Faida, a mother of eight children, two deceased; a girl at birth and a boy at two years old, lives in a village called Minova on the shores of Lake Kivu surrounded by mountains. Despite the idyllic scenery in her country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, she has a nearly 15% chance that each child she gives birth to will die.
Congolese hospitals, doctors, health workers and community activists are fighting to decrease this number. We know Faida through the support of a safe motherhood program with one of our local partners, HEAL Africa, a Congolese founded hospital and community health organization.
Faida, 35 years old, is the leader of a safe motherhood savings group in her village made up of both pregnant and non-pregnant women. Her group of ten women received a small grant to invest in their small businesses and fields. Every month, each woman puts a small amount into the group’s collective fund, which is then utilized like insurance to pay for neo-natal health checkups and a safe delivery at a health center, which most rural women cannot afford.
Through her last two pregnancies, her savings group helped her be seen by a health professional throughout her entire pregnancy and give birth in a safe place with two healthy babies now walking around. She now teaches family nutrition to other groups, helping them understand the type of food and cooking methods that help a child grow.
Faida now feels that she can plan her children due to a family planning training that HEAL Africa regularly gives in churches for wives and husbands together. ‘My husband understands now that we can space out our kids because I will not be healthy if I give birth to a child each year and we wouldn’t be able to support them even if I did.’
Today, Faida is a strong leader in her community, helping to start ten other women’s savings groups and teaching couples about nutrition and family planning.