From pregnancy to motherhood, this photo essay explores the journey of three brand-new mums living in poverty in Uganda.
12 Jul, 2018
For pregnant women in developing countries, the saddening reality is that many find themselves struggling to access resources to assist with their pregnancy and childbirth.
Uganda has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, averaging 5.8 children per woman. This high number, in turn with other social issues, contributes to one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
We’d like you to say hello to three beautiful mamas involved in one of Compassion's Mums and Babies survival projects in Uganda. They have received practical, emotional and spiritual support, taking them through the journey of pregnancy to motherhood.
Together, we celebrate their beautiful bubs!
To Mama Kate.
I was 14 years old when my mother died. My dad had two wives and so we were sent to live with my stepmother. After he died the beatings and verbal abuse started.
In 2000, I moved to Kasangati and got married at 17. Shortly after I gave birth to my son. I faced a lot of challenges as a teenager mother. Many people didn’t approve of the pregnancy and we faced a lot of social pressure.
The man I met as a teenager who had later become my husband left me for another woman.
For years I used to hear people in my village talking about how Compassion had helped them. Then one day a lady who goes to my church brought me to their office. When I came they welcomed me and arranged for a visit to my home. Shortly after I was told I would be registered as a mother about to give birth with Compassion.
When they told me that I was registered I felt so happy. It gave me hope for my baby. With the coming of Compassion into my life I have hope that this child will be provided for in the absence of her father.
To Kate’s daughter, Pamela Grace.
I was 41 weeks by the time the baby came. She was three kilograms and her name is Pamela Grace, after the Compassion staff member [who helps us].
The project staff have been regularly visiting us and Pamela and I have also been walking over there to [the program activities at] the church. It is such a wonderful feeling to have their support, especially as I’m a single mother.
All I want is for this baby to be healthy and to be educated.
I wash her three times a day to make sure she stays clean, and I also put baby powder and lotion on her body so that she has a good smell and her skin is in good condition.
I love this baby, I have so much love for her.
I want to be remembered as a mother who was good to her children, well behaved and loving.
To Mama Rahuma.
At 13 years old I had to drop out of school because there was no longer any money left for me to continue in my education.
Up until recently we have not been living a good life. All we want is to be able to sustain ourselves, but the little money my husband makes selling chapatis is not enough.
Sometimes we cook once a day and the little we cook we find a way to divide into two meals.
Of course, I had the thought of having an abortion, but I eventually said to myself, ‘Let me give birth to my child.’
I sometimes think, ‘How will it be? How will it be carrying a baby?’ But when I see my friends go through it, I encourage myself. I’ll also be able to make it. One day some members from the local church came looking for women in the community who were pregnant. They told me about the Compassion program and invited me to an information session.
Without Compassion I wouldn’t have received good antenatal care. Here in Kigungu there is only a government hospital, but many mothers and children have died there so I am glad [that] we are going elsewhere [with the support of the program].
To Ruhama’s daughter, Faith.
I still think about the fact that when we went to the hospital we were two and now we are three.
I feel so proud that she is my baby; I feel very good about being a mother. The responsibility has been good as it’s given me things to do.
When she is awake I play with her, otherwise she is sleeping or feeding or bathing well. When I look at her I can see that she is calm and peaceful. That is what Faith is like.
We named her Faith as we hope she has a faith in God. We also named her Faith as I had to have great faith that she would survive.
I am so happy with my baby. She has been sleeping well and feeding well and I feel like things are settling down.
To Mama Juliet.
Growing up, my parents were peasant farmers and I was one of nine children. My siblings and I didn’t really get a chance to have an education. We would miss examinations and regularly move from one school to another until the [school fees] accumulated too high.
When I wasn’t at school I would help my family in the garden. If we had sweet potatoes we’d eat them the entire year. We didn’t have a balanced diet. There were many times I would go hungry and only take one meal a day.
[After I married] I fell pregnant quickly and I used to fall sick frequently. We didn’t have money and so sometimes even when I was sick I couldn’t afford the transport to get the hospital, let alone the doctor’s fee. When I did have money for the doctors they’d tell me that I was dehydrated, and [that] my blood pressure was very high.
They told me that I might lose the baby and I was very worried.
It was around this time that the Compassion project approached me about becoming registered into their program after a member of the church committee saw that we were in need. I was four months’ pregnant. I remember feeling like my heart could rejoice and my hope was restored.
I knew that without their help I would likely miscarry this baby. From that point on, whenever I would fall sick with the pregnancy I would go to the project and they would send me to hospital.
To Juliet’s daughter, Christine.
I feel so happy. I feel good. I am also a mum now. I am picturing how life is going to be like when I go home with my new baby. I’ve always wanted to be a mum.
From the time I got this baby my life has completely changed. She is a source of joy. Before, I would keep around here at the house when Tata [my husband] was at work. But now there is somebody to speak to, someone to laugh with.
She is a happy baby. You can tell that by her cheeks. Christine is doing really well! She’s healthy and so am I.
Being pregnant and living in poverty creates numerous challenges for families, especially for women who have no support network within their community. Through the Compassion Mums and Babies survival project, these mothers are now confident in knowing they hope for their child’s future, and a supportive network to call upon. Together, we can reduce the rate of infant mortality and equip struggling mothers towards a bright future.
Words by Ellyse McCallum; interviews and photos by Helen Manson.
Source: CIA World Factbook