Gomer from our partner organization Midwives for Peace - a grassroots group of 24 Palestinian and Israeli midwives – recently visited the MADRE office with an update on their work.
In the West Bank, Israeli military roadblocks and restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement prevent women from reaching hospitals and accessing reproductive health care. Pregnant women often receive no prenatal care, and women deliver in unsafe conditions or without a skilled health worker. This endangers women's lives during pregnancy and childbirth.
Midwives for Peace saves lives by providing critical prenatal care and childbirth support to women. With MADRE, they provide safe delivery kits that make childbirth safer for mothers. The midwives train each together, share expertise and learn concrete skills.
Gomer is an experienced midwife. She runs a delivery room in the north of Israel, where they assist around 500 deliveries each month. Her patients are a diverse group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian women with a complex range of obstetric needs. As part of Midwives for Peace, she can exchange this experience with other Israeli and Palestinian women.
“We meet four times a year. No matter what, we meet.” She told us that to meet for three or four hours takes a full day of traveling long distances and navigating checkpoints.
As a member of Midwives for Peace since it began eight years ago, Gomer knows this group is just as much about friendship as it is about professional support.
“This friendship is so important in a crisis,” she explained. She remembered what it was like to hear about outbreaks of violence across the lines of the conflict. “You know you have a friend there. They’re an extension of your life, and you worry about them. It keeps the group going, you’re interested in what happens to the people you love and cherish.”
Recently, four birthing centers were shut down in the West Bank for lack of resources, and nearby hospitals are already overstretched. Midwives for Peace is needed more than ever.