On A Personal Note …

16 09 2015

It is a rainy, cool day here in Tabuk City, Kalinga and I am having a quiet day at home. I was thinking that some of my blog readers may be interested in knowing a little about what our day-to-day life looks like here in the Philippines.

I imagine most of the joys and struggles that families experience are pretty much the same regardless of where we are in the world. However I suppose some things are different.

GROCERY SHOPPING

We usually get what we need for our meals every day at the market. We don’t have a big fridge (or ref as it is called here) so we hit the market every day and see what they have. Depending what time of year it is, different fruits and veggies will be available. It is an open market with people calling out to you to buy from them. Some days there will be frogs, eels, bats and maybe even be a cow’s head for sale. I usually skirt by those vendors and choose the chicken, Tilapia or beans. Not very adventurous, I know!

Zion and Lucas at the market.

Zion and Lucas at the market.

SCHOOL

Emmaus is in grade two now and he leaves for school at 7:00am (usually getting up 10 minutes before it’s time to leave) and comes home for lunch from 11:30-1:30 and then back to school until 4:30pm. It is a long day! Trying to get any homework in at the end of that day is nearly impossible. And he does get homework as well as exams every quarter! Emmaus is one of the few English-speaking kids in his class so he has been learning lots of Ilokano from his friends. Emmaus also has a Tagalog class and he needs to know Butbut to speak to his grandparents. Lucas is in Kindergarten and so has it a bit easier – for now!

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.

Emmaus school ID which MUST be worn every day.

FAMILY TIME

I know for a lot of families in my home country of Canada, family time is spent on ball fields, hockey rinks, soccer fields etc. For us, that isn’t really an option as there aren’t any organized sports teams for kids. I am sure some of you moms and dads think that sounds like heaven! 🙂 Our family pretty much spends all of our time together as work and regular life seem to happen simultaneously. If I need to go into the clinic, I will take some of the kids with me and they will play with some of the other kids who came with their moms. If Achao needs to go in search of supplies for a building project, he will pack the kids in the multicab and head out to look for it.

Ok I have to say it – Vacations in the Philippines are awesome. We only need to drive for 4-5 hours before we reach an amazing beach with white sands and clear blue water. Who wants to visit?

Pagudpud Paradise

Pagudpud Paradise

VISITORS

This has been the area of our lives that Achao and I have probably had the most “discussions” about. For the Kalinga culture it is seen as an honor to host guests so when we were first married we had a constant stream of visitors coming to “honor” us by letting us cook, clean and host them for days at a time. In the past few years it has slowed down; I probably offended someone by asking how long they were planning on staying or something. But now it is pretty much just close family members who show up unannounced, planning to stay indefinitely. This I don’t mind at all as it means that Achao’s dad comes often and stays with us. He is a genuine pleasure and we have told him that he can live with us forever.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.

The day that Apu Awoy caught a small bird and tied its foot for the boys to place with … Mom untied it pretty quickly.





What a Night!

6 07 2015

Last month I had an amazing opportunity to be a part of an unplanned home birth … well it wasn’t planned by me, but it might have been planned by the mom! 

First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the mother. I have known her since she was eight years old. She was one of the kids who used to follow Crystal and I around Pakak when we would visit there back in 2004. I also took her for check-ups when she was 10 and it was discovered that she had TB of the spine. She was successfully treated and recovered well.

Late last year I heard that this dear girl, lets call her Sunshine, had gotten married and was pregnant. Talk about making me feel old! She had been away for a few years working in someone’s house and so I hadn’t seen her recently. When I saw her at our outreach to her village I was surprised to see a beautiful grown up young lady in place of a little girl.

Sunshine came for a few prenatal visits and we were able to provide her with all her prenatal tests. Her pregnancy was very straight-forward and she and baby were doing just fine.

I reminded Sunshine every time I saw her to text us whenever her labor starts and we could come pick her up and take her to the clinic. I said that I would love to be her midwife and she said “Ok”. Ha! I just love the no nonsense Butbut culture. She knew that it was a bigger blessing for me to be her midwife than for her to have me as her midwife!

So one evening last month we got a text that Sunshine was in labor and that we should come and get her quickly. Alex, Claire and I jumped in the car and took off. We knew from prior experience that when the ladies from the village text us, we might only have minutes to get there before the baby is born.

We arrived to find her very close to delivery. She was in her one room, bamboo house with the wind blowing through, keeping it nice and cool. The house soon was surrounded with kids, teenagers and mothers of the community that all had arrived to cheer her on. Sunshine’s mother was also there giving her support in between nursing her own young child.

We set up the emergency birth bag that we always bring with us just in case we can’t get back to the clinic in time – like this time!

Soon Sunshine was pushing and a little while after, a perfect little boy was born. It seemed like the whole village was outside excited to meet the baby. Most of Sunshine’s younger brothers and sisters were in the house and all so excited to meet their nephew.

