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'I was absolutely paralysed with shock'

Moved by stories of Rwandan women giving birth in desperate conditions led Jane Morgan, an experienced midwife, to see for herself how best to help them ...

Moved by stories of Rwandan women giving birth in desperate conditions led Jane Morgan, an experienced midwife, to see for herself how best to help them. JEANETTE SMITH reports ...

Jane had seen the pictures and heard the stories from a church lay reader, Allan Hobson MBE.
He had travelled to Rwanda in 2000 and reported how locals would peer through the broken windows of the maternity hospital and watch women giving birth in desperate conditions.

Their plight so moved Jane, then Head of Midwifery Education at Edge Hill University in Lancashire, that in 2001 she decided to go with him and a group from the church, to see for herself.

Arriving in the poor hilltop district of Shyira, she was distressed by what she found.

“There was no electricity, no running water and it was filthy,” Jane remembers. “I was absolutely paralysed with shock.”

On her return home to Merseyside she spoke to her PCC at St Luke’s, Formby and suggested they fundraise to improve the hospital conditions.

The sum of £26,000 was raised, and in 2004 the Minister for Health in Rwanda opened the hospital and upgraded it to a District Hospital.

Two years later the charity Shyira Trust was set up with the purpose of eradicating poverty through education in the district. Jane went on to create scholarships for two local nurses to train as midwives as the maternity hospital didn’t have any.

“If you had told me then that I was going to fundraise for a maternity hospital and set up scholarships for two midwives to be trained in Rwanda, I would have been amazed, but it was God-led,” she says.

Since then there has been a huge reduction in maternal deaths at the hospital. It has become so popular that President Paul Kagame has sanctioned a rebuild to the tune of £300,000.
This small trust is now embarking on its greatest challenge ever.

Jane, who is in her 50s and a trustee of the charity, has visited Shyira many times, along with her husband Pete, a software tester.

“I could see how God was working through people to raise them out of poverty and despair. I had a niggling feeling I was being called to something but did not know what it was,” she says.

“I spoke to my vicar, Harvie Nichol at St Luke’s and he suggested I explore ordained ministry. I did that expecting a door to close, but no doors did.

“The support and involvement from the clergy, bishops and others in Rwanda was a big part in my hearing God’s call to ordained ministry.”

Last summer Jane was ordained by Rt Rev Richard Blackburn in Liverpool Cathedral (see photo above), much to the joy of the congregations at St Luke’s and Holy Trinity, Southport, where she now serves as a part-time non-stipendiary curate.

She is also a pastoral support worker at Woodlands Hospice, Aintree.

“This is my ministry; it’s a privilege to be alongside people who are dying and offer support to them and their families,” says Jane.

“You could say that I have gone from birth to death!”

In 2013 Jane was awarded an MBE for her work in midwifery in the UK and Rwanda.

“When I heard I felt like a fraud! I had been a midwife since 1983 and was just doing work that God called me to do. But I was persuaded to accept it as people said it would show God’s glory in my work.”

+ If you can help Jane’s work in raising funds for the new maternity hospital please text SHYR01 and the amount you wish to donate (eg SHYR01 £5 to donate £5 to 70070 [UK only]. To find out more go to www.Shyiratrust.org.uk or follow them on Facebook.

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