Before you read today’s post, please set aside a few minutes to view this remarkable link.
It’s on the war (and it is a war) of maternal death in places like sub-Saharan Africa.
Then take a few minutes to read the rest of this post, and, if you’re inclined, you’ll need a minute or two to pray for a Ugandan woman named Dorothy.
Before you start, here’s that link again.
Watch it. You won’t be the same.
One of the more remarkable truths of this old world is how fear can ruin an otherwise fine day.
I have my own fears, of course, (remember this particular fear?) as you have yours, so I write this as a fellow fearful human being who is only on the way.
Even so, this morning at the university gate I bumped into Beatrice, who you can now know is “Grace,” the anonymous woman in this tragic story, which outlines how hard it is for Ugandan women to find a decent man, one who won’t run off in your greatest hour of need.
Beatrice is the sister of Dorothy, who, when they were younger, had been the children’s babysitter and whose story I have shared regularly.
As a family we have loved and prayed for Dorothy even as we have stood back and watched her life be blessed greatly, especially in recent times, first with marriage to a good man, and then the news that she is soon expecting. (Jon: “Can I play the bongo drums on Dorothy’s tummy?”)
But as Dorothy’s due date now approaches, her age is working against her. She’s had bleeding of the placenta and she is ripe for blood pressure complications. She has a small pelvis, and, lastly, though not least significant, Dorothy’s baby now has its umbilical chord around its neck.
For these reasons, Dorothy’s Ugandan doctors have recommended a C-Section. Jean looked at the test results and confirmed recently this is by far the safest way to deliver. Patrick, Dorothy’s husband (remember, he’s a good husband) is not standing in the way.
Dorothy, however, maintains that she is waiting for “God’s will to be done” on this one.
God gets dragged into all sorts of things in what can be a hyper-religious East African culture, which is another commentary for some other time, how religiosity in general can only lead to a certain death.
“As God wills” is also a mantra heard around much of the world, certainly in the Mideast, where we heard over and over during our years in Yemen, and where, in fact, I heard it again a few days ago while in Istanbul asking about Turkey’s recent national vote.
It’s true that plenty of us could do well to ask God at least once in a while just what his will might be in all sorts of areas of our life. Unfortunately, over here it’s also code for “I am so afraid, I don’t know what to do.” Or, “I know what to do, but I am so afraid I won’t do it.”
So, in her fear, Dorothy is about to put herself, and her baby, at risk. What’s more disturbing is how unnecessary it is. No, Dorothy is not some uneducated woman from the village, far from help, at the mercy of other forces, unable to get the care she needs.
But now, if she doesn’t become of the above video’s noted 800 who will die on any given day doing something as natural as bringing new life to the world, then her baby could die.
This is because 15 per cent of all child deliveries worldwide end up with serious emergency. If you’re in the wrong place (like Uganda) … you know the rest.
There are a couple of days left for Dorothy to change her mind and agree to the C-Section. But as of this morning – when Beatrice bumped into me – there is no change of mind.
“Tell Dorothy to consider that God’s will is that she uses her mind. That’s why God gave it to her,” I told Beatrice. “God, more often than not, speaks through other people.”
I didn’t need to say such tough words, though. This is what Dorothy’s family is already telling her, repeatedly. It’s what Jean and I told her the other evening when she and Patrick came over.
Even so, it’s what your prayer can also still be, for an awaking of both mind and spirit.
Because no decision is a decision. And a terribly dangerous one.
Jean could help with Dorothy’s delivery before she gets on the plane to return to Canada where she will see – hopefully – you.
Yes, the other practical step that you can take to help women around the world in this war is to spend an evening, that is invest an evening, at the Nov. 20 Gala of Save the Mothers.
It will be a remarkable event. It always is.
Dorothy’s story, in fact, is one of the reasons that this sort of event, never mind Save the Mothers itself, is needed. To help defeat fear as much as anything else.
Jean and her team have been working tirelessly to make this year’s event another memorable occasion. TVO The Agenda host Steve Paikin is MC and this in itself speaks volumes about the quality of what is being put together. Steve – who received an Order of Canada at the same time Jean did earlier this year (but is not as hot as my wife) – is among the best personalities any event could ever hope to have.
(And, I may add, when Jean interviewed on Steve’s show, it was among the best interviews she’s ever given in the past dozen or so years.)
Much more information about the gala can be found at this rather cool video here, which can share far and wide before than going here to register. The gala is being held at the Paradise Banquet Hall in Concord, north of Toronto.
You’ll seen Jean, there, of course. You’ll learn lots more about that “800.”
And you’ll enjoy a great dinner and evening out with a five-course dinner and good wine and …
Here’s that link again to sign up and be part of a remarkable evening out.
(Tell Jean I sent you.)
(And give her a kiss from me.)