Every time a woman in the developing world falls pregnant, her risk of dying is 200 times higher than that of a woman in the developed world.

Every day, 800 women worldwide die of preventable causes linked to pregnancy and childbirth. India leads all nations in the numbers of maternal deaths, with poor rural women contributing disproportionately to the high maternal mortality rate (MMR).

We've already raised 50% of the £65,000 needed to build a maternity and childcare unit above our existing Medical Centre in the Rhema Garden. Can you donate and help us to get another step of the way there?

Suganthi, a diabetic, was overjoyed when she tested positive for pregnancy at our Medical Centre in the Rhema Garden. Sadly she died just 5 months into her pregnancy due to complications with her diabetes, caused by the pregnancy.

Cumbum, where the Rhema Garden is based, and the villages that surround it, is one of the poorest rural communities in southern India, and is home to around 1 million people. The nearest main Government Hospital is 50km away in Theni, a 1.5 hour journey by bus and often prohibitively expensive to get to. There is a smaller Government Medical Centre in Cumbum but it is severely overcrowded and under-resourced. It provides limited, poor maternity care and is dirty and unhygienic. It doesn’t offer treatment for critical emergency maternity cases and women requiring critical emergency maternity care have to be sent to Theni. There is an urgent need for an emergency maternity critical care unit in the Cumbum area.

A large number of poor women are forced into debt to pay for private maternity care and delivery as they feel this is their only option. A private antenatal check-up costs £10 but the average daily wage is just £1.50. Natural deliveries are rarely offered by hospitals because of the amount of time they take and the attention that is required by medical staff; the majority of women who give birth in a hospital will therefore do so by caesarean section because they are seen to be “quick and easy”. A caesarean section costs £300. Aside from the risks of the operation itself - infection, damage to other internal organs, or the need for blood transfusions - there are many complications that can develop post-birth and which can lead to complications in later pregnancies, including uterine rupture or placental abnormalities.

Ambika’s baby was delivered via c-section in the Government Hospital. Some days later Ambika attended our Medical Centre at the Rhema Garden with stomach pain - her stitching had not been done properly. She was referred back to the Government Hospital as we couldn’t treat her at the Rhema Garden however she refused to return - she felt she hadn’t been given proper care there.

A larger number of poor women still will have no choice but to go through their pregnancies and deliveries without any medical care at all.

Inadequate maternal health care can lead to serious medical complications and even death for the mother, as well as mental and physical disability in the new-born baby. Some of the orphaned and disabled children that Hope Gardens supports through residential care and education are there as a result of poor health care before, during or after birth. Medical conditions such as high blood pressure, gestational diabetes and anaemia, which are treatable in the developed world, can be fatal for mothers in India.

 Our Maternity and Child Care Unit will be built above our existing medical centre in the Rhema Garden

Our Maternity and Child Care Unit will be built above our existing medical centre in the Rhema Garden

In 2009, Hope Gardens (then The Rhema Partnership), in partnership with Benenden and Charterhouse schools, raised money to build a Medical Centre to provide free-at-the-point-of-need care to those living in Cumbum and the 32 surrounding villages. The staff currently includes 2 part-time doctors and 2 full-time nurses who see between 60 and 90 patients on an average day. It is a lifesaving facility for many people who are unable to access basic health care on a regular basis.

At present the only maternity services our Medical Centre can offer is pregnancy testing using home testing kits - the women who come to us cannot afford to buy these in the shops themselves. However, we have to refer them elsewhere for their maternity care. We therefore plan to build a comprehensive Maternity and Child Care Unit above our existing Medical Centre. The Unit will offer facilities for check-ups, an operating theatre, birth ward and a ten-bed unit for post-natal care, and the ability to offer emergency maternity care. It will be a life-saving addition to the existing Medical Centre and will be complimented by a mobile clinic offering pre and post-natal checks to women who are unable to travel to Cumbum.  

Our Maternity and Child Care Unit will be the only dedicated unit for both natural and caesarean section deliveries and treating any emergency critical cases in the area.  

Kala is just one of the many women who are desperate for a Maternity and Child Care Unit to be built at our Medical Centre in the Rhema Garden.

During her pregnancy, Kala had to attend three different hospitals - one in Pudapatty, not far from Cumbum; one in Kudulur, 6 kms away from Cumbum, and one in Cumbum itself. Every time she had to visit one of the hospitals she had to get up very early in the morning to travel and queue to see the Doctor. The travel expenses alone cost Kala Rs 200 (£2.35) per visit - a lot of money when you consider the average daily wage is just £1.50.

When Kala was 8 months pregnant she developed problems with her thyroid function. She was then referred to the Government Hospital in Theni, 40 kms from Cumbum, as her delivery was likely to be complicated as a result. Had Kala gone to Theni, she would have been without the support of family, particularly in the event of an emergency - a terrifying thought for her when she had been told that the life of her, and her baby, was in danger due to her thyroid dysfunction.

Kala’s family ultimately managed to find a private hospital in Cumbum itself that was willing to take Kala on, however the family had to get into significant debt for her care and this meant the family struggled financially.

Kala’s story does have a happy ending - she gave birth to a beautifuil baby girl, delivered via cesarean section.

Kala says that, had there been a maternity unit at the Medical Centre in the Rhema Garden, she would have had a much better experience, with much less stress, and much less debt.

With your help, we can build our Maternity and Child Care Unit and make stories like Kala’s a thing of the past. 

The Maternity and Childcare Unit will cost £65,000 to build, and we want to begin building in 2018. We have already raised half of the funds we need but we need your help to make the Maternity and Childcare Unit a reality. Can you make a donation today and help us to start building?