I was part of a group that visited malawi and this organization. We were able to go to the villages, and see what a difference this organization makes. So many of the infants that we met would not be alive if it weren't for the African Mothers Health Initiative. It was such a great experience to be a part of, and I can't wait to go back!
After spending 5 months volunteering with this organization in Malawi, I returned to the U.S. to continue my nursing career. But, I still wanted to stay involved! I have now joined the team here in the U.S. to do fundraising and promote African Mothers Health Initiative and the wonderful work they do to support high risk infants and mothers in Malawi. It is such a good way to stay grounded and remind ourselves how fortunate we are relative to many people in the world. This work really speaks to my values, one of which is summed up well in the quote "The measure of your life will not be in what you accumulate, but in what you give away". Support this group! They are amazing!
My name is Kimberley, and I have come to Malawi “in-between jobs” to volunteer for a small non-profit organization called African Mother's Health Initiaitve based in Lilongwe, the capitol of Malawi. Unfortunately, and for a multitude of reasons, Malawi remains one of the poorest nations on earth. Maternal mortality rates are some of the highest in the world, and 12% of children die here before age 5; most of those within the first 30 days of life. Lack of nurses and doctors is beyond shortage...it is dire. There are currently less than 300 doctors practicing in Malawi, and with a population close to 13 million, that translates to about 2 for every 100,000 people. As anywhere, most care is provided by nurses, but newly trained nurses often leave the country immediately after graduation for better paying jobs abroad. This is the environment that African Mother's Health Initiative has grown from and is making a real difference for so many.
After identifying high risk mothers and babies in hospital, AMHI provides home based nursing care directly to families in remote villages around Lilongwe district. Children without a breastfeeding mother are supported with infant formula if the family is unable to afford it.
A personal story:
Working alone one afternoon at the hospital-based office during my first week, organizing folders, and sorting through cardboard boxes of donated baby clothes, I looked up to find a young doctor standing at the open door asking “Are you still open?”. “Yes”, I replied, “come in”. She explained that the hospital had had a maternal death that morning, leaving behind a two month old baby. The older parents of the mother were currently in the hospital chapel, and would take the baby with them back to their small village, but they had no money to buy formula to feed him. I felt a wave of gladness that I knew what to do and could help. I told her that she was in the right place, and assured her that I would call and pass along the information to our one of our nurses, who would go over to the chapel as soon as possible. A few minutes after the doctor left, I sat alone in the quiet room and felt a wave of another emotion; grief. The tears came suddenly to the surface and it struck me; this would be my first orphan, the mother dead just six hours. I had already learned that in this country, this baby would most likely die soon after as well without our help.
A week after the baby was enrolled in the program and formula provided, I met the him when his grandmother brought him to our office for a visit, tied snugly to her chest with a cloth, the way all women carry small babies here. He looked well, but was crying a lot and the grandmother said he had trouble feeding. The nurse did an assessment and then demonstrated formula preparation and a healthier spoon-feeding technique. Eating quickly and easily, he soon fell into a peaceful asleep. We found that this little boy had aptly been named Chiconde, meaning Love.
Everyday the work of African Mother's Health Initiative amazes and moves me. I have worked here for nearly four months now and will be returning to the States soon to be with my family. However, I cannot imagine ending my support and trust in this organization and it's work for some of the most vulnerable children imaginable.
The African Mothers Health Initiative works to improve maternal and child health in Malawi. The organization stretches its dollars very far and gets by with the help of volunteers and very few staff.
Review from Guidestar
When I reached out to African Mothers Health Initiative to volunteer while traveling. I was initially impressed by their personal dedication to their mission, the promptness of their response and the flexibility with planning and utilization of my skills. My admiration only grew when I saw first hand the effects of their efforts on the ground in Malawi. The Malawian nurse staff on the ground are among the most dedicated and resourceful individuals I have had the privilege to know. I was touched over and over again by their genuineness in interactions with mothers/guardians and infants in the children in numerous village visits. The nurses delivered concrete supplies and knowledge about infant development/nutrition/hygiene to remote villages that literally make the difference between life and death one infant at a time. I have only positive things to say about my interaction with both the local staff in Malawi and in the US. Would highly recommend as a life changing experience on many levels.
Review from Guidestar