My grandmother, Amelia, has been gone 3 years now. It is weird that she is not here, yet, I can still here her voice in my head. I remember how she would say an old fashioned, “How do you do?” to me and my toys or call soft serve ice cream “custard” on a hot Brooklyn’s summer’s day. She was always up for a walk after we ate, and one time we got lost, but eventually made our way back home! She always loved to read and talk and go. She got bored very easily. And, of course, there was always candy coated gum, “Chicklets”, in her purse to share. In fact, our 2nd post on World Moms Network, then World Moms Blog, in 2010 was about her life!
My favorite story was about how the family had run out of money during the Great Depression, and then she received a postcard in the mail from the State of New York to apply for free nursing training. It was her ticket out of upstate to come to the great, big city and pull her family out of the breadline. She was the responsible one in the family, ahead of her brothers (as she always told me!). And she knew what she needed to do. Amelia, my grandmother, answered the call, and was on her way to New York City to become a nurse.
Nursing was so important to my grandmother, and so far, no one in the family has carried on her torch in the medical field. So, when World Mom, Kristyn Zalota, had formed the nonprofit, Cleanbirth.org, and was looking for donations to train much needed nurse midwives in Laos, I decided it was the perfect way to pay tribute to my grandmother. It is a great feeling to be able to provide a woman today an opportunity of life changing healthcare training, like my grandmother had once received. It is our family’s way of paying it forward.
Cleanbirth.org was founded in response to Laos having one of the worst maternal death rates on the planet. Attributing to these rates was the lack of adequate or accessible health care in rural areas and absence of sanitary supplies needed to prevent infection during birth.
Today, Cleanbirth.org in cooperation with Yale University, has trained over 300 midwives and provided over 5,000 birth kits. It has been incredible to see Kristyn’s dream to help woman and babies be carried out as the organization grows.
This year Cleanbirth.org is seeking to train in 43 clinics this year! Every dollar helps. Whether you can chip in for or towards a $5 birth kit, or train a midwife for $240, no donation is too small or too large! Just five dollars donated pays for a sanitary birthing kit, which also includes transportation for the midwives to attend a birth.
Here is a message from Cleanbirth.org founder and World Mom, Kristyn Zalota:
World Moms Network community, please join me, as we seek to raise $1000 for the training of nurse midwives and birth kits this year! Whether you’d like to contribute to train a nurse midwife for $240 or chip in toward a $5 birth kit or anywhere in between, no donation is too small!
Here is the link to World Moms Network’s Cleanbirth.org funding page. Won’t you join us to help save the lives of more moms and babies, as well as, give more woman the opportunity to midwife training? Let’s do this! (And thank you!)
This is an original post to World Moms Network from founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA.
Cleanbirth.org is a 501c3 with no paid staff members. In the USA donations to Cleanbirth.org are tax deductible.
When I began CleanBirth.org in 2012, it was very important to me that the organization succeed. I wanted so much to help other mothers give birth safely. I also craved a project of my own that was unrelated to being a mother or wife.
I can remember worrying in the first year that the Clean Birth Kits wouldn’t be well received or that my partner organization in Laos, ACD-Laos, wouldn’t do their part to ensure success.
In the first 2 years, I worked endlessly with ACD-Laos and traveled to Laos twice per year. Back at home, I went to conferences, Tweeted and posted on Facebook non-stop, and sought connections and fundraising opportunities everywhere.
There was so much of me in the organization in that early period. I needed the moms in Laos to give me a purpose, as much as they needed me.
Yet, the more I traveled to Laos, the more I understood that the only agents for real change in birth practices are local nurses. With common language and traditions, these nurses are uniquely effective at conveying knowledge about safe birth.
With the goal of empowering local nurses, my partners at ACD-Laos and I spent time in 2014 establishing mutually-agreed up Monitoring and Evaluation procedures. With these clear objectives and methods of tracking funds, the way was cleared for my partners at ACD-Laos to take ownership of day-to-day activities.
In 2016, when they began conducting training without me and then requested to expand to more clinics and a hospital, it was clear that ACD-Laos and the nurses were invested and in charge.It was also clear that my role had changed.
Just as the organization had evolved, so had I. With an international move and growing kids, I no longer needed CleanBirth.org to be my purpose.
While the need is gone, my commitment is stronger than ever. I am so proud to be part of the team we’ve created: the nurses, ACD-Laos, CleanBirth.org and our supporters. Year after year we make birth safe for an increasingly large number of women in Laos.
World Moms Network has supported CleanBirth.org since the beginning. We need your help in the next 2 weeks,as we raise our largest amount ever $20,000.
Please give now if you can: http://cleanbirthorg.causevox.com/
When I started CleanBirth.org, I felt that it was my privilege to help make birth safer for women in Laos who lacked resources and a voice. I bounded out of bed in the morning ready to work as much as my kids’ school schedules permitted me.
