Joe and Deborah Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, Central African Republic. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Joe is a technical adviser for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. To support the Troesters, or another of the ELCA’s 230 missionaries, go to www.elca.org/missionarysponsorship.
March 8 was International Women’s Day – a good time to reflect on the needs of maternal and infant health care throughout the world.
Here in the Central African Republic, one out of five children will not live to see their fifth birthday. The CAR has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1,355 deaths per 100,000 live births. Women usually give birth at home in unsanitary conditions, with the help of family members or local birth attendants with little or no formal training. If there are any complications, the mother or child, or both, often die.
A bright spot in this sad picture is the Emmanuel Health Center, where a team of health workers provides pre- and post-natal care, safe deliveries and pediatric care, including treatment of malnourished infants and children. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of CAR runs two such clinics: Emmanuel Health Center in Gallo in western CAR, and the Maternal and Infant Health Clinic in Bohong in northwestern CAR. The church also sponsors a community health program, which sends health workers into villages to give vaccines and provides pre-natal counseling and follow-up care for newborns and their mothers.
In other news, thanks to an ELCA grant, we just installed a VSAT system that allows us broadband Internet access. This will make a tremendous difference in our work, allowing us access to information and websites that we could not access with our old system. Deborah has already found information on the Internet that has helped her students at the seminary.
Many people think that everyone has broadband, but this is not so. The Central African Republic is on the other side of the digital divide, and that divide has only broadened during our four years in this country. Most Central Africans do not even have electricity or running water, much less access to the internet.
Thanks ELCA for your help. And thanks to all of you who contribute to ELCA-Global Mission!
Deborah and Joe Troester
Baboua, Central African Republic