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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Birthing hope

Women's maternity ward cases range from Lee Siwilol (left) enjoying a quiet moment with her third child after a difficult delivery, to Deline Fal, who had her first child, a 5 pound girl. "I was very scared," Fal confides, her face shining with awe. "I'm learning how to take care of her, how to wash her with fresh water and soap."

Maternal and infant mortality is extremely high in parts of Madang Province, where three of 10 children die before age 5, and two of 10 mothers die in childbirth, says Don Kudan, health director for the Lutheran church in Papua New Guinea.

"Mothers dying in childbirth is not often at this hospital," says Ailynn Fua, Yagaum's administrative assistant. "But it is often in the whole country." Gesturing to an empty desk, she says, "My friend Renie who used to work here, she died in childbirth. She was at home having problems, and we told her to come see the doctor. But she said she was fine." Brushing a hand over her eyes, Fua adds, "It was really hard."


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August issue

AUGUST issue:

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