If we ever needed to be sure of why the St. Francis Emmaus Center existed, watching nineteen year old Leticia sit at our table with her newborn son in his arms and share the story of his birth with a sheepish grin was all we would ever need.
They arrived about 48 hours after his birth, the little one she calls Jervis Andres, her second son. This nineteen year old mom recounted that she had planned to come to the St. Francis Emmaus Center to await his birth, but when she had gone into labor in the middle of the night, it was impossible to leave, walking hours in the dark alone, and there had been no one there to care for her toddler son.
So in the wee hours of the morning, her mother had arrived and she had taken off walking, in labor, to try to seek help and get to the hospital. But before her journey was finished, she knew that there would not be enough time for her to make it to help and that the baby was coming.
So she wandered off the path into the jungly woods, sat on the ground and gave birth to her son. She knew enough to wait for the placenta to be born, then cut the cord with the stem of a dried banana leaf she found on the ground nearby. She took off her own shirt, wrapped her newly born baby in it, got up, still bleeding and just minutes after giving birth, and walked the two hours back home carrying her baby.
Thankfully, Leticia and Jervis were both healthy and suffered no major health threats from his unexpected birth. But the possibility for disaster is obvious and her story confirms the need for these mamas and babies to have a trusted place where they can arrive and stay with confidence as they await the births of their babies and then be provided compassionate, culturally sensitive accompaniment as they access a safe, attended birth at the local hospital.
Safe births save lives. That is a proven fact. And your donations to the St. Francis Emmaus Center make this life-saving work possible every day. Since 2013, more than 1,200 moms have accessed the center and the support we offer. That is countless families affected by your generosity. And that, friends, is world-changing.