A kick in the ribs: Children enjoy good health

Editor's note: World Vision is committed to improving the lives and well-being of children in our programs around the world. In doing so, we hold ourselves accountable for 15 measurable child well-being outcomes, grouped under four categories that are referred to as "child well-being aspirations." This is the first of four posts that will relate to these aspirations.

Aspiration #1: Children enjoy good health

My son has really long feet. Well, at least I think he does. I’ve only seen them during my 20-week ultrasound, but every day, I am reminded of these feet as they practice future soccer skills on my right ribs. Sometime during the next few weeks, I’ll actually get to see these feet, tickle those toes.

As I approach the birth of my first child, I feel the probably typical, mother-to-be anxiety about labor, delivery, the demands of caring for a newborn, and the life-changing realities of becoming a mother.

But six years as a photojournalist with World Vision reminds me of another anxious reality for the majority of mothers around the world — a reality where ultrasounds and finding out the gender of the baby are unimagined luxuries; where prenatal care is non-existent; where more than one out of three women anticipate giving birth without a skilled birth attendant; and where 9 million children under the age of 5 die every year.

Hasia with her son, Sabiou, in Niger. (Andrea Peer/WV)

Some of these mothers are my heroes — like a woman I met, Chantal, who gave birth under banana trees during the Rwandan genocide with only a razor blade, a thread, and the help of a female passerby. Or Hasia in Niger, who carried her deathly ill son, Sabiou, on the long trek to the clinic, hoping against hope for recovery. Miraculously, these women and their babies all survived.

Sadly, the fate of other mothers and babies has not been so fortunate. I recently learned of the passing of a young Ugandan mother who hemorrhaged to death before help could arrive. Relatives embraced her day-old orphaned daughter, but tragedy came again. This little girl fell ill and was rushed to the hospital.

I know that children whose mothers die in childbirth are 10 times more likely to die young than children whose moms live, but I was hopeful for this little orphaned girl. Tragically, like 3.8 million children worldwide, she, too, passed away in the first weeks of life, simply because the local hospital lacked the necessary antibiotics to treat her.

None of us are immune to tragedy, no matter where we live. But I’m grateful for the luck of being born in America and the chance of giving birth in America. I’m also sobered by the hardships and obstacles facing millions of women and their babies around the world.

With simple solutions such as skilled birth attendants, immunizations, exclusive breast-feeding, bed nets, and oral rehydration, the lives of six million children could be saved each year.

Six million is a huge number to fathom. But as my baby kicks me in the ribs, I realize that for the mothers of those children, it’s just their little one that matters.

Read related posts:
Child well-being aspiration #2- Pink Floyd got it wrong: Children are educated for life
Child well-being aspiration #3- A time to dance: Children experience love of God and their neighbors
Child well-being aspiration #4- Why registration matters: Children are cared for and protected

Read more on the World Vision Blog about: child health child well-being

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