Thursday, April 19 , 2018, 5:13 am | Light Rain 49º


Direct Relief Women Celebrate Mother’s Day with Benefit in Support of Maternal, Child Health Care

Dr. Steve Arrowsmith describes experience on front lines of obstretric care in developing world, and Direct Relief’s vital role

[Click here for a related Noozhawk photo gallery.]

Miracles were in the making as more than 100 supporters gathered at the fourth annual Direct Relief Women Mother’s Day Event at a beautiful home on Fernald Point Lane. The event benefited Direct Relief’s maternal and child health-care programs.

Guests dressed in casual spring attire mingled around a shimmering serenity pool and embraced the warm summer breeze from the ocean only mere steps away.

Linda and Mark Schwartz graciously opened their home to guests supporting and helping to create healthy families around the world.

There is a greater need for this type of care in poor areas of the world, with 99 percent of all childbirth-related deaths occurring where health services are limited or not available at all. More than 250,000 women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth each year.

Direct Relief Women works to increase the availability, access and quality of health services during the full spectrum of pregnancy to the victims of disaster, political strife and poverty through service, education and financial giving in both the United States and worldwide.

The Goleta-based nonprofit organization helps the process by equipping midwives with the tools to provide life-saving delivery, antenatal and postpartum care.

“Direct Relief Women is really working to raise money to buy midwife kits,” said Kim Thomas, the event’s co-chairwoman. “And each midwife kit will help women in the villages have all the supplies they need to deliver safe births.”

For the cost of only $25, Direct Relief is able to provide for a safe birth for both child and mother, and more than 20,000 safe births have been provided for with the $500,000 in funds raised from the previous three Mother’s Day events. This years Mother’s Day Event funding goal was $125,000 to support 5,000 safe deliveries worldwide in 2014.

A second form of assistance is expanded emergency obstetric care, providing equipment to suitable health facilities, such as ultrasound machines and birthing beds.

Third, is fighting obstetric fistula that, if left untreated, causes women uncontrollable and constant leakage of feces and urine. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 new cases develop each year.

The special fundraising and education event also included a special guest speaker, Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, an obstetric fistula surgeon, instructor and medical adviser to Direct Relief’s fistula program.

Arrowsmith has dedicated his life to helping women who suffer from the condition that is caused by prolonged and obstructed labor. He shared with Noozhawk his role in the program and benefits that Direct Relief provides.

“I’m actually a consultant for Direct Relief in helping them to come up with the most efficient packaging for medical and surgical supplies to do the kind of surgery that we do in the developing world,” Arrowsmith said. “Direct Relief has really been a model in terms of learning a lot about the condition that they are trying to help and the people they are trying to serve.”

In the past, Direct Relief Women have conducted service trips to Direct Relief partner health-care sites in Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico.

The largest killer of children under 5 years of age is childhood pneumonia, making it more deadly than measles, malaria and AIDS combined, and the cause of death for 10.5 million children around the world.

In the Santa Barbara area, Direct Relief Women host fundraisers during the year to create awareness for maternal-child health initiatives. For more information on future Direct Relief Women events and activities, email Hayley Firestone Jessup at [email protected].

The efforts and support from Direct Relief to areas and people in crisis — locally and worldwide — would not be possible without the generous support of volunteers and supporters.

Some of the other forms of assistance that Direct Relief provides include the Healthy Smiles Program, Replenishment Program and the Direct Relief Network.

Depeche Mode band member and Montecito resident Martin Gore was first introduced to Direct Relief when he moved to town, and he emphasized to Noozhawk that the organization is really special and needed.

“There’s lots of disasters around the world all the time and just to have access to medical supplies and the fact that they have people on the ground that they can get those out there so quickly is amazing,” he said.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, Debit

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >