Cristina Albino and Salete Vicente live in the remote community of Mussicadzi 2 and they are both mothers, so they know what it’s like to walk long distances to a remote health clinic, or to give birth at home on their farm. The two women have a lot in common: they are both mothers of 7 children and they have both dedicated their lives to a very important mission – ensuring that all pregnant mothers in their communities get the health care they need.
Cristina and Salete are Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) but in their communities, they are referred to as matronas, or “mother’s helpers”. They were trained to be TBAs as part of Gorongosa’s Ecohealth program, which was made possible with the support of USAID Mozambique. Their job involves educating pregnant mothers about the importance of delivering their babies in health clinics; working with the communities and clinics to vaccinate children; educating households on hygiene for improving health; and assisting pregnant mothers in travelling to a health clinic for delivery.
These two women have a difficult job because of how spread out the households are in this large and remote community. Convincing pregnant mothers of the benefits of travelling to a health clinic that is very far away is another challenge especially with few transportation options in this poor community. They have both accompanied women to the nearest health clinic, which is located 30 kilometers away. Here an expectant mom can stay at a "Casa Mãe Espera" or mother's waiting house. Another local NGO, Comusanas, worked to construct these structures at every health clinic in the Gorongosa District. Since expectant mothers are not sure when labor will begin they are encouraged to travel to the facility with plenty of time to spare. Our data shows that they spend an average of 9 days.
Photo: A “mother’s waiting house” in Vinho community
Despite the challenging conditions they work in, these two women remain positive, saying:
"We accept the challenge and we feel proud to serve our community, but we believe that with time people will have a different attitude and there will be changes."
By Jackson Lucas and Pinho Murive