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Image Credit to Pablo Patruno

Image Credit to Pablo Patruno

A beautiful photo essay by Paolo Patruno following mothers through the journey of giving birth in Africa and highlighting the difficult reality of this journey.

In Malawi … the words for pregnancy in the local language—’pakati’ and ‘matenda’—translate into ‘between life and death’ and ‘sick’.

While documenting the lives of these mothers, I saw things that shocked me, such as a midwife yelling at a woman in labor to stop crying. I also met nurses and midwives who were heroes, saving the lives of mothers and children on a daily basis, despite strained resources and crowded facilities. I saw that the conditions in which women give birth can vary widely, even within the same community. Many women give birth in facilities without adequate equipment and services, or at home without skilled providers. Some women deliver their babies without access to power or running water.

In particular, women in poor and remote communities, far from the nearest health services, are most at risk. And of these, young women and girls are in the most danger: In many communities girls still marry when very young and contraceptive advice is poor or non-existent.

The death of a mother—an all too common outcome of these conditions—is a human tragedy. Her death endangers the lives of the surviving newborn and young children. Girl children are often pulled from school and required to fill their lost mother’s roles. A mother’s death makes it harder for the family to obtain life’s necessities and escape the crush of poverty. As I’ve traveled throughout Africa over the past ten years, I have seen how important women’s roles are, not just for families, but for entire communities.

Find full essay and images at Birth is A Dream.

 

 

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I want to share this article by my friend Veronica about returning to her home town in Malaysia after seven years abroad. She discusses the changes in her own community and the positive effect that murals and graffiti have had on residents. Having worked in development in Africa, she suggests that development is perhaps both more subtle and more organic than development practitioners would have us believe.

I particularly love the follow comment on development as a human and heart centred process. I couldn’t agree more, V!

“Development isn’t necessarily a set of goals. Development needs to be human-centred. Development is what people want it to be, what they want for themselves is what they will achieve with what they put in. Others are merely vehicles and catalysts to enable such an environment to take place….

(S)omething as simple as a few wall-paintings has triggered such response and in turn provided the catalyst for local artists to express themselves more freely now is what I would truly call development.”

Graffiti Mohamed Mahmoud Street

Veronica discusses the impact of wall art in Malaysia. This picture is from Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo, where graffiti art has also played a role in creating change in the city.

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