Most childbirths in rural Kenya take place in homes that have little or no access to basic sanitation. Lack of a clean and sterile birthing environment can result in infection for mother, baby, and midwife, the spread of HIV, and death of both mother and baby. Sub-Saharan Africa faces an urgent need for a low-technology, cost effective way to provide clean birth environments in traditional home birth settings. Simple clean birthing kits containing basic sterile supplies are a proven means to improve the safety of childbirth.
A Voice Is Heard has distributed more than 1,000 free clean birthing kits to midwives living and working in the villages of Amboseli. Through partnership with local heath care providers, we seek to help create an environment where clean birthing is accessible, expected, and considered the norm by mothers and midwives alike. Our annual birthing kit distribution events provide an opportunity to educate the midwives on the importance of delivery in clean environments, to explain the use and safe disposal of the kits, to collect information about the use and acceptance of the kits, and to monitor our progress in the region.
Each year, millions of girls living in traditional societies worldwide are at risk of female genital mutilation, a harmful practice that often results in profound physical, psychological, and sexual complications. Among the Maasai, all girls approaching puberty are at risk of this painful and dangerous practice, which is seen as a rite of passage marking a girl's coming of age into womanhood.
A Voice Is Heard stands together with the World Health Organization and other health authorities worldwide in opposing FGM. Increasingly, A Voice Is Heard also stands together with Maasai girls, their parents, and their community leaders, in seeking safe alternative coming of age practices that will signal the transition into adulthood without the harms associated with FGM. In 2013, A Voice Is Heard, working in partnership with the communities we serve, facilitated a non-cutting rite of passage ceremony for ten sponsored girls. These girls, who are leaders among their peers and among the first in the region to enter adulthood uncircumcised, are at the leading edge of a growing trend in which educated girls are voicing their opposition to FGM and making their voices heard within their families and beyond. With your support, A Voice Is Heard will continue to emphasize the importance of alternative rites of passage, and seek to ensure that all our sponsored girls enter adulthood unharmed by FGM.
One of the major problems facing the developing world is the lack of access to medical care.