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Delivering a chance at life

©VSO/Peter Caton

Each year, over 2.6 million babies die within the first 28 days of life. But there is an answer. Thanks to our supporters, VSO volunteers have been able to pass on the skills and experience needed to save hundreds of lives. 

Our volunteers are passing on their skills and experience to local nurses and midwives, who in turn share what they've learned, creating a powerful ripple effect. Each piece of knowledge passed on has the power to save hundreds of babies and mothers.

The golden minute

Sarika and the midwives she is training in Ethiopia ©VSO/Peter Caton

Sarika (middle) is working alongside local midwives, sharing her skills and experience.

VSO volunteer Sarika is working alongside nurses and medical students in the Mulu Asefa Primary Hospital in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. The hospital serves up to 1 million people in the surrounding area and is often extremely busy. 

With limited electricity and resources, knowledge is often the only thing staff have to help save a baby's life.

"Many of the staff here have only received basic training, but they work hard and are keen to learn. When I first saw the midwives delivering a baby, I noticed that they took a long time to do the first vital assessments, to check that the baby is ok. When the baby is in distress, every second counts."

"The first minute of life is key to a baby's survival - we call it the Golden Minute. I've been teaching the staff here the importance of the Golden Minute, ensuring that babies get the best chance at life here in Ethiopia."

Working together to keep babies alive

New born twins being cared for in a neonatal treatment centre ©VSO/Georgie Scott

By passing on their skills and knowledge, VSO trained midwives are helping to give more vulnerable babies a fighting chance at life.

Identical twins Ben and Fred were born via C-section at the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda. When they were born, each weighed just 1.41kgs! They were being cared for by Gerieke Zandberg, a VSO volunteer paediatrician. 

“The mothers and babies here are really resilient. But it’s tough because the medical facilities here simply don’t have the equipment, medicines or training they need, and often the babies die because of that.”

“We have to be inventive here in Uganda. Using what’s on-hand to save lives. Even plastic water bottles can be re-purposed to create make-shift CPAP machine - to give little lungs the help they need to breathe.”

“What’s important is not just supplying equipment, but really working together with the local staff and transferring knowledge.”

Creating change that lasts

A VSO midwife holding a baby ©VSO/ Claude Kamba

Deborah helps to train other midwives, passing on her expertise to help save more babies.

Deborah Nangoma is a Ugandan midwife and paediatric nurse volunteering in the northern part of her own country. She is helping to establish the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in a hospital in Moroto.

“I became a nurse because I really had a passion for healthcare. I love people and I love children. I decided to volunteer and share my skills because I’ve always had the desire to serve my people.”

“There is energy for change here in Uganda. Working with VSO and volunteering is such a good way to support my country. By using Ugandan volunteers like me, it’s a real boost for our motivation.”

“Volunteers can sometimes be better than money - we have passion in our heart to help.”

Your support is making all this possible. Your kind donation will help us to share the knowledge and experience of more transformational volunteers, so that together we can train the Changemakers of tomorrow.