Living Child Inc
Project: Village Birthing Huts and Training Project PNG
Location: East Sepik, Papa New Guinea
Duration: 2 years
Requested Amount: $40,000 from a total project cost of $112,000. This grant will be used towards building materials for five Village Birthing Huts, solar suitcases, rainwater tanks and the printing and further development of training materials.
This project aims to provide a quality service to pregnant women living in very remote PNG by building a birthing hut in each village, suppling essential equipment to maintain a clean space for labour and birth, and to continue to provide basic lifesaving training to the Village Birth Attendants.
Who is the organisation and what is their mission?
Sara David AM is a local Perth midwife who was invited to the village of Yamen in remote East Sepik Province by a local pastor who was concerned about the number of women and babies dying in childbirth. Living Child was established by Sarah in 2012 with the aim to reduce the maternal and infant death-rate in remote villages of Papua New Guinea (PNG) by providing training, visual teaching aids and birthing kits to midwives and Village Birth Attendants (VBAs).
What is the project that the 100 Women grant will support?
The project will provide a quality service to pregnant women living in remote areas of PNG where there are no roads, few open health facilities and where the number of deaths of women and newborns is extremely high.
This project will contribute to the provision of:
- Five birthing huts to be constructed in five different villages with essential equipment including solar lighting, rainwater tanks, personal protection equipment and clean birth kits.
- 50 VBAs will receive quality training using evidence-based, culturally appropriate methods to enable them to support 25 villages.
- 12 VBA leaders to be trained to continue educating VBAs in basic life-saving skills.
- 12,500 women and girls of childbearing age will receive education from the VBAs in their villages regarding reproductive and sexual health issues.
The training is to improve their knowledge and skills so that they can educate their women and girls about family planning, care during pregnancy, labour and birth, care of the newborn, establishing breastfeeding, recovery from the birth and adjusting to motherhood.
Who is the project for? Who else will benefit?
The project benefits the whole village where the population is about 1,000 people. When the women were dying, men were left widowers and children left without mothers. Directly the five birthing huts will support about 5,000 people. Indirectly, 50 VBAs with better training will be able to support a community of 30,000.
Why is the project needed – what is the need or opportunity that is being addressed?
Women and infants in the villages were dying. There are few health services reaching remote village people where 85% of the PNG population lives. Maternal and neonatal mortality rates are high, especially in East Sepik Province. Training VBAs is a priority for community leaders and this was the original purpose of invitation for Sara David (Founding CEO) to visit the area in 2012. The COVID-19 pandemic has further interrupted maternity health services.
Why is the solution the best answer to the identified need or opportunity?
Living Child has been working closely with VBAs, health workers, community and government leaders in the remote District of Angoram for eight years. They provide evidence-based midwifery education that is culturally appropriate and meets the language and literacy needs of the community. Training resources are translated into Tok Pisin and have illustrations that reflect village life. The Living Child team comprises PNG nurses now based in Perth, who lead training outreach courses, provide cultural literacy to non-PNG volunteers and have established trusting relationships.
This project has been led by local people who understand their own needs. VBAs have asked for essential equipment: eye protection goggles, buckets, an apron to protect their clothing, access to clean water for washing hands, solar lighting so that they can see at night (the villages have no power or running water), a training manual with pictures and have suggested building a Haus Karim (Birthing hut) out of bush materials with a concrete floor (so that they can wash it properly) and have all the equipment kept there for safe use. There is a high level of community engagement with locals providing the construction labour and co-ordinating the project.
What are the planned outcomes as a result of the project?
The overall aim of the project is to reduce the maternal and infant death rates. Project outcomes will be demonstrated via data collected by VBAs and pre and post evaluations will be used at the training sessions.
Are there any notable partners or collaborators?
On the ground in PNG, Living Child partners with the East Sepik Provincial Health Authority to bring education and support to health workers and Village Birth Attendants. There is also a partnership with Melanesian Evangelical Churches of Christ that enables access and safe travel through the remote regions.