International Midwife Assistance

International Midwife Assistance

This fascinating organization is based in Boulder, Colorado and reaches out to help women around the world.

Here is an introduction to what they do:
In 2003, Boulder, Colorado writer and activist Jennifer Heath returned from doing humanitarian relief work in Afghanistan. The child of a diplomat, she spent her formative years living in Kabul. She was devastated by the condition of the Afghanistan she found and was particularly struck by the painful and obvious need for maternal/child healthcare. She brought together a group of women to implement her vision of outreach from American women directly to Afghan women. As the Midwife Training and Infant Care Program working group, these women fundraised and organized a trip to Afghanistan. In April 2004, Carmela Weber, who later became IMA’s executive director, and midwives Jan Lapetino and Jennifer Braun traveled to Afghanistan.

When the three women returned to Colorado, they were convinced they could make a difference in Afghanistan. Six members of the working group decided to incorporate and became International Midwife Assistance. The first project in Afghanistan was in Bamiyan,
at the Community Midwife Training Program and Bamiyan Provincial Hospital. Students were recruited from rural villages to participate in an 18-month program, with a commitment to return to their homes to practice in basic health centers and community health centers. IMA midwives participated as technical advisors, providing vital clinical mentorship to the students.

The licensed and highly experienced IMA midwives and nurses were a critical resource in Bamiyan. They created a clinical environment that supported the students in becoming high-quality, reliable solo practitioners. As importantly, the organization is committed to modeling kindness, compassion and strong ethics. The first group of 22 midwives graduated in Bamiyan in March 2006. The graduates are currently practicing in rural Bamiyan.

When IMA incorporated in 2004, the mission statement envisioned eventual projects in other locations. Today, IMA is working in Soroti, Uganda, forging partnerships with local and international nonprofits to help the poorest of the poor in the Teso region of Uganda. We provide health care to the marginalized, impoverished and most-vulnerable people living in and around Soroti, including former internally displaced persons (IDPs). IDPs ran from terrible violence. The former IDPs relocating near Soroti have fled either the Lord’s Resistance Army or the Karamojong Cattle Warriors. They have fled with little more than their lives and the clothes on their backs and they lack access to even the most basic medical care. Our clinic, the Teso Safe Motherhood Project (TSMP), offers them free comprehensive medical care, including prenatal, family planning, birth services, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment and childhood vaccinations.

UGANDA

Before new projects, IMA staff and volunteers undertake an in-depth needs assessment to determine what services and method of operation will be most useful for each environment. The situation in Afghanistan is not the same as the situation in Uganda. Cultural norms and local capacities are also different. For this reason, IMA tailors its programs to suit community needs. In partnership with local organizations, IMA effectively supports efforts to bring critical services to populations most in need of quality maternal/child healthcare.

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