Zainab (Aged 16)

Outreach midwife Bernadette reassures Zainab

We heard of Zainab before our trip to Sierra Leone in September 2016.  She was 15 years old and 37 weeks pregnant. She lives in one of the districts of Port Loko with her partner’s family.

Six weeks later, when we arrived in Sierra Leone, Zainab had yet to go into labour, and had not been seen by a doctor. Local practice is to wait till labour commences before seeking medical, and even then assistance is usually not sought.  At 43 weeks, this seemed a dangerous option for the young Zainab.

We visited Zainab’s village, together with Aberdeen Women’s Centre midwife Bernadette, and asked for permission from her community to take Zainab to AWC in Freetown.  After two days of negotiations with three villages, we were finally given permission to take Zainab and her sister in law to AWC in Freetown.

Zainab, delivered her baby boy the following day via c-section and she and her healthy baby were returned to her family and community.

The wonderful news is that now everyone in Zainab’s village knows, and importantly, trusts the work of the Aberdeen Women Centre.

Zainab is featured in our SBS Dateline documentary. Please go to this link to watch the full documentary of Daughter of Sierra Leone.

Behind every woman at AWC is a story as compelling as those of the 2 Zainabs and Jakia, and they are the reason we have partnered with Freedom From Fistula and Aberdeen Women’s Centre to ensure their health and safety.

Jakia (Aged 27)

Jakia was five months pregnant, having lost her first two precious children.  Kroo is often described as the worst place in the world to live, with life expectancy at around 32

We came across Jakia when we visited the Kroo Bay slum in Sierra Leone Freetown.  Jakia came running to us because she had heard that a midwife from the Aberdeen Women’s Centre was visiting.

Jakia was five months pregnant, having lost her first two precious children.  Kroo is often described as the worst place in the world to live, with life expectancy at around 32.  Kroo Bay sits on the beach, at the foo of the hills of Freetown.  Every year devastating floods rage through Kroo Bay taking many lives, including one of Jakia’s children.  Yet people return to the area each year and start over.

Her second pregnancy ended when inexperienced nurses tried to push her baby out by pressing vigorously.  She wept as she told us about delivering a dead baby.

This experience, and a fear of Ebola, keeps Jakia away from the health system.  She was overjoyed to hear form other mothers in Kroo Bay that Aberdeen Women’s Centre will delivery her baby safely and care for her and the baby before and after delivery for no cost at all.

In a post-script, it gives us so much joy to say Jakia delivered a health girl at the Aberdeen Women’s Centre March 2017.

Jakia, is also featured on our SBS Dateline documentary ‘Daughter of Sierra Leone’.

Zainab (Aged 37)

Tears flow gently over her face as Zainab tells of her rejection

Zainab was brought to the Aberdeen Women’s Centre for fistula repair surgery by Aberdeen Women’s Centre outreach nurses, from her remote village in Moyamba District. She had been suffering with fistula for a couple of years.

She explained to us when she went into labour her family was unable to take her to hospital and couldn’t afford an ambulance. It took her village three days to raise the money for the ambulance, but it had no petrol. They had to find someone with a motorbike to go the nearest petrol station, take petrol to the village with the ambulance before it could collect Zainab. By then the long obstructed labour meant her baby had died and a fistula had formed. Zainab was malnourished, dehydrated and suffered from infected wounds. Tears flowed softly over her face as she told us that even her own children would not touch the food she struggled to prepare.

We are so pleased to say that Zainab has had successful fistula surgery at Aberdeen Women’s Centre. She returned home with her dignity restored and was welcomed with a feast, dancing, singing and opened arms by her village.

To hear more about Zainab, please click on this link for a mini documentary SBS Dateline did on her.