If you have ever wondered what it would be like to give birth in a developing nation like Burundi, this may pull back the curtains for you a bit. It has been a longstanding dream of mine to photograph a birth in Burundi, and while I didn’t get to do that, I was able to spend time with a minutes-old-baby and his mother Claudine.
The healthcare situation here in Burundi has been near and dear to my heart since we moved here. All you have to do is read the frightening statistics to feel like SOMETHING must change. World Heath Organization recently reported that 104 of every 1,000 live births in Burundi result in the death of the infant. What a completely chilling and unacceptable reality. It was a joy to spend time bouncing along dirt roads to document the work of LifeNet, an organization working to change Burundi’s poor healthcare in creative and sustainable ways. On the home front, we are beginning to think more about how we can ensure access to good healthcare for our coffee farmers, so a day experiencing clinic and hospital life was eye opening for me.
Claudine and her brand new baby boy captured me from the moment I saw them. As I was photographing them, we found out that Claudine had barely held her baby in the hour since he had been born. In addition to that, she hadn’t tried to feed him yet. (Here it comes, just another LifeNet plug… clearly I’m a fan) That is why organizations like LifeNet, who do nurse and clinic staff training among many other things, are so important. Without compassionate and knowledgable nurses, new mothers would be lost… am I right? I sure was. Claudine is 19 and this is her first baby. She walked 3 hours while in labor to get to the small LifeNet clinic of Nyagihotora. Uh, he is such a beauty.Tools of the trade.
The delivery room where Claudine gave birth.Check out that look!
Claudine will be taking her baby back to a one room dirt floored house where she is the main bread winner. She lives with her grandmother whose health is currently failing. Once Monica from LifeNet realized that Claudine hadn’t tried to feed her baby yet, she jumped right in there to show Claudine what to do.Claudine didn’t seem too determined to continue feeding or holding her baby. It was hard to see. At one point I put down the cameras and just sat next to her holding him to keep him warm. I am hoping Claudine has warmed to the idea of having him in her life.
A clinic cutie waiting to be seen.
With Claudine and the clinic behind us, we went on to Igenda hospital… which was a whole lot larger and more equipped than the small clinic where Claudine gave birth.The gynecological ward. A delivery room, one of two. I was able to witness a birth happening, which was amazing, but photographing it wasn’t allowed this time.Newborn baby and momma being visited by family.One side of the room was for women in labor and the other side of the room, this one, was for newborn babies and their mommas.On to another ward, and this little guy was struggling as the team put an IV in. Photographing these babies being weighed was a treat, there was a lot of screaming, as they were weighed and then given injections.
Backup clean water system. The water often shuts off, and when it does there is still clean water in the consultation rooms.Patient record keeping.A baby’s growth chart.
Battery backup for power failures.Waiting for his consultation in perfect light.
Thank you, LifeNet for sharing the day with me.