The Power of Education…

Posted by on August 18, 2021 in Blog | 1 comment

Invitation to Education 

When we began the work of the Sarobidy Maternity Center 8+ years ago, we reached out to a well-respected local physician who has her own full-scope clinic and asked if she would consider being the back-up consulting physician for our program. She agreed and in these past 8+ years, she’s been an incredible gift– sharing her knowledge and wisdom, receiving our patients when we need to refer them to her and has provided excellent counsel both medically and professionally as our program has grown. Her partnership has been invaluable! 

In Madagascar, childbirth has become a medicalized procedure with numerous and often harmful interventions, lack of maternal consent, and sometimes debilitating complications or fatal tragedies. The Sarobidy Maternity Center has been passionately trying to provide an alternative to the women in our community for the last 8 years. We provide an integrative approach to the normal process of pregnancy, labor and delivery, the postpartum and newborn period. Our care is based on the midwifery model of care which is quite different than the medical model, and we closely follow the International Childbirth Initiative’s 12 Steps to Safe and Respectful MotherBaby-Family Maternity Care.  During our earliest years, though our back-up physician was supportive and willing to help us, she also thought we were down-right nuts with the way we provided care for women and babies.    

Over the years and from a distance, this physician has observed the difference in the way we care for the women and babies in our program and in like manner, she has seen the difference in our patient outcomes. Recently she noted to Rota, the national director of our program, that she is baffled that we see the same patient population but that many of the ladies at our maternity center don’t experience horrible lacerations during childbirth and that we don’t cut episiotomies— both of which are routine outcomes for the women that deliver at her clinic. As they continued to talk, our back-up physician requested that the Sarobidy Maternity Center provide an educational conference to her staff on the topic of physiologic childbirth and training on best practices to support a natural, un-rushed, uncomplicated gentle birth and hence, best outcomes for the MotherBaby-Family unit. WE ARE OVER THE MOON, THRILLED at this upcoming opportunity to move beyond the walls of our maternity center to bring education and training to other health care workers in our city with the hope that more mothers, babies and families will experience respectful maternal care in the future. 

Please pray for Rota and Alissa as they brainstorm their approach for this upcoming training, for Alissa as she develops and writes the curriculum and for Rota as she teaches and advocates for safe and respectful maternity care! In addition, please pray for opportunities to speak about the ways in which our bodies are FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY made by the Lord and as a result, how we can honor Him by walking with women during this incredible time in their lives!

English Center

Jamie’s parents, Rich and Bonnie Shattenberg, lived and worked as missionaries in Madagascar for well over 30 years– the last 15 years of which, they had a ministry that taught English, Computers and Bible to young people who had dropped out of school. Fun fact: the Sarobidy Maternity Center is on the same property where this successful school taught thousands of young men and women.    

Joel (middle in the image below) grew up in the same community as Jamie, the two have been friends throughout the years and Joel attended Rich and Bonnie’s school when he was a teenager and where he learned English.

To put it mildly, Joel has a gift for languages (if I’m not mistaken, he speaks SEVEN of them!) and he has excelled in English. In the last decade, Joel has taught English in various settings for working professionals, mostly in large corporate businesses. In a country where few speak English but many want to learn it, Joel is an anomaly.    

Two years ago, Joel returned to our city of Mahajanga and began working with Eden Reforestation Projects. For years, we have encouraged our key leaders to learn English– it’s a valuable skill as Eden Projects grows and as leaders work with the international US-based team. For the midwives at the Sarobidy Maternity Center, English offers them a new dimension of educational and professional resources that are harder to come by in French and are non-existent in Malagasy.    

Over the last 16 months, Joel has created an English Center on the property of the Sarobidy Maternity Center– the same place he learned English so many years ago. He has seven English classes, divided into three different levels– beginners, intermediate and advanced students, all of whom are employees with Eden Projects or the staff and midwives of the Sarobidy Maternity Center. 

It’s exciting to see the massive strides in the English ability of the staff and midwives during this time! Joel is dreaming about expanding this English center to start a literacy program for the Eden employees and the Sarobidy Creations artisans who are illiterate.  

The Work of their Hands… 

In the months prior to our departure, the talented artisans of Sarobidy Creations were busy making beautiful handcrafted jewelry and ornaments. This group of precious women have been working closely together for nearly seven years. The level of joy and camaraderie that exudes from the room where they work together and laugh often is electrifying. 

As I write this, the work of the artisans has slowed while ours here in California is quickly speeding up as we label, price, photograph and inventory all the beautiful merchandise in preparation to bring it to you! Keep your eyes out for our biggest upcoming Sarobidy Creations sale later in September!

Nelson Mandela once said that “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”. We praise God for the ways in which Malagasy are experiencing education– through English classes, through midwifery training, through health education, through job skills, through environmental stewardship, through reforestation, through leadership training, through discipleship and most importantly through God’s Word. Please join us in praying for hearts and lives to be transformed through the power of Christ! 


With love, 

Alissa, Jamie, Isabella, Eliana and Gavin

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1 Comment

  1. Love love love love love this post.
    Praying for you and all God is doing through you.

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