Fulllife Foundation partners with INA to build Maternal Health centre
"They believe that the centre is a real answer to prayers, they were praying and asking for someone to take care of this project because they love their women and their children; they are very important to them."
Ian Shanks, Founder and Director of Fullife Foundation, along with fellow Director Janelle Murley, and his two sons Nathan and Matthew, recently travelled to Ethiopia to visit our project in Shurmo, where the Fullife Foundation has funded the building of a new Maternal Health Centre.
Shurmo, the district where INA has been working in Ethiopia since 2012, is located a couple of hours south of the capital Addis Ababa and struggles with devastatingly high levels of poverty. The area and its population of 22,000 people have long suffered from poor access to clean water and inadequate health facilities that don’t meet government standards.
Inspired by INA’s work in Shurmo so far in the areas of child rights, education and livelihoods, and being moved by the level of need that still exists, Fullife Foundation committed to not only Linking with 40 children in the community, but also funding the construction of a new Maternal and Child Health building.
From visiting Shurmo, meeting the leaders and people in the community and seeing the new building that the community desperately needed, they really understood that this project was essential for building a safer and happier community.
According to Nathan, supporting the building of new maternal health facilities wasn’t a hard decision as it fit perfectly within their vision;
“Our foundation has a focus on women in those maternity stages and children; creating safe environments and to deliver safe births, as well as post-natal care. It’s about not losing lives through preventable means for women and children.”
Pictured: Matthew Shanks takes a photo with one of the local children.
Previously, with only one very basic room for vaccinations, pre and post-natal care, family planning as well as deliveries, the centre was struggling to provide a safe and adequate service. This led to an impossible situation where everything would need to stop and the room vacated whenever there was an emergency delivery. This unpredictable arrangement meant women were more likely to have home deliveries, putting them and their children in danger.
But now with the new building, each of these services have their own dedicated room, so that facilities are uninterrupted and families can be given the best possible care.
The centre is now completely finished, explains Nathan, includes all necessary furniture, and has running water; “It wouldn’t be out of place in Australia, it’s really well built!”
The impact of the new Maternal Health Centre was obvious, with community leaders from different areas attending the opening ceremony, many speaking about what the centre means to the local people. Their gratefulness was clear, even through a translator.
“They believe that the centre is a real answer to prayers, they were praying and asking for someone to take care of this project because they love their women and their children; they are very important to them.”
Because both maternal and infant mortality rates are quite high in the area (and in Ethiopia as a whole), investment in these types of health centres that focus on ante and post-natal health, vaccinations and safe birthing, are so important in protecting communities and giving them new hope.
This is more than evident in the Shurmo community.
“I think the project was a massive one - people were extremely grateful. Lots of people just came up to us shake our hands and say thank you. Elders of the community that were sitting there would catch your eye and nod in appreciation. It was really special,” says Matthew.
Above: Matthew Shanks in front of the newly finished Maternal Health Centre