Across sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 590 million people do not have access to safe, reliable power. Even mothers delivering babies, have no choice but to do so in the dark.
Every single day over 800 babies are born into pitch black darkness*.
During childbirth, health care workers have to rely on dangerous sources of power. Often candles and kerosene lamps are the only avenues to escape the darkness. These methods are notorious for causing burns, fires and even death.
Together we have the power to bring safety and dignity to women giving birth by providing clean and reliable solar lighting.
At SolarBuddy, we believe that no mother should have to bring her baby into a world of pitch black darkness. Mother’s just like Jewel. This is her story.
In a small rural village, on the outskirts of Zimbabwe, 16-year-old Jewel has made her way to the health centre. She has been in labour for most of the day and needs urgent assistance. As midwife, Amara, helps her inside, Jewel is relieved she has made it to the centre before dark and is hoping she will have her baby soon. But, this is Jewel’s first baby with the labour progressing slowly and daylight has all but disappeared.
50 per cent of Zimbabwe** has no electricity. The remaining 50 per cent has very unstable sources with frequent power cuts. Imagine the helplessness mothers like Jewel face when giving birth in pitch-black darkness?
Amara has managed to calm a very anxious Jewel who is distressed and fearing for her unborn child. Amara knows it will be impossible to deliver the baby by caesarean section in the dark and there is no way they can transport Jewel to the hospital.
Now in total darkness, Amara holds a torch in her mouth to examine Jewel, she lit a candle earlier but it’s not enough light to see what she’s doing.
Most mothers know they need to bring candles with them when they are in labour, but Jewel knows none of this. Even if she did, she has no money to buy them.
Several hours pass before Jewel’s labour has progressed. As birth becomes imminent, Amara needs to perform an episiotomy. Still with the torch in her mouth and trying to keep an agitated Jewel calm, Amara does what she needs to do to deliver the baby.
A cry rings out as Jewel’s baby son is finally born into the darkness and it’s not long before Amara has him on his mother’s chest. Despite the odds, a healthy baby boy has been delivered.
But, the danger hasn’t passed as Jewel has started to haemorrhage. With Jewel slipping in and out of consciousness, Amara manages to stop the bleeding, this time. Jewel is one of the lucky ones.
Midwife Amara speaks for all her colleagues when she says, “we cannot work in the dark!”
“Often, we work alone and there is no one to shine the torch so we have to clench it between our teeth. This means we can not see what we are doing, or even how the mother is doing if we are focussing on getting the baby out. It makes it so difficult to help women deliver their babies safely.”
“I have even heard of stories where babies can get swapped after they are born, this happens when there are multiple births happening at once and no one can see what they are doing,” says Amara.
By supporting SolarBuddy you will help to provide midwives like Amara with clean, renewable energy to continue to care for their patients when darkness descends. Your kindness will mean that mothers will no longer have to fear giving birth in pitch black darkness.
“Darkness can kill. Help me to save a mother and her child by shining a light.” Midwife Amara