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Direct Relief Women Raises Funds for 6,000 Safe Births


Six thousand babies will be born safely thanks to the members of Direct Relief Women – a group that supports Direct Relief’s programs targeting maternal and child health – who raised $150,000 at their fourth annual Mother’s Day event held Thursday evening in Santa Barbara.

“The events have helped a lot of women meet their babies for the first time under good care,” Direct Relief Women Chair, Mari Mitchel told the crowd.

More than 200 people attended the event that featured special guest Dr. Steve Arrowsmith, a world-renowned obstetric fistula surgeon who also serves as an adviser for Direct Relief’s fistula programs.

Dr. Arrowsmith explained that obstetric fistula is a hole in the birth canal that is a consequence of untreated, obstructed labor. He said that on average, women with fistula labor for more than three days because they don’t have access to a skilled attendant at birth.

Left untreated, women with fistula uncontrollably leak urine and/or feces. “They smell like walking outhouses,” said Dr. Arrowsmith. As a result, many suffer humiliation, isolation and stigma in addition to physical pain.

If women with obstetric fistula are identified and able to travel to a hospital, fistula can be treated with surgical repair. Direct Relief supports fistula surgeons around the world, like Dr. Arrowsmith, with the medical supplies needed for the surgery. It also supports post-surgery reintegration and counseling programs to help fistula survivors thrive after their repair.

To help prevent obstetric fistula, Direct Relief equips trained midwives with Midwife Kits containing all the tools needed for a skilled provider to protect a mother during childbirth and bring a baby safely into the world. The funds raised at the Mother’s Day event enable this life-saving program to exist.

Many thanks to Rachael Stein and Kim Thomas for chairing this year’s event as well as to the rest of the Direct Relief Women for their advocacy, service, and financial giving that supports the work of Direct Relief in creating healthy families around the world.

Additional thanks goes to the event sponsors: Alamar Capital Management; Alamo Self Storage; Ambient Event Design; Classic Party Rentals; Daniel Gibbings Jewelry; Duo Cooling Systems; Firestone Walker Brewing Company; Florabundance; Kirby-Jones; Mentor Worldwide LLC; Montecito Bank & Trust; Signature Parking; LLC; The Solvang Bakery; Straight Up Cocktail Service; Stein Goodies & Gifts; and WMD Asset Management.

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