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First Baby Born in New Maternity Ward

In May we published a story highlighting the desperate need of women in poor countries for a safe place to give birth.


Now the first baby has been born at a new maternity ward in Cambodia, built by Samaritan’s Purse.

Samnang was born on May 30, 2014, in Svay Chreah commune. In Khmer language, “Samnang” means very lucky. His mother, Sophon, gave this name to her baby boy because his story is special.

Sophon was newly married, and she didn’t know that she was pregnant until a few months into her pregnancy. She had never been to a health centre for a checkup, but she received some advice about her pregnancy from women in her village. People in Sophon’s village usually give birth at home with a traditional midwife. But when her contractions started, the midwife in her village was sick.

Sophon didn’t want to go to the health centre because she didn’t know what to expect, but the village leader urged her to go because it wasn’t safe for her to give birth alone. Finally, Sophon’s husband, Mr Heng, took his wife to the health centre — and then to the nearby newly constructed maternity ward — the day before Sophon gave birth.

They didn’t know that the maternity ward wasn’t actually open yet. As she was recovering in bed, staff members were decorating around her and setting up for the official opening and dedication of the facility – set to take place at 7:30 that morning. Among the 600 people gathered for the opening were Samaritan’s Purse personnel and His Excellency Eng Hout, the secretary of the Ministry of Health.

Samnang’s birth marked a special event in the area. Samaritan’s Purse inaugurated two maternity wards for women in rural Kratie province. In the past, many women took risks during delivery. Their only option was to give birth at home. Mothers and babies died from preventable causes such as bleeding and infections. At the new centre, mothers in the area can now receive antenatal care, deliver babies safely, and get their babies vaccinated.

Other than Samnang being healthy, Sophon was also thankful for his birth certificate, a luxury he wouldn’t have had if he had been born at home. She’s excited to share her good experience with other women in the village.

Note: Thanks to an outpouring of support for our Restoring the Joy of Motherhood campaign in May/June, more maternity wards like this will be built to help rural women in Cambodia have healthy babies.