Emily Seteyio is dedicated to reducing the high infant mortality rate in Kenya, and she’s going the distance to make it happen. She used to regularly walk six miles to protect just one baby from HIV. More than 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV, but pregnant women and their babies are especially vulnerable to the disease. Prenatal care and hospital births reduce the chances of mother-to-child transmission. But neither of those are common practice for women living in remote areas.
Because doctors and nurses are out of reach, rural women often turn to traditional birth attendants to assist them during labor. Unfortunately, many attendants don’t have the proper equipment or training to prevent HIV transmission between the mothers and infants under their care.
So Emily stands with the vulnerable women of Kajiado, Kenya. She empowers them with the resources they need to have safe deliveries and healthy babies – even when the mothers are HIV positive. Since 2012, she’s served as a community health worker after training from World Relief Kenya. Emily volunteered for the role because she was concerned about the mothers in remote areas who were without access to quality care.
Emily visits mothers in their homes and counsels them about the benefits of giving birth in health centers. “In the hospital, there are gloves and equipment that prevent the spread of HIV from the health caregivers to the mother and child,” Emily said.
Pastors often serve as vital links between community health workers and vulnerable mothers. Through collaboration with a local pastor, Emily was able to make sure one high-risk woman had transportation to the health facility for the birth.
But during her pregnancy, Emily would regularly walk six miles from the health facility to the woman’s remote village. Since she was HIV positive, Emily encouraged her to give birth in a health center so her baby could live free from the virus.
Eventually, the woman delivered a healthy baby boy in the health facility, despite her high-risk pregnancy. This wouldn’t have been possible without Emily’s dedication – and the support of the local church.
Check back each week in January to meet more heroes like Emily – women and men standing for justice in the most vulnerable places around the world. Join the movement at EmpowerAHero.org today!