Miriam is a Tanzanian woman with a healthy baby. Many of Miriam’s friends were not so lucky—they died in childbirth. They belong to the Maasai tribe that lives in the village of Nadaruru, about 20 miles from the nearest health facility—and when there is a problem with a birth, they start walking to town. Often, they don’t make it. Two years ago, Empower Tanzania volunteers were visiting Nadaruru to see the school they had built. This is a major event because traditionally, Maasai don’t send their kids to school. However, Chief Isaiah is progressive and believes that Maasai must change or they won’t survive as Tanzania develops. After touring the school, we asked our hosts if there were other issues they wanted to discuss—and that opened the floodgates. “Our young women are dying in childbirth.  We need help,” was their plea. That began a two-year effort by ETI and representatives of the Maasai and the nearby Pare village to figure out what to do. Last year, ETI began to collect funds to respond to this need. We raised about $10,000 from private donations from dozens of people, and spent it on the following:

Training- Nevo Kissenge, RN and Sr. Agnes, RN, trained 10 women to be birth attendants. They gained basic knowledge about pregnancy, prenatal care, possible complications and healthy deliveries. These 10 women were so committed to this training, they walked eight miles each way for three weeks.

Changing Customs- Mama Maria (pictured) is the eldest woman in the Nadaruru Maasai. She came to the classes too, despite her arthritis. When she heard Nevo describe the medical problems associated with Female Genital Mutilation(FMG), she stopped the meeting and went to get Chief Isaiah. Mama Maria had Nevo repeat her comments about FMG, and Isaiah responded, “No more of this in Nadaruru.”

Clinic - The donations also paid for the construction and equipping of this clinic.  

Women’s Health - Now that the clinic is available, it will also be a site for educational programming on women’s health, well baby care and improving nutrition, impacting the lives of not just the pregnant women, but through the women, everyone in the area.

Because of the network of people and relationships we have built in Tanzania over the years, a chance meeting and honest conversation led to a project that will save lives and improve the health of many people, and will now serve as a model program for Tanzania. ETI is committed to doing more of these Safe Motherhood Projects among the rural poor who are remote from the health care system causing women and babies to die needlessly because they do not have access to even basic health services. For $10,000, we can change a village. Please help us do it with a donation today.