By Chipo Tsitsi Mlambo
RhoNaFlo is an organization whose main agenda is to promote and enhance safe births in Zimbabwe. We provide support pre, during and post-delivery to mothers in need, to improve and enhance their maternal health outcomes.
What inspired you to start RhoNaFlo
RhoNaFlo Foundation was established on June 29, 2018. I started the organisation in honour of my late mother who died while giving birth. I was 13 years old when she died, leaving behind 4 children, including the newborn baby boy Tanya. Sadly, my brother Tanya passed away in 2016 and the loss was too much to bear.
June 29 was both my mother’s Date of Death and my brother’s Date of Birth, I knew I had to change the narrative of this day. What better way than to dedicate it to their memory through starting an organization that would help expecting mothers. I committed my life to make sure I play my part in lowering pregnancy-related deaths in Zimbabwe due to complications during and after delivery. Thus, RhoNaFlo FOUNDATION was born.
What does RhoNaFlo mean?
RHO- RHODA was my maternal grandmother who was the main caregiver after my mother’s death, NA-, is my 6-year-old daughter Nandi who keeps me on my toes and inspires me to be a better person and FLO after my late mother FLORIDA.
Achievements thus far
RhoNaFlo has distributed more than 600 APONA birthing hampers. Within the Ndau tribe, when a woman returns home after delivery, we say “APONA”, direct translation “SHE SURVIVED”. It is a moment of celebration but the chilling irony of that statement lingers; It very well may have been a negative outcome.
Home births have contributed to the saddening statistics of maternal mortality in Zimbabwe. Hence, as a way of preventing unsafe home births, RhoNaFlo has crafted APONA hampers as an incentive designed to drive pregnant women into Clinics for safer childbirth. If they go for their antenatal visits and deliver at a Clinic, we give them the Hamper. The hamper may contain some or all of the following (baby bath, cloth nappies, hat, baby socks, a vest, fleece set, cotton wool, methylated spirit, cotton or maternity pads for mom and a Bar of laundry soap). In situations where the mother dies during delivery, we also provide baby bottles and baby formula. Some of our youngest recipients have been as young as 12 years old and they are selected based on the outcome of a needs assessment done by village health workers, nurses and social workers.
We also launched the #263birthstories Project. Maternal mental health is something not largely discussed in Zimbabwe hence why we started community-based dialogues with expecting mothers as a way of creating safe spaces for them to communicate and share their experiences. We also use this platform to bring health workers to educate pregnant mothers on some topics not commonly discussed e.g. preeclampsia, postpartum depression etc. The data collected via #263birthstories is then used for advocacy purposes to make sure that the mental health component is not overlooked as part of the care given to expecting mothers.
CONSTRUCTION OF THE FLORIDA MLAMBO MOTHER’S WAITING SHELTER
RhoNaFlo Foundation was recently granted land by the Mazowe Rural Council to construct a mother’s waiting shelter. Expectant mothers in need will be able to check in weeks before their due date. The shelter will assist in reducing the number of maternal deaths and home deliveries that are caused by a myriad of reasons e.g. lack of timely transport on the onset of labour and exceptionally long travelling distances to the health facility.
RhoNaFlo is actively fundraising for this noble cause.
How you can help us/ partner with us
Donations in cash or kind
Actively seeking therapists who can donate their services to counsel pregnant moms.
Chipo Tsitsi Mlambo +263-787-932-989
Chrostine Manatsa Gumunyu +263-772-846-297
Images from RhoNaFlo
Originally published in the 6th Ndeipi Newsletter