Were You Born in a Hut or a Hospital?

As an American speaking to other people who may be American or in other more advantaged countries, this might seem like a crazy question. “Everyone is born in a hospital,” you might say, “unless some emergency keeps them from getting there on time.”

It all depends on when and where we are talking about. Although I was not born in a hut, I was almost born in a barn on Christmas Eve in 1938 while my mother was there helping my father with some things on the farm where we lived in Tennessee. We did not have electricity, indoor plumbing, or a telephone. However, it was possible to get a physician from about ten miles away to come over muddy roads and arrive in our house in the middle of the night to deliver me. Virtually everyone in our area back then lived in similar circumstances. Now, nearly 100% of the babies around there and throughout the U.S. are born in a hospital.

Another thing that impresses me is the huge improvement around there and elsewhere in the U.S. in maternal and infant mortality rates since 1900. In walking through cemeteries near where I was born, I have seen many old grave markers with evidence of that.

You might think that all of this is past, but unfortunately that is not the case. Huts are still common places for births in many developing areas. Millions of babies are still being born under circumstances much worse than mine. The United Nations reported that in 2012, there were 6.6 million children under age five who died. That’s a big improvement compared to a decade earlier, but there is still much more to be done. Sierra Leone reported 2,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 people — about 1,200 times the rate in the U.S.

Several organizations on this HelpingWorldwide website are trying to help meet this critical need. The largest number are in “Get Involved in Medical Outreach” category. Others can be found elsewhere.

The Bible has several stories that urge help for mothers and little children. In Luke 18:16, Jesus told his disciples to let the little children come to him. It still applies now. Of course, mothers and children must first survive being born. I hope that some of the material on this website will be useful in that regard.

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