A midwife from rural Uganda will receive France’s National Order of Merit on Monday. France is honouring Esther Madudu for her work and as an advocate for the pan-African campaign Stand Up for African Mothers.
Esther Madudu, a mother of two children herself, often works 12-hour days in Kapuwai, Uganda, a village in the northeast of the country, delivering up to five babies a night.
“In our harsh conditions, where we lack equipment, when you want to resuscitate a baby, you don’t have a food sucker, you don’t have an oxygen cylinder because we don’t have electricity,” she says.
“You really want to resuscitate that baby, because you imagine, by the time you refer that baby to the referral hospital it will have died on the way,” she adds.
The Association for Medicine and Research in Africa (AMREF) estimates that 33-year-old Madudu has saved more than 1,000 babies and their mothers while working in rural Pallisa District.
Monday also marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Madudu herself has been a victim of domestic violence, and tells RFI that many African women have been raped at some time during their life.
“They are the source of everything—the source of life, the source of water, the source of education. Mothers in Africa, they work a lot. Twenty-four hours a day, doing everything for their family.”
The burden of responsibility also makes them vulnerable, she says. “The man who has been relaxing during the daytime, he comes, he wants it, the woman is not prepared, so, the man is drunk, he wants it […]so, a woman is raped, because she is not ready.”
Madudu is passionate about working to lower the infant mortality rate with AMREF, which she says motivates her because the work of midwives was not recognized before. “It keeps me smiling, because I know more lives of women are going to be saved then ever before.”
In addition to receiving the Order of Merit, Madudu is also in the running for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, as a representative for all African midwives.