MOMS’ Work

MOMS works with women, health care workers, and local leaders to reduce maternal and newborn mortality among those with the fewest choices.  

Because MOMS hopes to reach people with few choices, we choose to work in the poorest parts of the world.   

We deliberately chose to go to Sierra Leone when we were invited, as it was listed as the poorest country on earth and had the world’s worst maternal mortality rates.  We went to the poorest corner of the country.  

In Uganda, women in poverty must face motherhood with the complications of HIV/AIDS tripping them.  There, we work in an area where the HIV rate is twice the national average.

In both Uganda and Sierra Leone, centuries of colonialism, exploitation, poverty, and war, and the lack of education, infrastructure, and opportunity combine to effectively eliminate options for millions of women. 

MOMS values collaboration with other non-profits, leveraging each others’ strengths.  Among others, we have worked with the following local and international agencies:

  • One Village Partners
  • Sierra Leone Village Partnership
  • Transparency International - Sierra Leone
  • Men Advocating for Gender Equality
  • Health For All Coalition, Sierra Leone
  • Rural Health Care Initiative, Sierra Leone
  • Circle of Health International
  • Friends of Ruwenzori
  • Friends of Sierra Leone
  • Kitojo Integrated Development Association

In Sierra Leone

Small teams (one to three people) travel to Sierra Leone twice each year for about two months.  We teach birth attendants (TBA is the term they themselves prefer) to make significant changes in their communities. 

Each team works diligently to build rapport and credibility, modeling behavior, especially the style of teaching and providing care.  Key in this is showing patient, careful, kind explanations in both the classroom and the clinic.

MOMS teams have worked mostly in three districts in the south and east of Sierra Leone.  

Kailahun District

  • Pellie 
  • Jokibu
  • Daru
  • Ngolahun (twice)
  • Gbalahun

Pujehun District

  • Jendema
  • Blama-Massaquoi
  • Massam

Bo District

  • Tikonko
  • Gerihun
  • Gbaiima-Songa

Each of these classes draws from a catchment area of 10 to 15 more villages, so we have reached about 110-165 villages.

How MOMS works

MOMS waits for an invitation, then builds a partnership with the people at the training site.  The community leaders, clinic staff, the birth attendants, and representatives of women’s groups meet with us several times to clarify the roles and responsibilities of each of us.  

A small team of fully qualified, skilled teachers travels to the training site to hold the class, which lasts almost four weeks.  The teams teach the learners four things:

  • Connect the women and children of their neighborhood to the nearest clinic.
  • Teach the women and girls, especially, about health.
  • Act as a role model for all they teach.
  • Provide sound maternity care, under the guidance of the clinic staff.

After they pass the rigorous exam and attend the practica to demonstrate their hands-on skills, they are given a certificate as a MOMS Community Health Worker.

At the end of the training, the women organize themselves into one or more groups.  MOMS gives a micro grant for the women to create a self-sustaining business.  This is often a garden or produce wholesaling venture.  When profits come in, the women can divide one-third among themselves.  Another third must be reinvested in the business.  And the last third must benefit the community in some way.  In some cases, they lend money to women needing transportation to the hospital; the family pays back this loan by working in the business.   

MOMS teams do not just parachute in, do their thing, then leave.  The relationship continues — a unique feature of MOMS model.  

  • MOMS Sierra Leonean staff visits the group monthly during the dry season to monitor progress, answer questions, and continue building the partnership.  
  • When a MOMS teaching team comes to teach the next group, the team visits previous groups to conduct continuing education and provide support.  
  • About every two years, while a MOMS team is in Sierra Leone, all the women gather for a Jamboree, a time of celebration and continuing education.  

Thus, the TBAs become Community Health Workers, gain an income, and support other women in need.  They gain a much-valued skill and become economically independent.  Their neighbors receive thoughtful, evidence-based maternity care and have a role model to guide them to better health.  They share their hope and pride with their community!

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