Mt. Pinatubo erupted 20 years ago and along with the devastating physical effects, the social ramifications of that volcanic explosion effect us still today.
Last year, Mercy In Action started looking and praying for the right location to start our next free maternity center. Ian & Vicki took two weeks to travel the islands by scooter (only tossing each other from the bike once), to scout out possible locations. There were a number of considerations that had to be met for our new location, including the mentality of the local people and government, the feasibility of moving our clinical staff and our own families, and the all the practicalities of setting up a home base for this international-scaled operation we call Mercy In Action. But the most important factor, as it has ALWAYS been, is someplace where mothers and babies are lacking compassionate care at a crucial moment between possible life or death - Childbirth.
Herein comes Olongapo. When Mt. Pinatubo blew, the Aeta tribal people were scattered from their original homeland and become "internally displaced peoples". They are resettled here, on the outskirts of Olongapo City, and twenty years later they are still the outsiders - the homeless. This sad fact is reflective in their maternal / newborn outcomes. We recently conducted a household health survey of the Aeta people and discovered that 82% of the women give birth without the presence of a skilled birth attendant. On average, one child per household has died (not every family has suffered this tragic loss, but since some families have lost multiple children, it evens out to 1:1 child death per family), and everyone knows a mother who has died giving birth...friends, sisters, wives, lost while bringing life into this world.
World Health Organization, along with every credible global health authority, state LOUDLY that MORE skilled birth attendants are needed to reduce these unnecessary mortalities. This is what we do...We are conducting weekly prenatals,
postpartum and newborn home visits, and will be opening our birth center soon to meet the need of compassionate and safe assistance during childbirth.
Check out more pictures on our progress in the Aeta Resettlement Village, Iram.