In a tiny remote village in Africa a young woman known as Christina is studying to become a midwife.
She grew up in a small village called Sra, where creature comforts were basic and career prospects limited.
In her world, childbirth is a common cause of death for the mothers and newborn babies often don’t survive.
But that is about to change. In just over a year she will be qualified to help pregnant women in childbirth and
provide prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and their babies at the community health clinic in Sra, Ghana.
This role in her home town will save countless lives and it has been made possible because of Maitland’s love of coffee.
Barista Annabella Rossini started a retro coffee cart in 2013 to raise $18,000 to pay for Christina’s training.
A percentage of every cup of coffee sold from her pop-up business goes to the cause and she dreams of being able to train another midwife to help more women and babies in need.
“I’m still raising money to get Christina through the rest of the three-year course and when she finishes I’ll start raising money for another midwife to be trained,” Ms Rossini said.
Christina is training at a midwifery college nearby in a regional city. She will complete practical experience as part of the course and be a qualified midwife when she graduates.
“Maternal death rates in remote villages are too high. It is an hour by car to the nearest hospital and the women can’t get there, so they don’t get the prenatal and postnatal care they need,” Ms Rossini said.
“These women are not malnourished and it’s not a war torn part of the world … It’s a peaceful village and they simply don’t have access to medical assistance.”
Ms Rossini’s work builds on a four-year project International Needs Australia ran in the village, which saw a community health centre built, nurses trained and a community healthcare program rolled out.
“The clinic is within walking distance from eight other small villages, so it is going to service a large area and benefit a lot of communities,” Ms Rossini said.
International Needs Australia had the clinic built with moneys from the Australian government, the work of its fundraising volunteers and private donations.
It was part of a health program rolled out there between 2009 and 2013 that saw nurses from the clinic go out into the community and perform antenatal care, vaccinations and make people aware about reproductive health.
INA also provided a set of criteria to help the Sra community choose a young woman to undertake the midwifery degree and has a program manager in the area who monitors her progress.
“It’s had a big impact in terms of community health, and maternal and child health,” a spokeswoman said.
“The nurses are local people and they were provided by the Ghana health service.
“Making sure the government is on board and has the means and way to ensure the clinic continues was a key factor in the decision to build the clinic, we didn’t want it to sit there unused.”
The spokeswoman said INA could not make a difference without volunteers like Ms Rossini who worked hard to raise money.
To support the cause grab a coffee from the Bella Rossini coffee cart in the laneway near 92 Melbourne Street, East Maitland.