After the birth Sunshine’s husband asked around if anyone had something to eat for dinner (it was past dinnertime) and no one did. They found some dried beans in the house and put on a pot of rice. Within an hour after the birth we encouraged Sunshine to go and urinate in order to prevent her from bleeding too much. Well, with no bathroom in sight she went outside and found a private bush. While she was doing this her mother got a bucket of water and rinsed out the house. It was an easy task as the floors were made of bamboo and there were big spaces that went through to the ground below.

We checked mom and baby again and then headed back to the clinic.

We midwives all had the biggest smiles on our faces as we drove home.

I had the biggest smile of all as I was so happy that I could help my dear young friend Sunshine as she became a mother.

Everyone getting a look at the new baby.

Everyone getting a look at the new baby.





We Help Babies Breath

2 06 2015

At Abundant Grace of God we take our job very seriously.

Every day we are faced with the job of keeping moms and babies safe throughout one of the most vulnerable times of both of their lives.

This May we had a visiting midwife (Sora Colvin) come to Tabuk and re-certify all the midwives and nurses in neonatal resuscitation. Most babies don’t need to be resuscitated at birth, but for the few that do, staying calm and knowing what to do saves lives.

Marivic and Jona practice what they are learning.

Marivic and Jona practice what they are learning.

Alex and Edolbina practice a scenario.

Alex and Edolbina practice a scenario.

Claire and May-Anne

Claire and May-Anne

In fact, just a few weeks after our training, we had a baby deliver at our clinic who needed extensive resuscitation after delivery. The midwives stayed calm and gave the baby the support that he needed. The midwives got him breathing on his own and after a short stay at Almora General Hospital under the care of our referring paediatrician this little baby is doing great. If this mother had decided to deliver at home on her own, or without adequately trained midwives, his story would have been very different.

We were also updated on emergency breech delivery and shoulder dystocia management.

B-lyn, Melody and Marivic practice resolving shoulder dystocia.

B-lyn, Melody and Marivic practice resolving shoulder dystocia.

Thank you for supporting the work that we do here in making sure that every mother and every baby has the best care possible.





I delivered at Abundant Grace of God because…

4 04 2015

I wanted to share some stories from our patients about why they are choosing to deliver at our clinic.

Anna*

“I was so glad that I delivered here at Abundant Grace of God [Bugnay site] because I felt safe and taken care of well by the staff. Especially that I had a hemorrhage when I gave birth before at [another location], I didn’t feel safe there because when I hemorrhaged it took them so long before they stopped the bleeding.”

Some of the mothers from the village of Buscalan share about their experiences at AGGMC.

Some of the mothers from the village of Buscalan share about their experiences at AGGMC.

One of the mothers from Buscalan (neighbouring villages) that delivered at our Bugnay site.

One of the mothers from Buscalan (neighbouring village) that delivered at our Bugnay site.

Mary*

“I chose [to deliver] here in Abundant Grace of God because the clinic is well ventilated, has very clean rooms and bathrooms and the employees are very kind to their patients, they treat them all equally. Also it is Philhealth accredited.”

*Mary shares at our Labor and Delivery seminar about her experience during the delivery of her first baby at AGGMC.

(*not real names)

We are so glad that the women of Kalinga are choosing to deliver at our clinic and that we have the opportunity to share God’s love with them in a practical way.

Labor and delivery is the time in a woman’s life where she can be the most vulnerable. Too often in the developing world the workers at local health facilities and hospitals use this time as an opportunity to shame the women and make them feel guilty.

The following is a quote from a fellow missionary working at a Birthing Home in Manila. She had the chance to talk with a senior medical student in regards to attitudes surrounding labouring women in the Philippines.

“What I learned was that birth is often seen as an opportunity to shame and frighten the woman giving birth: not because the exhausted, overworked health provider is mean or malicious, but because it is the time when a woman is at her most dependent and vulnerable, that one can instill such hatred for the process that she will not want to bear any more children. It is a time to make the mother feel badly for poor compliance of prenatal check-ups or for being seen as an eyesore to a society desperately trying to pull out of the “developing world” category.”

In contrast, we at AGGMC want women to feel empowered, loved, cared for and protected  during their deliveries.

Our vision is to “Share the Love of God with the families of Kalinga” and we sincerely pray that every woman that enters our facility will feel that they are loved, not only by us but also by their Heavenly Father.





An Emergency Transport in the Mountains

5 03 2015
The amazing and beautiful staff at the Bugnay clinic.

The amazing and beautiful staff at the Bugnay clinic.

I just got back yesterday afternoon from a quick trip to the Bugnay clinic. I was taking one of our partners from Samaritan’s Purse to see the clinic there and also to drop off one of the Tabuk supervising midwives to spend a few weeks with the staff in Bugnay.

