Marla Robbins had her own midwifery practice but felt that there was something more the Lord wanted her to do.
She needed to take some continuing education courses and went on the Internet to investigate. She learned of a birth center in the Philippines that was a model of maternity care for developing nations. God pricked her heart to go there and receive training.
Marla and her husband, Paul, an ANM staff member, went to North Carolina to hear a woman speak about giving birth in a developing country. They received great information, but the statistics of women dying during pregnancy were horrible to hear. A woman dies during pregnancy every minute and a half. They learned that there is an easy fix for most problems, but midwives need to be trained. They need tools to solve many problems. They need education to overcome local superstitious practices. Medical missions teams often go to help, but there are not usually clinics for pregnant women and for infant care.
A connection in a place of need
Paul had heard through Tom and Hellen Malande of Family Impact in Kenya of their desire to have a birth center to address the needs of pregnant women in their country. Hellen is a midwife and knows what the conditions are like in her country.
Paul went to Kenya to help Tom with training men to build bookcases for their library. Hellen wanted to show Paul the spot she had envisioned for a birthing center. The land had been purchased and she had picked the exact spot where the birthing center should be built.
Marla was at a birth recently. She went outside to use her cell phone. Before she could get outside the phone rang. It was Hellen calling from Africa. Marla was amazed that the call was so clear. Hellen was at the spot for the birth center. She shared pictures on the phone with Marla. That’s when it became a reality for Marla. Seeing the land and realizing the intensity of Hellen’s desire to have a center made it clear. This should happen.
Women in a third world countries are second class citizens. So Hellen felt that her plans were on the back burner. Support for the plans to carry the Gospel were more important than a birth center. But Hellen saw every part of the center in her mind. She visualized where the cars would be parked, where a television would be in the waiting room with DVDs of Biblical content for those waiting to watch, also there would be DVDs with instructions for child birth. In faith, Hellen and Tom have created a path to the front door of the future center and have planted flowers along the borders of the path.
Later, while at ANM, Tom was asked to give a list of urgent financial needs and to prioritize the immediate needs. When Paul saw the list he asked, “Where does the birth center fit in?” Tom shared that it had not begun yet. So Paul went to Oliver Asher, the CEO, and shared Hellen and Tom’s vision for Family Impact. Paul protested that the birth center had not been included in the vision statement. They explained that this was their personal vision, not the vision of Family Impact. Oliver reassured them that ANM would support their vision.
So Marla and Hellen wrote up the project. The leadership of ANM approved the project and encouraged them to take small steps. First they should get an estimate of the cost of the center. Then have plans drawn up. Then consider breaking ground. All of that has been accomplished.
Completing the birth center
When Paul first shared their vision, Marla felt she needed more experience so she attended Mercy In Action ministry in the Philippines. There is a birth center there where she trained for 3 weeks. She was at the center which had quarters for midwife interns to stay. Marla’s church helped cover the expenses. She shared that it was an incredible experience. She saw 35 births in 3 weeks. She observed prenatal care, births, and postnatal care. She was in classes but the hands on experiences made for great visuals. She learned protocols and guidelines that were practical for developing nations.
She shared that being in the Philippines led her to see that the needs are different in a different culture. She realized that God could use midwives as a key to preserving life. She saw a lot of prayer and ministry going on. There was a lot of love shown to the women. They would not normally experience being cared for and feeling safe.
This one fact tells the story of the need for a birth center: in Africa the women tell their family goodbye when they leave to have a baby because their survival is so uncertain. Often the midwives are untrained and superstitious. So the women are mistreated as the midwives use practices that cause harm. Women in labor are harmed instead of being loved and cared for. A birth center could change this in Kenya. It could be a model for centers all over Africa.
The birth center has been completed. There is a need to fund two midwives to work there for a year. Would you like to be a partner with others to see that the void is filled with a refuge for women in Africa? You can give and be a part of the solution to save women and children from dying at childbirth.