Julia Henning is an intern at the Samaritan’s Purse Cambodia office. This entry was originally posted on her personal blog.
Samnang was born on May 30, 2014, in Svay Chreah commune. In Khmer language, “Samnang” means very lucky. His mother, Sophon, gave this name to her baby boy because his story is special.
Sophon was newly married, and she didn’t know that she was pregnant until a few months into her pregnancy. She had never been to a health center for a checkup, but she received some advice about her pregnancy from women in her village. People in Sophon’s village usually give birth at home with a traditional midwife. But when her contractions started, the midwife in her village was sick.
Sophon didn’t want to go to the health center because she didn’t know what to expect, but the village leader urged her to go because it wasn’t safe for her to give birth alone. Finally, Sophon’s husband, Mr. Heng, took his wife to the health center — and then to the nearby Child Birthing Center — the day before Sophon gave birth.
They didn’t know that the center wasn’t actually open yet. As she was recovering in bed, staff members were decorating around her and setting up for the official opening and dedication of the center — set to take place at 7:30 that morning. Among the 600 people gathered for the center’s opening were Samaritan’s Purse personnel and His Excellency Eng Hout, the secretary of the Ministry of Health.
Samnang’s birth marked a special event in the area. Samaritan’s Purse inaugurated two birthing centers for women in rural Kratie province. In the past, many women took risks during delivery. Their only option was to give birth at home. Mothers and babies died from preventable causes such as bleeding and infections. At the new center, mothers in the area can now receive antenatal care, deliver babies safely, and get their babies vaccinated.
Other than Samnang being healthy, Sophon was also thankful for his birth certificate, a luxury he wouldn’t have had if he had been born at home. She’s excited to share her good experience with other women in the village.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to an outpouring of support for the M’dai Campaign in March, more birthing centers like this one are currently under construction to help rural women in Cambodia have healthy babies.