While there, the staff updated me on one of our very high risk patients. Mary* had been repeatedly admitted to the hospital for signs of pre-eclampisia throughout her pregnancy and repeatedly sent home “better”. She was now only seven months pregnant and was sent home again from the hospital two days before. My midwife Rema had done a home visit for her that day and her blood pressure was sky high again and she was so swollen that she had a hard time moving around. Rema and the other staff told Mary that she needed to go back to the hospital again. Mary decided she would just follow the doctor’s advice and return on Friday for her regular follow-up check-up. My midwives asked me if I could try to convince her to go back to the hospital. They knew that at any moment she could have a seizure or a stroke and then both she and the baby would be lost.

I agreed to visit her and try to convince her. So just before myself and Raija-Liisa (from SP Canada) left for Tabuk, we went to visit her in her home. I was praying silently as we approached her house that God would give me compassion and the right words to say. When I saw her lying in her bed, so swollen from her feet to her chest, and checked her blood pressure to see it was off the charts,  I was filled with compassion. We spent about an hour with Mary discussing her options and in the end we decided instead of taking her back to the closest hospital (who kept sending her home) we would take her back with us to Tabuk.

The midwives at the clinic started an IV line on Mary (which wasn’t an easy feat with all her edema) and we lay her down in the back of the car and drove to Tabuk. When we reached the hospital, the doctors and nurses immediately started caring for her. Her blood pressure was even higher than when we left Bugnay and she was starting to have severe headaches. The staff were unable to find the baby’s heartbeat. They were planning to get her prepped for an ultrasound when Raija and I left her in the hands of the very capable staff.

A few hours later I received a text from the doctor that she had performed a cesarean section and delivered a stillborn baby. Mary’s life had been saved but unfortunately not her baby’s as well.

It is heartbreaking to think of Mary’s loss, but I know that if she hadn’t had the C-section on that day that her life could have been lost as well. (The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery of baby and placenta. There is no other treatment. If left untreated, eclampsia will cause multi-organ failure, seizures and/or stroke and ultimately death for the pregnant woman).

Please pray for Mary and her family as they grieve their loss.

Please pray for the Bugnay staff as they continue to grow in strength, skill and wisdom in dealing with these very difficult cases in such a remote area.

(*not her real name)





What about some numbers …

9 01 2015

I thought it may interest everyone to hear some numbers from Abundant Grace of God.

One of the best things about being supported by a German organization (Geshenke der Hoffnung eV:  www.geschenke-der-hoffnung.org) is that they have forced me to keep track of the things we are doing so that we are able to calculate our effectiveness and impact. Let me tell you that statistics are not something that I enjoy, but since doing this I have been excited to see the numbers of people we have been reaching with God’s love.

2014 Statistics!

588  ~ women were enrolled in prenatal care.

3287  ~ prenatal visits were done.

Midwife B-Lyn during prenatal check-up.

Midwife B-Lyn during prenatal check-up

1360  ~ postpartum visits were done.

286  ~ women delivered at AGGMC.

Bugnay clinic patients at Christmas party.

Bugnay clinic patients at Christmas party.

236  ~ women attended a prenatal seminar with devotions.

5030  ~ is number of times that we prayed for patients at AGGMC.

Well-Baby graduates.

Well-Baby graduates.

50   ~  mothers were trained in an 8-session program of basic childcare.(Well-Baby Program)

40   ~ outreaches were done in villages surrounding our clinics in Tabuk and Bugnay.

Outreach into Lacnog.

Outreach into Lacnog.

31  ~ Filipino student midwives received short-term training at our clinic.

8  ~  of the AGGMC staff had babies this year 🙂

Claire (L) our nurse and Kate (R) our Social Worker.

Claire (L) our nurse and Kate (R) our Social Worker.

6    ~ missionary midwives received training.

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3  ~  new Registered Filipino Midwives were trained and hired at AGGMC.

Karen and Gail doing hands-on practice.

9%  ~  of women were transferred to hospital during labor.

32%   ~ of women who delivered with us were first-time moms.

40%  ~ of women who delivered with us had previously delivered at home unattended.

IMG_1025

0   ~ Maternal deaths

0   ~ Newborn deaths

100%   ~ of women surveyed said that they experienced God’s love at AGGMC.

 

Thank you for your continued support to make 2015 an even better year than last!

 

 

 

 





Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Staff and Volunteers of AGGMC

27 12 2014

Thank you for all your support this 2014!

May God bless you all this coming 2015!

AGGMC Staff Christmas Party

AGGMC Staff Christmas Party





Celebrate Christmas With Abundant Grace of God

14 11 2014

Hi everyone!

I came up with a great idea this Christmas.

