In late October, MADRE intern Bonnie Haskell wrote about collecting supplies to send to Afghanistan with our friend Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Women for Afghan Women. The following post is Sunita’s account of her experience bringing those supplies to Afghanistan!
On my recent trip to Afghanistan, I had the pleasure of meeting Sabera Turkmani, President of the Afghan Midwives Association (AMA). Sabera came to meet me at the main office of Women for Afghan Women, along with Saleha Hamnawozada, the Executive Director of AMA, because I had brought a large bag of midwifery supplies including a breast pump from my colleagues at MADRE in New York. The women were very glad to receive this gift and will put it to good use.
I am glad to share what I learned today from Sabera.
AMA was founded in 2005, and today has an immense membership of 2,600. 40% of the membership attends the annual gatherings where voting takes place on major decisions. After Sierra Leone, Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality in the world. In fact, the highest maternal mortality in the world is in Badakhshan, a province in the northeast of Afghanistan. AMA is present in every single province of Afghanistan – in each of the 34 provinces, a Midwifery Training School has been established. Since the creation of AMA, 3,500 midwives have been trained, and 80% of them are actually deployed in their own provinces as midwives. Sabera is proud of this achievement but says that many more midwives are needed. Sabera told me that in this country, 85% of births are home deliveries by unskilled midwives. AMA’s goal is to improve the health of mother and child throughout Afghanistan.
Sabera worries about what will happen to her country and her work after the foreign troops leave in 2014. She is committed to staying in her homeland and working for her sisters as long as security allows her to. Her dream is that every Afghan woman should have access to a trained midwife, and that every Afghan child should have a healthy mother.
Manizha Naderi, Executive Director of WAW, and Huma Safi, Program Manager of WAW also met Sabera and Saleha. This was a wonderful opportunity for these brave women leaders to meet and share about the nature and scope of their work. Now that an introduction has been made, both organizations will remain connected and invite each other to relevant meetings and initiatives.