Sierre Leone Project

Hi TMC clients, friends and colleagues,
I am writing to let you know about an exciting project I am involved in. I’m Sarilyn Zimmerman and some of you may know me as one of the midwives at The Midwives Clinic of East York Don Mills. I might even have been your midwife,,,attended your birth or taught you at our prenatal classes, talked to you in the waiting room or taught you at Ryerson University. I have worked globally in Tanzania and South Sudan and now I am going to Sierra Leone, Africa this November with Deborah Kaley (my friend and midwifery colleague from El Paso Texas).

We are beginning a new project, an initiative of the YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka and their sister Y, YMCA Freetown, Sierra Leone. Our first visit to Sierra Leone is mainly exploratory to consult and collaborate with the midwives, health care providers and other stake holders to learn what is wanted and needed in Sierra Leone to improve maternal and newborn care and help reduce maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality. While there we have been asked to teach two emergency skills workshop at the School of Midwifery Bo, one of three midwifery schools in Sierra Leone. As well, we will spend 3 days in a rural village working and teaching with the Driving YMCA Doctors Project whose mandate is to “improve health status of vulnerable pregnant women, lactating mothers and children less that five years in 62 villages”.

Here is what the YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka has written about this project.
“The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka has held a strong partnership with the YMCA of Sierra Leone since 2005. By working together, not only have we been able to assist their organization and the people of Sierra Leone in areas like vocational training, women & youth leadership and emergency relief, but in return the YMCA of Sierra Leone provides global education and experiences for our Canadian YMCA participants. We now have an opportunity for a new collaborative project that will help educate and provide obstetrical emergency training to midwives and birth attendants in Sierra Leone.

Sadly, Sierra Leone has one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world. According to the World Health Organization, there were 22,000 infant deaths and 3,100 maternal deaths in 2015 alone ( 1/17 pregnant women die in childbirth and/or complications of pregnancy) compared to 2,000 infant and 27 maternal deaths in Canada that same year.
We have the opportunity to work with Sarilyn Zimmerman and Deborah Kaley, two midwives who have many years of experience as skilled clinicians and educators in North America and abroad, who are willing to volunteer their time to provide training to the midwives and birth attendants in Sierra Leone. They are passionate about promoting midwifery and sharing the skills and knowledge that can prevent needless deaths.

Their goals for this project are:
* to develop a partnership and work collaboratively with Sierra Leone midwives and other stake holders to decrease maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality
* to increase the skills and competency of midwives to be skilled practitioners during pregnancy, birth and postpartum period
* to recognize, diagnose, manage and treat obstetrical emergencies
* to integrate the program within existing models
* to provide and develop a program that is ongoing and sustainable

The YMCA in Sierra Leone is excited to help facilitate this program, which we are hoping will begin with a first trip to Sierra Leone this fall.

This link highlights a similar successful project in Tanzania.”
I am very excited about this trip and the potential of this project to improve the health of mothers and newborns. If this project continues in the future and you would like to possibly work with us please drop me an email at Please keep us in your thoughts for a safe journey and a successful project.
If you feel that you would like to contribute to this project you can do so through the Go to the dropdown menu to Community Programs and then click on Global Initiatives. Click again on menu and go to Opportunities to Give, fill in amount, my name under additional information and under Designation put in Midwifery Sierra Leone Project.
I will try and keep you posted while I am away….but if not then on my return to Toronto.