16 Jun 2017
Zeshi Fisher, BKFA Program Manager, and Fiona Smith, BKFA Executive Director recently travelled to Uganda on a monitoring and evaluation visit where they met with 10 BKFA field partners and made visits to 17 community settings. A film and photography crew accompanied them, to gather footage with which to document the visit.
BKFA are based in Australia so it is extremely important that when possible, representatives from BKFA have the opportunity to undertake such a field visit. The objectives of this particular visit were multiple and included providing BKFA staff with both a better understanding of the Uganda country context with regards to birthing kits and an exposure to in-country birthing kit distribution, and to meet a range of partners to learn about their operations and kit distribution practices.
Zeshi reports: “We met with a range of field partners and learned through observation more about their approaches to kit distribution, and the impact of their kit distribution activities in the communities we visited, helping us to build a picture of our engagement across the country”.
She continues, “…the general view of our field partners was that given the opportunity, mothers would choose to birth in a facility, and that the provision of birthing kits reduced barriers for women to enable this with the overall sense being that birthing kits impacted positively on an increase in facility births”.
Beneficiaries shared that having a birthing kit reduced a cost barrier as well as reduced the fear of being treated poorly by the health staff at the facility. It became very clear that having a birthing kit made an enormous impact on the way that mothers were treated on arrival to the clinic in labour and throughout their care. We learnt that mothers in labour were sometimes made to wait (often several hours) until family members could buy materials or find money to pay the clinic, or until other mothers could spare supplies to help, before receiving care”.
Zeshi concludes, “…spending time sharing and learning from our field partners and beneficiaries brings to light in a very personal way the importance of clean supplies for childbirth and the important change that a small kit can make for a pregnant mother and her newborn. Women were also thrilled when we described the way BKFA birthing kits are funded and assembled by families and communities across Australia and sent well-wishes – their appreciation was heartfelt”.
Photography: Carousel Media, Uganda, March 2017