It’s that time of year again. Happy Birthday to me! Can’t say I get all that excited anymore. But this year I’m reminded more than ever of the importance of a happy birth.
Cambodia, despite the best intentions of the Millennium Development Goals to improve maternal health and reduce child mortality, still has among the worst mortality rates for mothers and infants in the world! Ironically and tragically birth days are not all that happy in some parts of the world.
In October this year a team of professional educators and midwives will join me in training a further 300 Cambodian Traditional Birth Attendants. Over the last three years the Safe Arrivals project has already passed on the all important life-saving skills and knowledge to some 1500 traditional midwives. Training we take for granted in Australia.
These women are champions! I love them. They carry huge responsibility and do it with little or no training. And for little or no return for themselves.
Take Sroun Narom for example. She’s 51 years old. Since 1971 Narom has been a traditional birth attendant. Over the years and now in her impoverished district on the outskirts of Phnom Penh she has helped deliver hundreds of babies, so many she can’t remember! And how did Narom learn to be a midwife? From her big sister, when she was just eleven and her sister was thirteen.
To say that the expectation on those young girls was unfair is an understatement beyond belief! But unfortunately for the lack of training and support the practice continues.