Rochester Rotarians changing lives globally with maternal and baby health program and other grassroots initiatives

Rochester Rotary

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero; Barbara@eafocus.com; EAFocus Communications, 248.651.7536/586.817.8414; Sara Przybylski; sara@eafocus.com; 248.877.9200

Rochester, Mich. –July 10, 2013 –Jay Eastman, M.D., president of Rochester Rotary Club, recently attended the Rotary International Conference in Lisbon, Portugal with his wife and fellow Rotarian, Linda Eastman. Rochester Rotary Club is a member club of Rotary International, a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders that provides humanitarian service and encourages high ethical standards in all vocations.

Mrs. Eastman was invited to serve on a panel at the conference at a session titled “Focus on Maternal and Child Health,” where she discussed the midwife training program she and Dr. Eastman implemented two years ago in rural Guatemala. The program is called ‘Helping Babies Breathe/Childbirth Emergencies.’ Linda shared her experiences teaching midwifery skills to women who cannot read or write. She also discussed how Helping Babies Breathe/Childbirth Emergencies was developed and how it empowers traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to deliver healthy babies by providing them with urgently needed equipment, supplies and knowledge.

“Knowing that their village midwives have had training and now possess up-to-date equipment, pregnant women feel more confident and less apprehensive as their due date approaches,” said Mrs. Eastman. “Birth outcomes are improved for moms and babies, and this contributes to the well-being of the entire family and community. This program has been so successful that it will serve as a pilot for scaling up to other parts of the country.”

In addition to the improvement in birth outcomes for the community, the program has provided additional benefits. By working together, traditionally opposing groups set aside their differences to work for the common good.

“As Rotarians, we promote peace between individuals, using the Four-Way Test as a guide,” said Mrs. Eastman. “It is extremely satisfying to see former adversaries work on the same team to make their communities stronger and to save lives.”

According to Mrs. Eastman, the community is not the only group to benefit from the training program.

“Perhaps we trainers experience the most profound changes of all. The deep gratitude shown by the midwives is what keeps us going back. To witness first-hand the challenges and hardships the birth attendants endure – delivering babies in the dark on dirt floors, walking a mile or more through the jungle in a rainstorm to attend a birth and the helplessness they must feel when they know they are too far from a hospital and the birthing mom will not survive because she is bleeding out – I am filled with respect and awe at the brave, dedicated women who heed the call to help other women in their hour of greatest need.”

Mrs. Eastman first became involved with maternal care at the global level when Dr. Eastman, a pediatrician, was asked to carry out a needs assessment for a Rotary project in the hinterlands of northwest Guatemala in 2001.

“I never imagined the impact this request would have on my life,” said Mrs. Eastman. “During the past 12 years that project has evolved to include not only the midwife training program, but a medical clinic, a thriving water project, an early intervention literacy program, a Worms-Be-Gone initiative, a scholarship to send an indigenous village health promoter to nursing school, the Village School Textbook and Library project and a visit from a Guatemalan vocational training team that came to the U.S. to learn about alternative therapies to mental health problems.”

According to Mrs. Eastman, where there are challenges, there are always solutions.

“We are committed to find those solutions, engaging Rotary to change lives,” said Mrs. Eastman.

About Rochester Rotary
Formed in 1954 and one of 34,000 member clubs of Rotary International, Rochester Rotary raises and disburses funds for charitable, educational and scientific purposes. Monies are raised through social events and service projects organized by the club, ‘fines’ collected at Rochester Rotary meetings and gifts offered to the club through members and supporters.

The club welcomes new members who live or work in Rochester, Rochester Hills or Oakland Township. For membership information, contact Jeff Whitbey at Jeff@whitbey.net. Rochester Rotary meets each Tuesday at noon at the River Crest Banquet Hall on Avon Road and Livernois in Rochester Hills. Learn more at http://www.rochesterrotaryclub.org/.

About Rotary International
Rotary’s main objective is service — in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The 1.2 million Rotarians who hail from Rotary clubs in nearly every country in the world share a dedication to the ideal of Service Above Self. Rotary clubs are open to people of all cultures and ethnicities and are not affiliated with any political or religious organizations. Learn more at http://www.rotary.org/en/Pages/ridefault.aspx.

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