Frequently Asked Questions
What is Global Midwife Response? Global Midwife Response is a US based non profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to responding to communities in crisis and disaster situations with skilled and compassionate midwifery care. We are a secular organization serving women of all races and faiths as well as accepting all midwives regardless of their faith. Our focus is healthcare: Care in Crisis.
Can you give an example of the work you are doing? Our first major project was doing a needs assessment and assistance to the Midwifery Society of Nepal after the earthquake in 2015. Since November 2015 we have been working in Greece and Turkey ensuring women fleeing their home lands due to war receive the care they need and we are beginning to work with refugees in Lebanon as well. More information about our current and past projects can be found on our Projects pages, just scroll down to see what we have accomplished. You can also journey with individual midwives as they describe their experiences on our Follow page.
What do Global Midwife Responders do? Responders often take on many different roles, some they were not expecting, which is typical of healthcare in low resource areas. In Nepal the need is for educators and mentors. For the Refugee Crisis, Pilgrim’s work ranges from support/education to clinical roles. It is not about “catching babies,” in fact, that is the least of the work that we do. It is teaching a woman how to breastfeed her baby effectively, treating a woman of sexual violence for STIs, offering supportive postnatal care, educating about contraception options and providing them when available, etc. While there are times you will be assisting at a birth, most of the time you will be needed for the chronic and life depleting issues that make general health difficult. We have had midwives develop a project for hygiene and sanitation by arranging for a Port A Potty in a busy landing point for refugees making the harrowing journey from Turkey. One of our midwives funded and provided water filters and education to over 5000 people when she realized that without safe drinking water, health will never be an option. Midwives have taught other providers at NGOs how to ensure safe feeding practices are followed and how best to support women to ensure their babies are getting the food they need.
Does it cost to be a Global Midwife Responer? All programs are self funded. We raise funds to help with expenses and to ensure midwives have the equipment, supplies, and medications they need to do their work properly. It is our dream to one day ensure all midwives who want to serve are not deterred by financial constraints, but as a new organization we are not at that level. For midwives that have a need, stipends are offered to help cover expenses. We do not charge for our services (assistance, support, resources).
Midwives wanting to deploy should budget for transportation (airfare and in country transport), food, accommodations, and supplies. This amount will vary based on where you are working and what the needs are for the population you are serving.
If you aren’t registered in other countries, how are you able to do your work? We work with established NGOs in the areas we serve in order to ensure reproductive health is a focus of the work they are doing. We do not just go to an area and set up a clinic – we assess the needs, reach out to community leaders and NGOs on the ground, and offer our assistance. In many cases reproductive health is not even considered until we explain why it is so important. In other cases, NGOs have reached out to us asking for assistance after a disaster strikes. In this way we are able to bypass much of the red tape in setting up an in country organization saving time and money. We are like a clearinghouse – helping midwives find ways to serve and NGOs to find midwives to do the vital work. After registering with us you will need to register with the NGO directly to fulfill their legal requirements. While we cannot guarantee a placement as midwifery requests vary depending on the situation, we will assist you in finding the NGOs that fit your skills and desires as well as offer our recommendation to those we have a relationship with for our current projects.
Why then would I sign onto Global Midwife Response? Couldn’t I just register with that NGO directly? Absolutely. You actually don't have to register with us. We exist to help midwives find places to serve, help them prepare, offer assistance (financial and resources) when needed, and make initial contacts with NGOs if they need that. Many midwives have no idea where to go or what to do and we help with that. We also have a general idea of the needs in various areas so try to fill those demands with our volunteers. We also have resources that will help educate you and within the year hope to have a whole education program offering CEUs to ensure all midwives are able to serve in a wide variety of situations. In some of our programs we are often the only primary care provider as well serving the population.
We have a strict registry to ensure the midwives we do recommend to an NGO is skilled and has the qualifications we feel are necessary. For some NGOs, we are the only organization they trust to take on midwives with their programs. Any applications they get directly gets passed onto us first to ensure the midwives are qualified and would be a good fit. For others, our recommendation goes a long way in choosing between volunteers.
So what are the advantages of registering with you? We offer education, resources, and ongoing support which is helpful especially for those just starting out doing this type of work. In some cases, we offer stipends to help with financial barriers. Some NGOs have dedicated their midwifery scheduling to us to ensure the midwives that serve with them are skilled and vetted.
Another benefit to registering with us is the ability to be deployed in disaster situations - the hurricane recently in Haiti is a prime example. Without the support and resources of those on the ground, just showing up in Haiti on your own to help would be very impractical as well as illegal due to local laws. We received requests from birth centers in hard hit areas for midwives to assist and therefor were able to assist those midwives called to serve during that disaster.
How do I join your registry? Please read the Welcome Letter on the website. If you feel you are still interested, please click the link to our Volunteer Intake Form and fill it out. Have your documents ready to upload. Our Volunteer Coordinator will get in touch with you about what else is needed or what the next step is.
You require an active license to volunteer but I live in a state without a license. Can I still register with you? Absolutely. Not all states recognize midwifery and we understand that the politics surrounding midwifery should not hinder your ability to serve. Some midwives are no longer active due to retirement and we respect that as well. We take on midwives without licensure on a case by case basis so please contact us if you are a practicing midwife but are not licensed.
Why do I have to do the MISP and Review Safe Feeding Guidelines order to be on your registry? The Minimum Initial Service Package for Reproductive Health (MISP) is information that we feel all volunteers should be aware of. It is an established program that specifies the minimal services for a safe and healthy environment. While it is often difficult to fulfill these goals, having the knowledge of what is expected and ideal will help to guide you in your projects and service. The Safe Feeding Guidelines resources will assist you in this work as you will undoubtedly come across situations in which infant feeding options are difficult. It is vital to have a knowledge of this before you are in a situation where this information is necessary to ensure the health of the infants you care for. We of course advocate for breastfeeding as that is the healthiest for moms and babies, but for women who are not breastfeeding or for special circumstances, it is important you understand how best to treat these infants.
What about the courses on Gender Based Violence and Ethical Considerations?
The UNFPA Managing Gender Based Violence program is critical to help understand some of the situations you may encounter and how to best support those who are victims. Sadly, GBV is a common occurrence in not only refugee situations but in disaster situations as well. Ethical Considerations are especially important for health care workers as you think about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how to best serve those you will be working with.
What are your needs? We need volunteers especially those willing to serve more than 3 weeks but we do requests for midwives for short term stints as well. We need funds – to pay for much needed supplies and medications, to help midwives with transportation, to allow midwives to do the work they are so eager to do. It is our hope to one day be able to cover all expenses for midwives but until that time we are depending on them to raise their own funds. In times of disaster when we are asked to deploy quickly, having a reserve of funds will ensure midwifery services are not delayed. Our overhead is very low and entirely run by volunteers, but in order to enlarge our scope we will need to expand which will also require funds. By doing this, we will be able to reach more women and families.
Tell us about future work. In the near future we hope to have a fully developed education program for midwives to prepare themselves for low resource work. We are currently offering CEUs for both CNMs and CPMs in Helping Babies Survive and Helping Mothers Survive as we feel that information is critical to ensure sustainable communities. We will be focusing as well on expanding to other topics of interest that we find come up in the field. We also hope to expand our reach with refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) into Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. We never know when the next disaster will hit and want to expand our registry to have midwives ready to deploy quickly. We also have plans to present topics at various conferences and there is hope for a small video about the work we are doing. Stay tuned!
Donations made by check should be made payable to "Global Midwife Response" and sent to:
600 Elm Street, Montpelier, VT 05602
All donations are 100% tax-deductible as provided by law of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.