Family Centered Care for Himalayan Indigenous Communities

PHI pic

The Pemako Health Initiative, a nonprofit that is part of the Healthy Birthing Project network, functions in a small area located in a region of the Himalayan Mountains in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Kathy Morrow, a nurse midwife, founded the Pemako Health Initiative after developing compassion for the indigenous people in this extremely remote region when she witnessed their suffering during her first visit in 2009. There was no access to general healthcare, obstetrical care or emergency childbirth services. Children were dying from preventable infections and mothers were dying from post-partum hemorrhage. The infant mortality rate was 77 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate was 400 per 100,000 births. The estimated life expectancy was 54 years and villagers were traveling up to four days to reach a hospital.

The Pemako Health Initiative was founded on the belief that every family has the fundamental right to have access to healthcare, clean water and a clean and safe birth experience. They are providing access to the most basic healthcare services and sanitation, with their primary focus to provide clean drinking water through Biosand water filters and to build latrines. Kathy works with the community to create sustainable, renewable, long-lasting change by working within preexisting community networks to build a foundation of community education and trust.

Kathy’s work builds momentum with every trip she takes. She impacts maternal and infant health by distributing Delivery Kits for laboring women and training healthcare workers. In the future she hopes to provide access to emergency obstetrical care, trained Birth Attendants, childhood immunizations, prenatal and postpartum care, and basic reproductive health and family planning needs. Kathy is helping to alleviate their suffering by planning to provide access to healthcare in a region where access to safe, loving maternal and infant care and community health are desperately needed.

To learn more about the Pemako Health Initiative, please visit:


Randi Powell

Global Force for Healing Intern

OHSU Senior Nursing Student

Nursing Students Without Borders




Solidarity with International Indigenous People’s Day August 09, 2014

Today is UN International Indigenous People’s Day. This year’s theme is “Bridging the Gap: implementing the rights of Indigenous peoples.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called the estimated 370 million people in 90 countries “powerful agents of change” who must be included in the new development agenda. Due to historical inequities and discrimination, they make up 15% of the world’s most resource poor and 1/3 of the extremely resource-poor rural population.

Power structures and development programs must be created to eliminate obstacles to indigenous people’s rights to self-determination and ability to lead peaceful, sufficient lives. We join hands with everyone seeking meaningful outcomes from the first World Conference of Indigenous people in September 2014, and truly hope that there will be a positive impact on MotherBaby and community wellbeing for marginalized people everywhere.

The Sukuli Project: A Holistic Approach to Maternal-Infant Health


I had the opportunity to work with Sudy Storm in Sierra Leone during the summer of 2011 and witnessed first-hand the change that she was facilitating. Sudy is the founder of the Sukuli Project, operating in remote villages in this West African country since 2008. Sudy first traveled to Sierra Leone in 2001 as a midwife to help improve maternity outcomes. She remains committed to assisting Traditional Birth Attendants and other health care workers to reduce the number of women and babies dying in childbirth.

Sierra Leone has some of the highest infant mortality and maternal morbidity rates in the world. Forty-five percent of all children are expected to die before the age of five. These deaths are caused by many factors, including the severe shortage of medical care, scarcity of medications and educational opportunities.

Sudy believes that maternal-infant outcomes are indicators of the health of the community and cannot be treated separately. Therefore, she takes a holistic approach and addresses multiple factors affecting community health. Sudy has created educational opportunities for village women and children, including training some women as lactation consultants to encourage breastfeeding, and other training for traditional midwives & clinic health workers. The Project has also built latrines and water wells where there was no safe drinking water, donated school supplies, and helped create farm coops.

The Sukuli Project has collected extensive census and demographic data while conducting door-to-door surveys to identify the unique factors associated with high mortality rates. Most importantly, Sudy and her team utilize a partnership approach that involves community members at every step, including decision-making and ownership.

The Sukuli (School) Project’s current focus is the construction of a primary school in Nyanyahun that will serve several villages. The project was the idea of Sudy’s young granddaughter. Sukuli is raising funds for the roof, cement, furniture, teaching materials and certification of teachers. The villagers will provide the labor for construction. To learn more about the Sukuli Project and make a donation, please visit:

We also invite you to listen to an inspiring recent interview with Sudy Storm and two other project directors from our Healthy, Compassionate Birthing network:

Randi Powell

Global Force for Healing Intern

OHSU Senior Nursing

Student Nursing Students Without Borders

Deepening Our Capacity to Love Through Healing Our Birth Trauma

Secret Life of babies

Dr. Mia Kalef is a former chiropractor, a practicing craniosacral, Prenatal & Birth Therapist and gifted healer who explores and re-patterns the traumatic imprints from our prenatal and perinatal experiences. She is also the author of the book, “The Secret Life of Babies.”

Mia’s research has found that the human body is resilient and it is never too late to heal. Also that we inherit and forget about our earliest moments in the womb and at birth. These experiences are then imprinted into our subconscious and replayed throughout our lives. The ability to store memories in our bodies at the physical, mental and spiritual levels has an effect on our health and society. Exploring and healing these unconscious memories not only deepens our capacity for love, but also strengthens our ability to extend compassion to others.

Birth trauma is a cross-cultural phenomenon that women and babies experience in different ways. Traumatic events include everything from inductions and epidurals, to malnutrition and stress. Although these experiences are not remembered they continue to shape, limit and create blockages in our lives. Birth Therapy can soothe the effects of challenging births, and help babies and adults heal from the effects of traumatic births.

Mia guides a four-day Pre-birth and Birth Healing Workshop that teaches participants how to re-pattern an aspect of pre-birth or birth experiences. She also holds a four week online Traumatic Birth Recovery and Healing Therapy Program designed for mothers and babies who need physical and emotional healing after their birth experiences. To discover the depth of healing accessible through Birth Therapy and access programs offered, please visit:

Randi Powell

Global Force for Healing Intern

OHSU Senior Nursing Student

Nursing Students Without Borders


New From GFH: The Role of mHealth in Healthy Birthing Worldwide!

We are thrilled to offer you our new publication, “The Role of mHealth in Healthy Birthing Worldwide, A Survey of Mobile Phone-based Applications (Apps) and Related Resources” (June 2014). You may download the article from Dropbox: You do not need a Dropbox account to access the article. Simply click “Download”, the blue box in the upper right corner of the page.

The article highlights six free mobile apps regarding healthy pregnancy, and maternal and infant health. Each app or SMS texting program serves people in remote global regions where healthcare and educational information are scarce. Some are aimed at Community Health Workers, midwives, and birth attendants, while others may be directly used by pregnant mothers and their families.

The article also features leading organizations developing mHealth (mobile health) apps to diagnose, share patients’ health records, educate health workers and families, arrange patient appointments or emergency transport, and to coordinate care with larger hospital systems where they exist. Finally, we introduce excellent, free audiovisual resources that also help save the lives of underserved women and babies worldwide.

We hope this review of promising new approaches using mobile phone technology contributes in a small way to the reduction of preventable maternal and infant deaths (90% of deaths!), and leads to a healthier quality of life for marginalized families globally.

– See more at:

Kay Sandberg

President and Founder of Global Force for Healing