Birth in Baraka

It is Wednesday and more than two hundred women have come to Baraka’s prayerhouse. Together they pray for their well-being and that of their unborn child. Not so long ago, women delivered at the prayerhouse under the watchful eye of god. Now they are sent to the hospital which is a huge improvement.

The hospital, run by Doctors without Borders in cooperation with the Congolese ministry of health is doing everything to get women to deliver their babies at the hospital. Most women still give birth at home and return to work the next day.

Pregnancy in Baraka is like having a cold here; a nuisance that keeps on coming back, and then disappears again. If complications arise traditional medicine men step in but often their herb preparations cause much harm.

With the help of community workers, increasingly more women are encouraged to make the long trip to the hospital for a safe delivery. Once the baby is born, family members and girlfriends await the newborn child outside. They wear their prettiest outfits and beat the drum on empty jerrycans. In a singing and dancing procession, the group returns home where a festive meal awaits them.

© 2009