In Herat, Afghanistan, there are 100,000 Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs), who have moved to the camps outside the city from all over the country of Afghanistan. They come here because of the insecurity of their own town or because of the drought in their region. They are refugees within their own country. These families have left everything in the hopes of basic survival. The needs of pregnant women are especially acute in these areas as they hope to not lose yet another baby.
This year, Morning Star has been sending a team of four trainers into these make-shift camps to teach Birth Life Saving Skills (BLiSS) to men and women. Families continue to bear children in these camps and have a less successful birthrate than those who live in the villages.
As our team begins their quarterly training, the women weep over their losses. They are taught simple strategies of hygiene and neonatal care, which brings more sorrow knowing that their babies could have been saved by knowing these simple things.
Here are a few customs that our staff must un-teach the people:
1. Don’t give food or drink to a woman when she begins labor
2. Birth should be done in the barn
3. If labor continues on for a long time, begin to push on the mother’s stomach with various farm tools
4. Cut the umbilical cord with an old knife on the bottom of a shoe
In our evaluation process, we have seen an 80% improvement in child mortality rates in areas where we work. Our hope is that as these families, who have been impacted by the BLiSS training, go back to their villages and towns they will teach others who we could not reach otherwise.