You live in the highlands of Vietnam. You are 20 years old, married, and expecting your first baby. You and your husband live in a simple house surrounded by other simple houses on the edge of rice paddies. You finished grade school and now help your husband in the fields. Your only means of transportation, other than walking, is riding on the back of your husband’s motorcycle.
As your time comes to deliver, you think of your mother and wish she were here. But she died 12 years ago giving birth to your youngest sister. What will childbirth be like when it’s your turn to give birth?
You’re thankful for the village midwife, Mai, who received government training provided by Samaritan’s Purse. She lives in your village, and you have known her all your life. She meets you in your home regularly to make sure your blood pressure is normal and that the baby is growing well. She advises you on how to prepare nutritious meals, how to avoid getting sick with malaria, and how to prepare for the birth.
She assures you that, when labor begins, she will accompany you to the hospital so you can give birth without fear of complications.
Samaritan’s Purse is now in its third year of training midwives. They undergo six months of training and are then paid by the government to provide care in their own villages. Selection for this training is competitive, and the positions are regarded with favor and respect in the villages. The graduate midwives gather each month with Samaritan’s Purse health and nutrition staff members. They walk up to two hours for the mutual support and refresher training on pertinent topics.
I recently had the chance to join them in the highlands of northern Vietnam, near the border of China. We discussed ways to provide physical comfort and emotional support to a woman in labor. There was laughter and shy excitement as they practiced back massage and words of encouragement.
The value we place on the women we teach and serve demonstrates God’s care for them. By giving these women tangible skills to serve their neighbors, we share the message of His love.