In March, President Trump issued a budget that recommended a 32 percent cut to foreign assistance. Faith-based organizations across the nation fought back and notable leaders in the nonprofit world—including those from Hope Through Healing Hands, the organization I work for—wrote and signed letters to Congress. They argued against cuts to a program that provides health care, food, emergency relief, clean water and education to the most vulnerable populations on the planet.
After three deliveries, including a stillborn, at her home in Perah Andong village in Cambodia, Yeng Sienghay gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the local health center about four months ago, overseen by three midwives.
Following years of involvement in global humanitarian efforts, I was privileged recently to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with some of our Congressmen to discuss the importance of preserving this line item in our U.S. budget. What fuels my passion for this work are stories like the one I share here and Christ’s compassion flowing through me for those in direst need.
In Lugala, a village that is 10km from the Dodoma Region in Tanzania, it is common for a man to disappear in thin air when the partner gets pregnant only to reappear when the baby is born. This was shared by several women who said men do not support their partners when they get pregnant. This kind of entrenched financial and social neglect of pregnant mothers has left several women struggling with pregnancies alone without much support, even in times of emergencies.
Children bear the worst impact of the crisis in northeast Nigeria. This year, an estimated 450,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, making them nine times more likely to die from common illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The health system, damaged by fighting, is one of the biggest casualties in the emergency. Families displaced by violence struggle to get their children the help they need to survive.
It’s not about a gleaming waiting room, with tiled floors, aircon, mounted televisions, beautiful furniture, portraits, magazines, coffee mixers and chilled water dispensers. It’s not about custom beds, cabinets and glass panelled waiting rooms with expensive lighting.
I have been a midwife for the last 34 years. I work in a hard-to-reach area called Kigezi region, found in South Western Uganda, more than 500 km from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Kigezi is very hilly. Some areas are completely inaccessible by car, and we use bicycles or motorbikes, called boda bodas. Others, not even a motorbike or bicycle can reach. And in other places, we must use boats or canoes.
For Africa, the road to prosperity must begin with investment in its most precious resource. Not its minerals, oil reserves or plantations, but something even more critical to Africa’s future: the health of its children. I don’t mean this figuratively; an investment in children’s health is precisely that. Compelling evidence now suggests that every dollar, shilling, pound or rand spent on preventing disease does not just reduce needless human suffering, but it also makes sound economic sense too.
I grew up in a generation that didn’t vote. We had collectively come to the conclusion that our voices would not matter. We knew that the things we cared about would not be addressed in the halls of power.