S.O.U.L. Foundation Project 

Commitment:  Rockflower is partnering with S.O.U.L. Foundation to empower women to deliver with dignity in rural Uganda.
Location: Jinja District, Uganda

PROJECT BACKGROUND

Every day in Uganda, 16 women die in childbirth. With one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, countless women in rural areas continue to deliver their babies in unsanitary and dangerous environments, with less than half (48%) delivering with a skilled birthing attendant. Without the proper education and critical maternal health services, mothers in Uganda continue to die as less than one third seek adequate antenatal care (ANC), and with so many delivering outside of a health center, few receive necessary and timely emergency care when facing obstetric complications. This project will directly serve females of childbearing age living in rural communities in Bujagali Falls, the capital of Jinja District. Rural Ugandan women have a fertility rate of almost seven children, with many living under the poverty line and a life expectancy of only 59 years of age. 

In 2015, S.O.U.L. began the Maternal Health Network (MHN), a program aimed at reducing maternal and infant mortality by addressing the three delays affecting women they work with in their communities: the delay to seek care, the delay to reach proper medical services, and the delay to access quality care. These delays were identified in a community research project in partnership with Global Health Corp fellows. A plan of three phases was put in place to interrupt each of the three delays.

The first phase focuses on educating women so that they can have the necessary information to seek care at the correct time(s). In this first phase, S.O.U.L. launched the Antenatal Education Center (AEC), which provides classes to community members on critical maternal and child health (MCH) education using innovative, context-specific curriculum grounded in the maternal health needs of the rural villages it works in. S.O.U.L.’s curriculum was designed in collaboration with a Ugandan obstetrician, S.O.U.L. MHN staff, and a Health Educator/Midwife as a to be a flexible learning tool grounded in the key findings of its community research project. Curriculum topics include:

  1. Normal Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Maternal Nutrition
  2. Preparation for Pregnancy, Signs of Pregnancy, and Having a Healthy Pregnancy
  3. Signs and Stages of Labor
  4. Antenatal Care and Financial Planning
  5. Elimination of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV
  6. Danger Signs in Pregnancy, Labor, and Postpartum
  7. Birth Preparedness
  8. Newborn and Sick Baby Care
  9. Family Planning, Cervical Cancer, and TB

Since 2015, S.O.U.L. has made a measurable impact in the communities they work in. To date, S.O.U.L. has:

  • Trained over 1,400 women, men, and Village Health Team (VHT) members in critical prenatal and postnatal care, financial and family planning, nutrition, breastfeeding, and positive health behaviors.
  • Provided maternal health classes through the AEC in which over 800 people have graduated. 
  • Distributed 290 birthing kits pregnant women. 
  • Administered over 30,000 doses of prenatal vitamins.
  • Provided over 170 ultrasound screenings for expecting mothers.

OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES

The overall goal of this project is to save the lives of thousands of rural women in Eastern Uganda. This will be done through maternal health outreach by empowering and educating community members on the importance of ANC and key preventable obstetric complications that proper care can help them avoid. Through this project, S.O.U.L. will continue to train, empower, and educate mothers and community partners through AEC, and provide life-saving maternal health services. Specifically, this project will accomplish the following:

  1. Educate and empower an additional 1,000 women and men on vital MCH issues, including the importance of ANC visits, family planning, immunizations, HIV testing and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), postnatal care, developing birth plans, utilizing clean birthing kits, identifying genetic diseases, and avoiding obstetric complications (including fistula).
  2. Provide 200 screenings with S.O.U.L.’s solar powered mobile ultrasound machine, distribute 200 birthing kits to pregnant women who have graduated from AEC, and administer 10,000 doses of prenatal vitamins.
  3. Engage, train, and educate a 50-member volunteer first responder team to provide care in obstetrical emergencies. 

IMPACT

This project is both designed and led by Ugandan women, responding directly to the communities’ needs to empower their women and mothers to give birth with dignity. With the support of Rockflower Fund, an additional 1,000 women will be directly reached through this project. Furthermore, as champions of informed maternal health decisions, these 1,000 women will yield an indirect impact on countless others for other members of their community. And thus, these women will break the vicious cycle of preventable deaths for pregnant women in Uganda.

ABOUT S.O.U.L. FOUNDATION

S.O.U.L. Foundation works to foster sustainable and vibrant Ugandan communities through unique partnerships focused on education, women’s empowerment, food security, and maternal health. The cost and effort behind every initiative is shared by community members, making them stakeholders in their success, which creates long-term sustainability to address the root causes of poverty. Now in its eighth year, S.O.U.L. currently spans two districts in Eastern Uganda and serves over 14,000 Ugandans in 16 villages. S.O.U.L.’s staff, many of them local themselves, work side-by-side with its community members to develop and implement community-based solutions. 

 

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