I am still as committed today, perhaps more so. But I am not bounding out of bed anymore.
My boundless energy has diminished for a variety of reasons: an international move with 2 kids, frustration over local government rules, fundraising fatigue…
Despite moments of flagging energy, I keep on because of the commitment that I have made to women in Laos. I keep on to support the powerful work done by our amazing local partner, ACD-Laos. I keep on because so many others in Laos, nurses, midwives, community members, keep on in difficult circumstances. After four years, we are a team. They ask for what they need, knowing that I will listen and do my best to fulfill their requests.
I am part of something that I began when I was energetic and searching for a purpose. I continue this work, backed by a supportive Board of Directors, generous donors and my fellow members of the World Moms Network.
There was a time when I had to nag ACD-Laos staffers for data and they in turn had to repeatedly call clinics to get the information. After four years, and training about Monitoring and Evaluation, nurses at our 43 clinics understand the need to provide monthly data. Each month, they give ACD-Laos data that is then compiled into a spreadsheet detailing how many kits were given. Further, ACD-Laos has taken over the twice-annual execution of trainings in Clean Birth Kits protocol and infant care.
Our work to make birth safe is now directed by local ACD-Laos staff with the support of CleanBirth.org’sglobal donors.
When I am feeling less enthusiastic about drumming up donations, I think of this team we have built. I know that women in Laos are depending on me and on CleanBirth.org donors to supply them with safe birthing supplies they need. The nurses, thirsty for tools and knowledge to help mothers in birth, await our training.
We can’t disappoint them, so together we must press on. A little weary at times but wiser and more effective. We have built trust in these remote communities. We have developed a system that works.
So we push on, directed by our local partners, with the goal of creating an environment where every mother has a trained birth attendant and every baby has infection-preventing supplies. Where both mother and baby survive birth.
Kristyn Zalota, a World Moms Blog contributor from the USA, is a mom of two and also the founder of Cleanbirth.org, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Working with a local Lao partner, Cleanbirth.org empowers nurses to provide women in their communities with Clean Birth Kits and safe birthing education. To date, Cleanbirth.org has provided 5,000 birth kits and funded training for 250 nurses.
A new mom in Laos Photo Credit: Kristyn Zalota
It’s over 100 degrees Farenheit and I am dripping sweat as we enter the home of a mother who has recently given birth at a Lao hospital using a Clean Birth Kit, supplied by my organization CleanBirth.org. She is wearing a long skirt and hooded sweatshirt. Under the platform bed where she sleeps a clay pot is filled with glowing coals. Her newborn baby sleeps under blankets with mittens on her tiny hands and a knit cap. The mother, sweating profusely, is drinking piping hot herbal tea. She eats chicken four times a day and showers in the hottest water she can tolerate four times a day. Her four older children and husband are nearby, taking care of her and the household while she recovers.
This is a good birth story in Laos where my organization CleanBirth.org works. This mother birthed naturally with a Clean Birth Kit under the watchful eye of a trained midwife. Her traditions were respected and she and baby left the hospital healthy.
A baby needlessly dies.
However, many birth stories in Laos don’t tell the tale of mothers and babies surviving birth. A nurse at a rural clinic told of a 45-year old mother, pregnant with baby #14, who came into the clinic for help during labor. Her membranes had been ruptured for 29 hours and she arrived at the clinic exhausted. After a normal vaginal delivery, the newborn could breastfeed but was weak. He died 9 hours after birth, likely of an infection. The clinic does not have IV antibiotics, so the nurses were powerless to fight the infection.
World Moms help CleanBirth.org empower nurses.
CleanBirth.org Founder Kristyn Zalota training nurses in Laos
My visit to Laos last month was my fifth training trip with CleanBirth.org, the organization I started in 2012 to empower women in Laos to have safer births. Since 2012, we have provided 5,000 Clean Birth Kits and training for over 250 nurses.
This March, with my Lao partner organization ACD, we trained 71 nurses in the use and distribution of Clean Birth Kits and the WHO’s Essentials of Newborn Care.
Five of those nurses were fully funded by World Moms Blog donors, who gave $1,100 during our February fundraising campaign.
Our twice-annual trainings give nurses new skills and confidence. We also supply them with as many birth kits as they need throughout the year.
The trainings and subsequent improvement in care in the 31 clinics we serve, has led my Lao partner organization to ask that we fund an additional 13 clinics and a local hospital. When we visited the local hospital, midwives there told us that of the 50 births they see per month, 35-40 mothers bring with them our ayzh Clean Birth Kits — which they received at their local clinic. The midwives praised the convenience/effectiveness of the kits. They asked CleanBirth.org to provide around 10-15 kits per month directly to their hospital for mothers who don’t have a kit. This we will do.