Maybe it’s because I have a hard time thinking of good ideas for Christmas presents, but whatever the reason let me share my idea.

When I think of Christmas I often think of Baby Jesus and how his mother delivered him unassisted in a barn because there was no room for them anywhere and no one willing to help them.

Baby-in-a-Manger

How about this Christmas, sponsoring the delivery of a mother and baby much like them?  (Minus the baby being the Son of God of course!)

There are so many mothers here in Kalinga that still deliver their babies at home without someone to help them and in conditions very much like a barn. We at Abundant offer these mothers a safe and comfortable place to deliver, with well-trained midwives who love and take care of them in their hour(s) of need. We don’t require that these mothers pay anything and if they can pay something it is a very small amount.

The cost for one mother to receive complete prenatal care, labor and delivery care, and postpartum visits until six week postpartum is almost exactly $200.00.

IMG_0794

How about sponsoring a delivery this Christmas in the name of that person on your list who has everything?

For a donation between $50 and $200 the person whose name you choose as a “sponsor” will receive a card in the mail with a set of footprints and a brief story about the baby who was sponsored in their name.

You can even do it in your own name and receive the card!

If this sounds like a good idea to you, please click on the “Sponsor A Delivery” tab above and get all the details.

Have a blessed Christmas Season everyone.

 





“Spinning Babies”

5 11 2014

Last week we at AGGMC had a once in a lifetime training opportunity in resolving shoulder dystocia.

Gail Tulley, the founder of Spinning Babies, (www.spinningbabies.com) is a gifted teacher who has come up with a teaching tool that enables midwives to deal effectively with babies that can get “stuck” on the way out ~ and she taught us!

Karen and Gail doing hands-on practice.

We met Gail because we had one of her designs painted on our prenatal wall and we emailed  her a picture of it. She was delighted with what we are doing here in the Philippines and sent us her “Spinning Babies” training DVD for free!

The Fetal Compass Rose

The Fetal Compass Rose 

 

All the staff from our Tabuk and Bugnay clinics got together and watched the DVD. There was some crazy footage of stuck babies being freed …

This is what a midwife looks like when she sees a baby get stuck!

This is what midwives look like when they see a baby get stuck!

 

The next day we Skyped with Gail herself and she answered all of our questions and gave us some more tips and advice. Gail is a warm, generous and gifted teacher and we are so thankful for her taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with us … Oh, and I go the time change wrong and woke her up at 7am instead of 8am … she is very forgiving too!

Thank you Gail!

 

 





Maboy: One of the reasons I am here!

5 10 2014
Beautiful Maboy when I first met her in 2004.

Beautiful Maboy when I first met her in 2004.

Maboy is one of my favourite mothers in Kalinga.

Every time I see her she has a huge smile on her face and she always asks how I am doing.

Since I very first came to Kalinga in 2004 she has welcomed me with open arms to her village of Pakak.

Maboy is the mother of 10 children – all of them as beautiful as she is. She came to deliver at our clinic when we first opened in 2007 but all the rest of her children she delivered at home unattended. This year Maboy found herself pregnant again. We had been doing regular prenatal visits in her village but she was always working in the fields when we were there so we barely saw her during her whole pregnancy. In the first week of July I happened to see Maboy at her home and asked her if she would come and deliver at the clinic. I told her we would come and pick her up no matter what time of night or day. I told her I was worried about her, because of her multiple pregnancies she was at risk for having a difficult labor and delivery. I think sometimes it is hard for mothers of so many children to believe they need help during their deliveries– especially when they have done it themselves for years! Maboy just smiled at me and said “we’ll see.” And so, I as very surprised to see Maboy come into the clinic one day for a prenatal check-up. She was having some common discomforts of pregnancy and we were able to send her home with a good quality medicine for a low cost.

We got word from Pakak a few days later that she was feeling better. Then, on the evening of July 7 , we got a text from someone in Pakak that Maboy was in labor. The midwives on duty drove out to the village to pick her up, with their emergency birth bag in tow – you can never tell if the women are going to deliver the minute you get there or even possibly on the way back to the clinic. Maboy was still in early labor so the midwives took her back to the clinic. By early morning I went into the clinic to see how she was doing. She was exhausted from having strong contractions all night but still no baby. We gave her IV fluids and lots of encouragement. A few hours later, with a lot of support and help from her midwives, Maboy delivered a beautiful baby girl.

A few hours later as Maboy lay resting in the postpartum room, she shared that this was such a hard labor for her and she wasn’t sure that she could have done it herself. She told me that she decided this little girl would be her last. I feel so blessed to have been able to help her with the delivery of her last baby and to have made sure that she stayed safe and healthy for all her other children too.

Maboy holding baby Zanelle as she gets her BCG vaccination.

Maboy holding baby Zanele Grace as she gets her BCG vaccination at the clinic.