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Ghana – Motherhood in West Africa



Mother’s Day is a holiday not necessarily celebrated in Northern Ghana. Here in the villages, mothers form the backbone of the economy, as well as that of the family. Mothers and children may rise before dawn to fetch water and firewood, often from long distances. If a family is well off, they might be using jerry cans and bicycles, but most wood and water are carried as head loads by those walking along the paths from the river or the bush. Many of these women will be carrying babies tied to their backs as well, and children who are old enough to walk will be carrying smaller containers with water or smaller sticks bundled together. 

Once these women return to the house, they must not only do all the cooking, washing, and other chores, but in farming season, they must also plant, weed, and even help raise yam mounds. But that is not the most difficult part of motherhood in rural Ghana. The biggest threat to a woman’s life is still getting pregnant. If the lady is able to deliver easily in the village, then she is fortunate. But many women cannot deliver in the village and must be transported by bicycle, motorcycle, pickup, or even ambulance to someplace where they can have the attentions of a trained midwife or be operated upon for a Caesarean section. And somehow these transport problems rarely come in the daytime.

We are still haunted by the memory of one lady who died in childbirth about eight years ago. This woman had already had two C-sections and was advised to stay in town so she could be operated on. Instead, she stayed in the village and allowed someone to give her a local drug to send her into labor. While in labor, the women were braiding her hair into an elaborate style, but partway through the braiding job, her uterus ruptured and she collapsed. That was when one of the men finally hopped on a bicycle and rode 19 miles into Saboba to summon the ambulance, only for the ambulance to bring us a you mom who had just passed away. The family requested that I remove the baby from the woman. Knowing that I was likely to encounter a uterine rupture with a great deal of blood, I made an incision and then asked all the old ladies who had accompanied the patient to witness the hole in the uterus.  Dispite our best attempts to educate about health and build local knowledge we often fail, or at least that is how it often feels. How do we instill a worldview that promotes a biblical view of healthy families that nurtures and supports spiritual, and physical wholeness? Breaking through the tribal worldview that supports these tragedies is not easy, it remains one of  our biggest challneges as healthcare missionaries.

Pleas pray for those of us who care for them, that we will be faithful to do the best we can to save as many mothers and children as possible. 

Thanks for loving, caring, praying, and giving. Remember, there’s always ‘Victory in Jesus”!




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