A harrowing escape births a wonderful surprise
Nzia Mowavinga will never forget the day the rebels came to her village.
She was nine months pregnant at the time.
What is usually a time filled with expectation and excitement for a new mother was instead a time of enormous uncertainty for Nzia. In fact, living in a conflict area means a life constantly filled with uncertainties: Is my family safe? When will we eat again? When can we return home?
Nzia lives in Ituri Province in the troubled eastern region of the DR Congo. Here and in neighbouring North Kivu, fighting amongst numerous rebel groups forces thousands of people to flee their homes, sometimes multiple times. With nowhere else to go, many hide in the jungle or walk for days on the roads until they reach safety.
"I was in the village when the attack happened. It was market day, and my whole family was there,” Nzia, 28, remembers. “I didn’t see the rebels, but I heard shooting. As soon as I heard the shooting, I grabbed my two children and ran." Nzia, 28
The Medair-supported health clinic where Nzia received free antenatal consultations and had planned to give birth was burned down in the attack. She didn’t know what she would do. She had no way to pay for the health care bills she knew giving birth at other facilities would incur. She didn’t even have a blanket in which to wrap her newborn baby.
Luckily for Nzia, Medair has set up a transfer service to ensure pregnant women with complications can be safely transferred from Medair-supported clinics, some as far as 80 km away, to Komanda Hospital, the only hospital in the area equipped to handle complicated births. Prior to the transfer service, clinics had no choice but to send pregnant women to hospital on the back of a motorbike, often in the middle of the night.
"Before Medair, we had four pregnant women die on the way to Komanda Hospital. It was very serious,” says Dr Faustin Singo, the Medical Director of Komanda Health Zone. “Since Medair set up this reference system, there have been no deaths." Dr Faustin Singo
For Nzia, the transfer system may have saved her life. Worried for the health of her unborn baby after fleeing her home, Nzia visited the Medair-supported health clinic in another village and asked to see a midwife. The health centre staff immediately referred Nzia to Komanda Hospital. There, Nzia gave birth in a safe and clean maternity clinic to not just one, but two healthy babies! “I didn’t know I was expecting twins!” she says, smiling.
Medair covered the cost of Nzia’s transfer to Komanda Hospital and the birth of her beautiful twins – a boy and a girl named Wilson and Wilsolene.
"Without Medair, I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know how I would have paid the hospital bills. You really helped me." Nzia, 28
Medair supports health clinics in conflict-affected communities in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, delivering free health care to people affected by emergencies – especially pregnant women, new mothers, and children aged five and under – and providing training to clinic staff.
You can help more women like Nzia give birth safely in DR Congo. Make a gift today.