By Kelsey Terschak
After three Ugandan mothers were told the chances of their baby’s survival were low, generous supporters around the United States surrounded the mother’s and gave their babies a second chance at life
Compassion International, in partnership with a local church, operates a survival center in the rural areas of Uganda that provides aid to struggling mothers and their babies. Mothers Kate, Rahuma, and Juliet were fortunate enough to be enrolled in the program soon after their pregnancies began, which provided them with critical resources often unavailable to other expecting mothers in Eastern Africa.
“When I found out I was pregnant…I felt bad. That’s not what I wanted! Of course, I had the thought of having an abortion but I eventually said to myself, ‘let me give birth to my child.’”
Rahuma married young, so when she found out she was pregnant, she worried what her family would think. How would she provide for her baby? Should she have an abortion? Instead, she chose life.
In the first few months of her pregnancy, women from the local church visited Rahuma and invited her to join the survival program offered within her village. The expectant mother was soon given prenatal care, parenting guidance, financial assistance, classes on job skills, and support from a very special mentor named Aunt Lydia – a woman who would soon save her and her baby’s life.
One evening, Rahuma began to bleed. By the following morning, the pain had become so severe that she called Aunt Lydia for assistance. Lydia quickly arranged for transportation to a safe, clean hospital — a privilege Rahuma and her husband never imagined. But after hours of painful labor, she knew something was wrong. Lydia had never seen longer labor or more pain on the face of an expectant mother.
An emergency c-section was quickly arranged, saving both the mother and the baby’s life.
“We named her Faith because we hope she has a faith in God. We also named her Faith because I needed great faith that she would survive and to deliver this child.”
Now a healthy and thriving baby girl, Faith and her mother attend their local survival program to receive the essential care they need to survive and thrive.
“I want to be remembered as a mother who was good to her children, well behaved and loving.”
Kate’s life seemed to flash before her eyes. She was married at 17 and gave birth to a son soon after, later inviting a baby girl into the family. Although having chosen to marry young, Kate often doubted the lifestyle she chose, wondering why she had allowed herself to stray so far away from her original goals. She shares, “I had a lot I wanted to do with my life. My mother was a teacher so I wanted to become a teacher. Instead, I found myself doing housework, washing clothes and making food for my family.”
Kate’s husband left her for another woman, leaving a mother of two with a third on the way. How would she provide for her little family? Would things ever get better? For years she heard people in her village share how the survival program had helped them. And one day, she was invited to join the program!
“When they told me I was registered I felt so happy. It gave me hope for my baby. Perhaps with the help of Compassion, the future would be different for me and her? I finally have hope that this child will be provided for in the absence of her father.”
Kate had lost a significant amount of weight during her pregnancy and was at high risk of miscarriage, so volunteers quickly embraced her, providing nutritious food, supplements, and a supportive group of women to speak hope and truth into her life. Thanks to their efforts, Mama Kate welcomed a healthy baby girl, Pamela Grace, into the world.
“These days, I’m no longer sad and alone all the time. And if I ever do have a moment like that, Compassion seems to pop in and encourage me to go study something at the survival program. I want Pamela to grow up in the church, praising the Lord and dancing for him.”
“I remember walking past the homes of rich people when I was four years old and admiring them. I would wish I was born into that family. I would think to myself, ‘when I grow up I will be rich. I will not have to work this much.’”
Juliet has always worked hard. At four years old, she was told to work in the fields to help provide for her eight brothers and sisters. At sixteen, she left home to braid hair. And when she and Edward married, they began a chapatti business [selling local bread] to afford their one-bedroom apartment. But when they found out Juliet was pregnant, no amount of work could provide enough money to save their baby.
Juliet became sick, and after saving money to afford a visit to the doctor, the couple was told Juliet might lose the baby. Hopeless and defenseless, they wondered how they could save the precious life growing inside. Without help, Juliet would soon miscarry her baby girl.
At four months pregnant, they were given a glimmer of hope – Juliet was welcomed into her local survival center. She was given prenatal care, education about proper hygiene, and pills to help prevent the contraction of malaria. Thanks to her involvement with the survival program, Juliet welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world five months later and named her Christine.
“I love her so much. Maybe it’s because she’s my firstborn? Of course, I love my husband too…but he annoys me. Whereas Christine cannot annoy me! I pray that she will be God-fearing, to have wisdom and to study well.”
Thanks to the survival program, this little family has hope in the midst of poverty. These three beautiful stories shed light on the stark contrast between those in the United States, where healthcare is readily available and hard work pays off. Poverty steals the beautiful lives of babies in impoverished countries and steals joy from expectant mothers who want the best for their children.
Will you consider donating to the Compassion Survival Program and give other moms and their babies the opportunity to survive and thrive? With your help, pregnant mothers and babies can live.
Kelsey Terschak is a child advocate and digital marketing specialist at Compassion International, an organization dedicated to eradicating childhood poverty around the world. Follow at @compassion.