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Open to Opportunity: Blessings Emerge to Expand Abod Birthing Centers

Greetings Abōd® Shelters Friends!

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Ginny Shiverdecker, Executive Director

Getting deeply involved with mission work in a developing country like Africa means never knowing where an opportunity may surface. One unfolding opportunity we currently are seeing is consistent with one advocated by Melinda Gates, Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is in the medical arena where the spotlight is going on women’s birthing conditions and processes, especially in rural Africa where long standing cultural practices are deeply entrenched.

The facts are stunning:

  1. According the World Health Organization women in Africa are 175 times more likely than women in developed regions to die in child birth. Each year in Africa over a quarter of a million women die of pregnancy related causes. Although we believe many are not tracked because they are not known.
  2. An estimated 4 million babies die in the first 4 weeks due to labor complications but most die at home unaccounted, and invisible. Over 1 million babies are stillborn, of whom at least 300,000 die during labor. A further 1.16 million babies die in their first month of life – up to half on the first day.
  3. Complications from child birth have increased incidence of cerebral palsy.  A baby’s fate is to be cast out of the family most times left to orphanages and if not left without anyone to care for them.

The idea of establishing the first Medical Birthing Clinic in Asikuma, Ghana sprouted from mission adventures of Doug and Dawn Vander Weide, of West Des Moines, Iowa, working as volunteers with Acts 2 Collective. They began with the desire to build a basic medical clinic to provide care for ailing children of the community, many of which were orphans arriving at the Acts 2 Collective campus. While observing the situation when laying the ground work, it became apparent many children’s physical impairments began at birth. Contributing factors include no trained assistance at the time of birth, unsterile conditions or the inability to provide the right care immediately after the baby is born. If the birth is attended by a midwife, she may lack the knowledge necessary to help when the process gets complicated.

Abōd Shelters® were built in Asikuma, Ghana  to be used as Maternity Centers for safer deliveries and care.

Motivated by this insight, Doug and Dawn worked toward developing a solution that would be a two-pronged approach. Firstly, to raise funds to secure and build two Abōd Shelters® to act as the first Birthing Center. Secondly, to upgrade the mid-wifery education and training to modern standards by bringing in a certified Midwife Medical Expert to help train local mid-wives.  The plan has taken time to implement but progress has been steady. Identifying the right Medical Expert to complete the education mandate took time. However, now that the Midwife Expert who came from the major city of Accra is practicing on site, we are happy to share Asikuma’s local Mama’s and babies are now being born in a much better facility.  The flagship Abōd Birthing Center is now functioning and making a difference in the lives of Mama’s and their children thereby improving their chances for a better quality of life.

One good thing leads to another… In working with another medical ministry in Tanzania, it became apparent the birthing conditions in rural Tanzania are in as dire conditions. One of the primary ways the Abōd could help was to build an Abōd Birthing Center as an adjunct to the community medical hospital. We have a great basis of learning to build upon from our work in Ghana.

Inside the community clinic where a large room of beds are located. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Outside the community clinic. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

However, you will see in the above picture the very challenging conditions of the hospital. Thankfully, with generous donor funds in place we not only built the Abōd structure but were able to complete it with key features. To start, the new Abōd Birthing Center is a modern clinical environment for Midwifes to help Mamas through the birthing process. Its features include tile floors, proper drainage, a shower and sink with water access and medical supplies for easier access. There are two birthing theatres with specialized beds and curtains for privacy. Donors contributed funds for the beds, while others for the sink and shower.

Abōd Birthing Center built in Tanzania. Photo credit goes to Doug Vander Weide.

The new Abōd Birthing Center was built next to the current hospital. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

During the building process of the Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

After completing the project, we welcomed Mamas of the community to an opening celebration. This celebration alerted everyone to the official opening of the Birthing Center. Mamas from all around expressed enthusiasm for its arrival and came to see the center first hand. They arrived beautifully dressed for the occasion to demonstrate and share the joy.  They lined up to do a tour to get a first-hand look. Village Elders addressed the women announcing from this day forward they no longer needed to give birth at home. They were welcome to come to the center to give birth with much better care.

Local pregnant women walking to the village to tour the new Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

Outside the Birthing Center. Photo credit to Rob Marish with Keystone.

While in the early stages of program development, the Abōd Birthing Center as a concept captured the hearts of many. To those of you who caught the spirit first, donating to help us build this Abōd dream in both Ghana and Tanzania – THANK YOU from all of us at the Abōd Shelters® Foundation. We can see and feel the positive impact from the first step. With your encouragement and donations, we can do much more.

Now with our valued NGO partners, we are looking hard at ways to expand Abōd Birthing Centers in a program across rural areas like Tanzania and Ghana, where ever they are needed most. If you are interested in helping us move this program forward – perhaps you are a donor or have an organization that has interest in bringing a Birthing Center to your community, please be in touch with me at We are keen to work with you to advance this worthwhile cause.

In heartfelt service,

Ginny Shiverdecker
Executive Director

There are many options for private individuals, companies, schools, churches and other organizations to partner with us and make a real difference. Check out how to Partner With Us or simply connect to Ginny Shiverdecker at ginny@abodshelters.comYou may also donate to build an Abōd.

Open to Opportunity: Blessings Emerge to Expand Abod Birthing Centers