Eighteen (18) trained traditional midwives (TTMs) in Bong County, central Liberia, have acquired new skills with the intent to generate income activities.

The four-week intensive Income Generating Activities (IGA) training was conducted solely for the TTMs by two women from an East African-based organization-Amani Yaa-Yuu (a Kiswahili word-meaning peace from above). They are Jerrita A. Mutole, a Kenyan and Lucy J. Duku from South Sudan.  

Amani Yaa-Yuu was founded 1996, in Nairobi, Kenya by few refugee women with a goal, not only to teach, but spread the message of peace, and sell its self-made products. It focuses on women and children.

The training was conducted under the sponsorship of Africare-Liberia at the Maternal Waiting Home in Suakoko, near Gbarnga Bong County with funding from the United States Agency for International Development Agency (USAID).

The maternal waiting home provides temporary accommodation for pregnant women who are nearing labor but reside several miles from the health facilities.

The 18 women, who graduated over the weekend, were certificated in recognition for the completion of the Income Generation Training in sewing and tie-dying respectively.

The training lasted from August 19 to September 12, 2013 on the motto, “Because We Cannot Eat Lappas.”

Earlier, Africare-Liberia Health Technical Advisor, Dr. Gaffee Williams said, in 2010, the entity obtained a grant from donors for child survival program, but decided to develop the IGA or the Maternal Waiting Home to complement the government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

The grant, he said, supported Africare’s efforts in assisting the Government of Liberia through the MOH/SW to achieve its national Road Map for Accelerating the Reduction of Maternal and Newborn Morbidity and Mortality in Liberia.

Most recent data placed Liberia’s maternal mortality rate at 990 deaths per 100,000 live births and the infant mortality rate at 58 per 1,000 live births, compared to 13 and six respectively in the United States.
The maternal waiting homes in Bong County address challenges expectant mothers face in accessing health facilities and skilled birth attendants.

“Many women cite distances to the health facilities and their lack of safe accommodation as major barriers preventing them from giving birth in health facilities with skilled birth attendants,” Dr. Williams narrated.

According to him, by the construction of the Maternal Waiting Home, the number of skilled births has increased to the extent where almost all the 15 counties health teams have yearned for same in their respective catchment communities.

“The outcome of our innovation is good as we are closing the program, we are not closing the chapter,” he assured.

Also, USAID Community Health Services Advisor, Dr. Ochi Ibe, assured the Africare and the graduates that her organization believes in empowering people, “and it was based on that belief that we supported the TTMs.”

Dr. Ibe then called on the government to prioritize education, particularly girls and women education whether adult literacy or whatever to empower them contribute to the growth and development of the country.

Ernest K. Gaie, Africare’s Country Director in Liberia, expressed gratitude for the successful completion of the training.

He then charged each of the graduates to go back into the community and train others so that the knowledge they gained is spread and sustained.

Mr. Gaie also assured the graduates that his organization will network with other partners to link them (the graduates) to do further training.

He added that Africare will continue to remain a strategic partner to the government through the MOH/SW.

He said, already, the entity through the Innovation, Research, Operations and Planned Evaluation for Mothers and Children partnered with MOH/SW and the University of Michigan to improve maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH) outcomes in Bong County.

Interestingly, Africare has trained 111 TTMs to use mobile phones to collect and transmit data on pregnant women.

Of the number, he said, 18 are trained to further serve as management to maternal waiting homes. The entity also constructed four other maternal waiting homes.

The construction of the Maternal Waiting Home Construction has also helped improved MNCH outcomes in Bong County and constructed a maternal waiting home in Phebe; supplied 1,100 mama kits containing blankets and sanitary wipes to new mothers to keep their babies healthy.

Furthermore, Africare procured sewing machines to provide alternative livelihood skills for TTMs with the aim to increasing their disposable incomes. (The Links Foundation/The Federal Republic of Germany provided the funding)

As part of a four year USAID-funded maternal and child health project, Africare, in partnership with the University of Michigan and with funding from private donors, has constructed six Maternal Waiting Homes in Bong County.

The waiting homes are located next to primary health care facilities and provide expectant mothers a place to stay and be closely monitored by medical staff for more than two weeks before giving birth.
With the motto: “Improving lives, building future,” Africare works with the mission to improve the quality of life of the people in Africa.

Meanwhile, a representative of the trainees, Louise Ganidolo, has on behalf of her colleagues promised to not bring shame to the facilitators, but to prove to their respective community critics that they have set their hands on new skills aside being the TTMs.