Chikuni Mission is a small rural community in southern Zambia. The local hospital, run by the Sisters of Charity, services a 579 square mile region (1,500 square kilometers) with a population of 20,000 residents. Families living in this area are predominantly poor, and transportation to Chikuni Mission Hospital is largely unavailable or unaffordable due to the distance. For this reason, expectant women who desire a hospital delivery often must walk up to 15 miles along rugged dirt roads to reach the hospital. If they arrive and are not ready to give birth, they must sleep outside.
Rather than risk the long journey, many women choose to deliver their babies at home. Complications experienced during home births have resulted in a high rate of infant mortality. The maternal mortality rate is also high, often the result of bleeding that cannot be controlled.
Continue reading Debbie Black's article "Engaging Globally" here: Bethlehem Maternity Shelter, Zambia