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Poverty Alleviation Projects

January 31, 2010

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your December 2009 report for The $10 Club.

The infant mortality rate in Senegal is 60 per 1,000 live births, ten times the rate in the United States. Severe injuries for women during birth are extremely common, exacerbated by the horrific practice of female genital mutilation.

Often, midwives in the country are only trained in using surgical staples for repairing vaginal tears. Stapling as repair sets the woman up for a lifetime of pain, infection, and incontinence. They employ such basic infant resuscitation techniques as spanking and running newborns under cold water. These resuscitation techniques are highly ineffective. A small group of committed individuals are working in Senegal to reduce the number of infant deaths and improve the quality of life for new mothers.

From February 20th until March 15th of this year, our friend Hope Jackson, who implemented our wonderfully successful April 2006 medical project in El Salvador, will be traveling to Kafountine, Senegal with a midwifery exchange program called The African Birth Collective.

Hope will be working 24 hour shifts in the local hospital, attending births and participating in a cultural and educational exchange with local midwives in an effort to bring a lasting benefit to the local communities.

To ensure Hope’s and her colleagues’ efforts are successful, this month, 340 of us joined together to donate $3,400 to provide necessary supplies for their training and medical implementation programs. We will fund fifteen cases of sutures, four cases of surgical gloves, five Kelly forceps, five cases of syringes, five infant resuscitators, and two cases of mucus traps. In addition, manuals on training in suturing and resuscitation will be printed into the local language, Wolof. Further, the supplier of these products is selling them at the wholesale cost, saving enough money for us to also fund the purchase of a supply of pitocin (to treat postpartum hemorrhage) and lidocaine (to use as pain medication during suturing). Thank you.

The African Birth Collective is a non-profit organization that bridges the gap between traditional and modern midwifery, working together in Senegal to exchange ideas and midwifery skills. The organization brings donated medical supplies, equipment and funds to their partner clinics; purchases ambulances to provide emergency transport to hospitals; promotes the reintroduction of indigenous medicines and herbs in safe and appropriate ways; supports nutritional education programs based on traditional foods; and translates educational materials to provide greater access to knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of birth, its complications, suturing techniques, neonatal resuscitation methods, appropriate use of western medications, HIV and STD prevention, nutrition, pre and post natal care.

The team on the ground plans to host a training program to instruct five Senegalese midwives how to perform vaginal suturing and newborn resuscitation and then teach these vital skills to others. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 10% of all newborns will require some level of resuscitation

They will provide educational materials and supplies to a selected group of trainers who can then host workshops in the maternity clinics in their area and share the knowledge and supplies. In this way, advanced skills that can save and enhance lives will be spread to caregivers throughout the region of Ziguinchor.

With our grant, the African birth collective will print copies of suturing and resuscitation handbooks into the local languages of French and Wolof. Hope will make sure they print enough copies of each to provide educational materials to fifteen midwives; the five initial “students”, plus ten others who they will then instruct. All of these midwives will then be given a supply of the medical tools we purchased to employ in their humane medical treatments.

Medical training is essential in developing countries, especially among rural populations, and the education Hope’s team will provide will have an immeasurable impact. Combined with the equipment to implement these new skills, this project will have a profound impact on both infant mortality in the region, and the quality of life for new mothers.

One clinic in the region alone records an average of 600 births per year. As the midwifery skills are shared with other clinics in the region, the ripple effect will be great. Hundreds, if not thousands, of women will have the opportunity to live unburdened by the chronic infection and incontinence that can come with surgical stapling. Equally many newborn infants will be treated with resuscitation techniques that drastically improve their chances at life.

In the coming year, because of you, women in Senegal will give birth more safely, will suffer less pain, and will live improved lives. Because of you, dozens of babies – otherwise at great risk – will survive.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

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.

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