Of all the universal truths of motherhood (and of parenthood in general), one stands out for being a reality that affects all stages of a child's -- and entire family's -- life. We're talking about commitment -- all kinds of commitment of course, but financial commitment specifically. No matter where you're from, having a baby is expensive. And in many countries, the actual act of birthing a baby is expensive; that is, birthing a baby safely, securely, and sterilely, to ensure the health and wellbeing of both the child and the mother.
Having sufficient funds saved up can wonderfully support a healthy delivery; however, for many mothers in Uganda, having to take care of young children while possessing very limited means by which to make income can lead to great stress and potentially serious problems when it comes time to deliver their child. Without money saved up, mothers are unable pay for transportation to the hospital/health center, safe mama kits, or supplies related to antenatal care and a hospital stay, let alone the additional costs incurred if there are any complications with the pregnancy.
In order to encourage effective budgeting for maternal healthcare costs, this summer SAFE interns Hitomi Hayashi, Dara Schmitt, Serena Rodriguez, Kate Fritton, and Michela Mickler launched a pilot program called Save for Safe Delivery. The purpose of the program is to promote savings among pregnant women to be used upon the delivery of their baby to cover the costs of transportation, supplies, and care. SAFE has involved local community groups in this project to communicate the details of the program, provide support, and conduct follow-up visits with the participants to check on their progress and offer encouragement.
Women who participate will be asked to purchase a wooden box in which they will deposit, ideally every day, a small amount of money (100 UGX). On three sides of the box there will be a 7 x 11 grid, and each day the mother-to-be deposits money she will color in a box. During follow-up visits, a community group member will check to see that the participant is on track and to answer any questions and address any concerns.
In order to gauge interest as well as the level of awareness of some of SAFE's other programs among mothers-to-be in the community, the interns attended an antenatal clinic at Lubira health center and interviewed some of the women. The information they gathered allowed them to determine the feasibility of Save for Safe Delivery as an effective and useful program for mothers. Here are some of the questions they asked:
- What is your name and age? How many children do you have? How many antenatal appointments have you had?
- How much money do you have saved for your delivery?
- Would having a box like this [presented box prototype] help you save?
- How much would you pay for this box?
- How much money could you put in this box per week during your pregnancy? Total?
- Do you know what eRanger is? Safe Mama kits? [Note: if they did not, the midwife explained]
- The eRanger will cost 3,000 USX and a Safe Mama kit will cost 10,000 USX. If you had
enough money would you use both?
- Would rather keep the box at home or at the health center?
SAFE is supporting this program financially to get the ball rolling, but the hope is that the money collected through box sales and the support provided by the community groups will ultimately allow the program to be self-sustaining. Save for Safe Delivery is another initiative that is truly bringing SAFE's vision and mission to life! We look forward to sharing updates about the progress of Save for Safe Delivery with all of you!