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Becoming a health volunteer

One woman's story of heartbreak and hope
November 23, 2016

Yvanne and her healthy baby girl.

Yvanne and her healthy baby girl.

One of the many stories heard during the recent community health program evaluation:

Yvanne is a beautiful young mother of a healthy 6-month-old baby girl. She lives in the community of Dubedou, one of six communities served by the community health program. Seated on a hard wooden bench in the back of a turquoise church, with chickens running around our ankles, she shared with us her personal story of heartbreak and hope.

Several years ago, she was pregnant with her first child. She did not seek prenatal care but hoped for the best. About six months into the pregnancy she wasn’t feeling well and she hadn’t felt the baby move. She didn’t seek help right away but at the urging of her local community health volunteer, she finally made the 3-mile walk to the Clinic of Hope.

There, the staff suspected that her baby was no longer alive but they sent Yvanne to a hospital in a city for further evaluation and treatment. There an ultrasound revealed that her baby had indeed died some days before and Yvanne’s life was in danger. The doctors were able to care for Yvanne and ensure her life was saved.

Yvanne credits the community health volunteer for urging her to seek help in the first place and the Clinic of Hope staff for getting her to specialized care in time to save her.

While saddened to lose her first baby, Yvanne now has a baby girl who is healthy and growing. Because of outreach by her community health volunteer, she had prenatal care during her second pregnancy and was attended by a skilled provider during her delivery.

Yvanne explained valuable information she learned from her community health volunteer – how to tell if her baby has pneumonia, how to prepare oral rehydration solution if her baby has diarrhea, how she breastfed exclusively for the baby’s first six months, how to keep her home clean and maintain good hygiene for her family.

Yvanne is now a community health volunteer herself, recognized by leaders in her community as an example to others and now part of the same network of volunteers that transformed her life. She attends regular trainings to better serve her community.

She especially serves as an advocate for pregnant women in her village, ensuring they get the care they need during pregnancy and delivery. She told us: “If someone is pregnant and they aren’t getting medical care, I tell them to go. If they won’t go, I take them! I know now how important it is because it saved my life.”

Written by Beth Sethi, HFH team member and past board member.

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