Yai, with her baby.
Yai, with her baby.

In a remote village in southern Laos, Yai, a young mother with a baby boy sleeping in her arms, talks about the daughter she lost due to an umbilical cord infection. She explains that she used bamboo to cut her daughter’s cord and some string she found in the house to tie it. The baby got sick and by the time she journeyed to the clinic it was too late. Her baby died of a simple infection.

When asked about using a Clean Birth Kit for her most recent birth she said,

After using a birth kit for this baby, we are safe and did not get an infection. The cord was clean and dried well.

The Sad Reality

Yai is not alone in losing her baby. Every year 5 million babies die before their first birthday and more than 200,000 women die giving birth worldwide. Laos, where my organization, CleanBirth.org, works has among the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality in the world. In Laos, 80% of women give birth without a trained attendant or clean supplies. In some villages women birth totally alone, due to religious practices.

How CleanBirth.org Helps

A clean birth kit.

CleanBirth.org partners with a local Lao non-profit, Our Village International, to:

  1. Provide $5 AYZH Clean Birth Kits supplies shown to reduce the risk of infection and death in babies and moms.
  2. Train nurses to distribute the kits and educate mothers at local clinics.
  3. Train the nurses to train Village Volunteers, a woman from every village who distributes the kits and educates mothers.

Local Women Helping Each Other

Tahoy volunteerThe Village Volunteers training is an amazing sight to behold as local women gather to learn from one another, in their own language.  Village health volunteers have been shown to reduce infant and maternal deaths.

Through a new alliance with the Yale University School of Nursing we are improving the trainings we offer to nurses and Village Volunteers.

Here is what, Loy, a local midwife said about the training she attended:

I have been a midwife for two years. After the training by the nurse in September, I helped two mothers give birth. Using the kit, the mother and child are clean. It’s convenient and easy to use. We need more kits.

Join Our Mission

In 2013, over 300 donors came together to fund 2,000 birth kits and train 16 nurses and 20 Village Volunteers.

Become a part of our mission and donate today as we launch our crowdfunding campaign to train 15 nurses, 20 volunteers and provide them with 500 birth kits.  

  • For just $5 you can provide a life saving Clean Birth Kit.
  • For $100 you can train a Village Volunteer.
  • $250 trains a nurse.

For small sums we are bringing about big change and making birth safer in Laos.

Kristyn Zalota is the founder of CleanBirth.org, a non-profit working to improve maternal and infant health in Laos.  Kristyn holds MA from Yale, is a doula and Lamaze educator. She lives in New Haven, CT with her husband and two children. Click here to watch Kristyn talking about her project. Email her are kzalota@cleanbirth.org. 

Connect with CleanBirth.org on FacebookTwitterTumblr and Pinterest.

Join World Moms Blog, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Girls’ Globe and CleanBirth.org for a Twitter chat about making childbirth safe in Laos on Thursday, February 6 at 1-2 pm EST. Use #CleanBirth


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