My Baby Story

Jeannette is a 26 year old teacher who lives in a rural area of Rwanda.

“Life here in this community is very difficult. We live from the food that we can grow and the livestock that we raise.  We are high up in the hill country and farming on the steep hillside is difficult. When it rains a lot we have to deal with soil erosion. When it is hot and dry, it is difficult to cultivate the land. The only way that we can really survive is to do some day labor work for others who have bigger farms.

Another big challenge that we face living up here is the lack of infrastructure. We still don’t have electricity and the roads still do not reach to our house. Going all of the way into the nearest town to do shopping is very difficult. We cook our meals using firewood. With no electricity there is not much we can do after dark falls.

Because of the lack of roads, when someone becomes very sick and cannot move, we use a traditional “ambulance”, which is four men carrying the sick person on a stretcher.

When it rains, the pathway becomes very slippery. Even if the case is a real emergency, the men need to stop where they are and wait for the rain to end. There have been many cases where the sick person has been dropped out of the stretcher. If the emergency is at night, it is also very New Baby in Rwandadifficult to navigate the steep pathways.

I just recently gave birth to a new baby. I went into labor at 10 pm. I gathered some supplies for myself and the new baby and began to make my way to the village health post by flashlight. My husband and a couple of neighbor ladies helped me as I went. When I finally reached the health post, I collapsed and was not able to go any further. We had heard that ADRA had recently donated a new ambulance for our community health center, which is in a different village. My husband called the health center and requested that the ambulance come and pick us up. Even though the road is very rough between the health center and our village, the ambulance was able to make it and take me to the health center.

The nurses on duty gave me an exam and saw that my blood pressure was very high and were concerned that I was experiencing complications that would not make it safe for me to try and deliver the baby there. They helped me back into the ambulance, which took me to the district hospital where they were able to help me have a safe and normal delivery. I stayed on at the hospital for a week after the baby was born so that they could monitor my health and reduce my blood pressure. After a week at the hospital I returned home and I and the baby have been doing well up until now.

I wish to say how thankful I am to the people of Canada, the Government of Canada, and ADRA Canada for the gift that you have given to this community of the ambulance. Women in my village have died while attempting to give birth. When women are pregnant here, we of course are afraid of what might happen to us when we go into labor. Now that we have the ambulance, we feel so much better, not nearly as fearful as before. Thank you Canada!”

Interview by Frank Spangler, ADRA Canada Communications Specialist