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Poverty Alleviation Projects

2007 Projects

September 30, 2007

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your September 2007 report for The $10 Club.

The Bwindi Community Health Centre (BCHC) was started in 2003 in Uganda to benefit the Batwa Pygmies who used to live in the forest but were displaced when a National Park was created. BCHC provides different levels of health care to different patients, including delivery of babies, vaccinations, and treatment of tuberculosis. Their x-ray and ultrasound machines are the only ones available in the area.

Maternal mortality rates are high in Uganda. Around 1 in every 100 women will die during delivery, and infant mortality is even higher. The BCHC sees around 50 pregnant women each week in the prenatal clinic, and encourages all of them to deliver their babies in the hospital. At the moment about 50% of these women deliver at the Health Centre. One of the biggest problems faced by the women in this area is access to the Centre by pregnant women who are close to giving birth.

Last month, two babies died because of labor that started at home and was not properly managed, and a woman in labor and her baby both died in a village only one hour’s walk from the Centre.

One of the barriers that has been identified to birthing in the Health Centre is geographical. Bwindi is a remote, rural, mountainous area with no public transport and few roads. Women cannot travel (some for several hours) to the Health Centre when they are in labor, even though they may want to deliver there.

What is needed is a Maternity Hostel on the site of the Health Centre. If women are able to stay in a hostel close to the Health Centre before they begin labor, they can then safely deliver there when the time comes. This is especially important for women delivering babies for the first time, those who have had problems in previous deliveries, and those with HIV/AIDS who need drugs in labor to prevent mother to child transmission.

This month, 371 of us joined together to provide the Bwindi Community Health Centre with $5,200 to help fund the Waiting Mothers Hostel. The full cost of the project is $9,200. Friends of the Centre’s founders pledged $4,000; our regular membership provided $3,700; and I received a grant from a thoughtful individual donor to make up the $1,500 shortfall! Our funds will specifically help build the substructure, including excavation over the site to level the ground and prepare trenches for the concrete foundation; we will fully fund the roofing, doors and windows, the kitchen, a pit latrine, and water piping from the water tank and a tap with a concrete base; lastly, we will pay for nine beds, lockers, blankets, and mattresses. Thank You.

This will be a basic building with toilet and shower facilities. Women will be entitled to stay during the run-up to delivery, and will not be charged. They will be expected to clean the rooms themselves and provide their own food.

This is an extremely innovative project and the hostel will significantly improve access by removing the barrier of geography. Dr. Paul Williams, a doctor at the Centre who solicited our support, tells me: “Instead of a woman in labor having to choose between giving birth on a dirt floor in a house with no electricity and no running water, and being carried for three hours on a stretcher in the dark to reach a Hospital, she will be able to come to the Hostel in late pregnancy and wait until she goes into labor.”

Dr. Williams adds, “Because of your efforts we estimate that every year at least 200 extra women (maybe 300-400) will come to deliver in the safety of the Health Centre instead of at home in the village. It is so dangerous to deliver at home… this building will literally save lives for the next twenty years.”

Goal 5 of the Millennium Development Goals is to improve maternal health, specifically by reducing by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio between 1990 and 2015. In Uganda specifically, the 2005 Uganda Human Development Report notes that efforts to fight diseases in the country have caused life expectancy in the country to improve from 43 years in 2000 to 45.7 years in 2004. However, “despite the impressive gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS, other health indicators, namely infant and maternal mortality, have not improved…infant and maternal mortality indicators deteriorated between 1995 and 2001.”

Yet again we’ve weighed in to save lives where assistance is needed most—and we’ve ensured that our targeted support gets to the people in really dire conditions and is used entirely for the project at hand. Child birth should be a magical, beautiful experience. I can’t imagine it being frightening and logistically dangerous.

Can one person single-handedly alter the maternal and infant mortality rate in a developing country? Perhaps you just did.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

PS. Another great project is prepared for October, supporting education for girls in Senegal. I’ll ask you to do two things: send in your contribution for October if you haven’t already, and tell others about our good work and encourage them to join! The more members we have the more people we help.

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org