It is a huge endorsement of our program to have our local partner and a hospital asking to expand our work to new areas. This means that they are seeing the benefits and that locals are deciding the future direction of the project. They are in charge.
My role as founder of CleanBirth.org will be to continue finding funding for kits and training. For just $5 we can prevent an infection like the one mentioned above. If you’d like you join our small but mighty effort please donate www.cleanbirth.org/donate.
Thank you World Moms for all of your support!
World Moms Blog has been supporting the mission of CleanBirth.org, founded by contributor Krysin Zalota, from the beginning. After all, we are a group of moms here, so it has made us even more compassionate to the need for safe, sterile birth for the sake of both babies and their mamas. In the villages where Cleanbirth.org operates women traditionally give birth alone in the forest. Laos has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the region.
You can follow our fundraising efforts and join in — only $5 provides a clean birth kit! — here: http://cleanbirth.causevox.com/world-moms-blog. We’ve already raised $490! Please help us break $500!
In 2015, its third full year of operation, Cleanbirth.org has provided 1,179 moms in the program in Laos with clean births, where there were zero reports of infections and where 170 nurses were trained. We continue to support the organization and maternal health worldwide, not just on the World Moms Blog site, but on many of our personal blogs, as well. Here are a few of the blog posts and campaigns that World Moms contributors have launched this year around Cleanbirth.org.
This May, Ewa Samples from Ewa Samples Photography and CleanBirth are coming together for a second edition of a Mother’s Day Campaign to raise funds to help moms in Laos together.
Last year they were able to raise almost $600 in two days! This year, they invite everyone in the Bay Area, California, to join in to support this wonderful cause.
Ewa will be offering special packages for family photography sessions, where part of the profit will be donated to CleanBirth.
Our Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay, in Rhode Island, USA wrote about Cleanbirth.org this month on her blog, Documama:
$5.00 Can Save 2 Lives With CleanBirth.org
Over in the United Arab Emirates, World Mom, KC of Mummy in Transit, also wrote about why helping make births safer in Laos is important to her!:
Nicole Melancon did this fantastic interview with Clean Birth Founder Kristyn Zalota in 2015:
One Mom’s Quest to Save Mother’s Lives in Laos
Sophia of ThinkSayBe shared her birth stories in support of Cleanbirth.org this year:
“Reading about what CleanBirth.org definitely made me assess my own pregnancies and the access we (my babies and I) had to clean and modern facilities in case of emergencies during the pregnancy, and for a safe delivery to my babies and myself.”
And, here is our post on World Moms Blog introducing the kick off of the Cleanbirth.org campaign!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog.
*We apologize for the choppy first version of this post that was published. Our editors were facing technical difficulties!
“When a mother receives the kit, she is happy. She feels that the kit will make her safe.” – Jun Ping, nurse, Tahoy District, Laos.
It’s true: the Clean Birth Kits my organization CleanBirth.org provides pregnant women in southern Laos do make birth safer when used correctly. Kits contain everything a mother needs to prevent infection in herself and her baby: gloves, soap, 2 clean absorbent pads, clean blade, 2 clean cord clamps, and picture instructions.
However, while the contents of this small pink bag can save lives, there is no guarantee they will.
In order to truly impact outcomes, the kits must be distributed by nurses who counsel mothers and families to use the supplies in a hygienic way, in the proper order, with a birth helper present.
The pivotal role of the local nurses is a lesson I have learned since we began supplying kits 3 years ago. Nurses speak the language, share the culture, and venture deep into jungle villages. They are the sole hope of villagers, who cannot travel to clinics due to distance, petrol expense, and washed out roads.
Well-trained nurses ensure that the promise of the small pink bags is realized in a healthy birth for baby and mother.
CleanBIrth.org works to give nurses the training they need by funding two trainings per year. This March, with our local partner and volunteer midwives from the Yale School of Nursing, we will again train nurses about Clean Birth Kits and the WHO’s Essentials of Newborn Care.
This year’s training will have a special focus on “Training the Trainer.” We want nurses to not only learn but to become teachers themselves.
To achieve our goal of training each and every one of the 62 nurses at the 31 clinics we serve, we need your help to raise $15,000 by February 13th.
You the readers and contributors of World Moms Blog have supported CleanBirth.org since it’s founding in 2012, and this year is no exception.
We are counting on you again. Please visit World Moms Blog’s fundraising page and donate what you can: $5 funds a birth kit, $120 provides Clean Birth Kits training for a nurse. http://cleanbirth.causevox.com/world-moms-blog
Thank you for your support!
Since 2012, we have trained 200+ nurses and staff and provided 3,000 Clean Birth Kits to moms and babies in Laos. We pay nurses a stipend for the work that they do for CleanBirth.org.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Kristyn Zalota, Founder CleanBirth.org
Photo Credits: Kristyn Zalota, Cleanbirth.org