Family Trek is honored to have guest blogger Amanda Phillips. Amanda and Ryan Phillips have been living in the Darjeeling District of India for the last 8 years. They spend their time training up local village women to provide health services to their communities, run a small (but busy) clinic to provide basic medicine and medical advise to surrounding areas, run a hospital shuttle, a maternity ambulance and a one room delivery center…All out of their home.
They have two boys, Asher and Shepherd, and a baby on the way, which will hopefully come into the world in said delivery center. They decided very early on that their children would not hinder them from this work but be an intricate part. (Just one reason we love them!) You can read more about their lives at www.ecta-international.org. Ryan, who is a much better writer, keeps a regular blog of happenings there.
We live in Kaffer, India; a very small remote area near Darjeeling, high in the Himalayan Mountains. We have a small clinic to give medicine to people who are sick with simple illnesses, illnesses that you and I wouldn’t even think twice about, but for them they are killers. Fevers, coughs, vomiting, diarrhea; all top killers in India.
We teach the mothers how to treat the fever at home, how to hydrate her child during diarrhea, the importance of giving the full dose of medication. I teach the mothers about their body and the importance of good food and good care during pregnancy.
We work with local NGO’s to train up Health Workers for every village, so no mother has to travel hours for fever medication or prenatal care. We have two ambulances. One is specifically reserved for women that are pregnant and their new babies. They can call anytime and we will come to take them to the hospital, free of charge thanks to a government program. The other is to take other emergencies to the hospital, like people who fall off cliffs while trying to cut fodder for their goats, or have drank themselves into liver failure.
My home is full of life today. On one side, my children are playing with grandma. Books are being read, cars are being ramped into walls, little bodies in constant motion are heating up the room and stuffed animals are watching the progress silently. Sara, our cook, is making dinner for us and our guest.
Who are the guests? That takes me to the other side of my home, our birth center. A laboring mother and her family came early today to deliver with us. The mother walks around, kneels, and talks to her mother. Her mother comforts her worries about the pain and the time it is taking. Her eyes look to me for reassurance that what she says is the truth. There is fear in her eyes. There is fear in all who enter the room, all who are calling to ask if she has delivered yet, all who are at home waiting. I sit silently and watch the progress, smiling to the mother when she winces from the pain, at the grandma as she looks for comfort herself, at the husband who has come to the door.
They have good reason to be scared. They live in a country that looses a mother every 6 minutes, in a world that looses a mother every minute (about 500,000 mothers and 4 million newborns die every year). They know friends, family, or their own mothers who have not made it through. This mother has already repeated several times that she is going to die. I assure her that she is not, and I won’t allow her to. I check her and the baby. “You and your baby are doing great. The pain is normal, it will get stronger, don’t fear. This is what a mother’s love is.”
I go into my living room to spend some time with my boys. They are excited to see me and ask if the baby has been born. They are in the know about birth. My 5-year-old knows all about birth and fetal development. Am I raising future mid-husbands? I teach them a little about our own baby, due to arrive in 4 more months. My oldest ask why it hurts to have a baby, my youngest puts his stuffed animals up his shirt. “Baby’s milk, up. Baby, belly, go down, WEEEEE!” he exclaims, as he pulls the baby out of the bottom of his shirt. “I assure you…it is not quite that fun.”
At any rate, I am glad that my children are not afraid of birth. But I am so sad that millions of women face that fear every year. This is the reason I trained to be a midwife. My husband and I are daily reminded about the suffering, daily reminded about our commitment to the women to provide them with an option without fear.
My children are told about all these cases that we see. They come into the room after the baby is born to congratulate the mother. They attend the funerals of the cases that didn’t make it. They wait for me to finish giving a man his TB medication before eating their dinner. They come to baby naming ceremonies and play with babies that came into this world via my hands.
Sometimes my oldest ask why we can’t live in America so he can see his family more. My answer has always, and will forever be the same. “He who knows the good he should do and does not do it sins.” James 4:17.
Our prayer as parents is that our children will see the Heart of Christ in our daily lives and they will want to pour that same love of Christ onto those around them, no matter where they go in life. I don’t mind if they live overseas, I just want them to find the good they should do and do it with the heart of Christ.
Thanks Amanda and Ryan for sharing with us. You are truly doing a great work. Please visit their site and support their vital cause. www.ecta-international.org