1. Callister, Lynn Clark PhD, RN, FAAN

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Midwife Pilgrim ( is a nonprofit organization based in Vermont that focuses on childbearing women living in global communities in crisis. The mission is to provide midwifery care for childbearing women and their newborns in disaster-prone areas of the world. Graphic images in the media show faces of millions of refugee families displaced in the attempt to escape violence and most are women and children. Even if refugees reach refugee camps in Greece, Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon, and even if basic medical care is available, there is often a lack of reproductive healthcare services and the care of caring and compassionate skilled midwives. Connections between gender, health, and the United Nations (2015) Sustainable Development Goals have been identified in multiple global documents urging continued building on hard-won accomplishments of gender and women's health by expanding the social justice perspective to promote health, wellbeing, and dignity for all.


Midwife Pilgrim seeks to promote maternal and child wellbeing by collaborating with global organizations including the Global Health Media Project, using their videos for health education for women. Midwife Pilgrim works with Lighthouse Relief in Greece, the Swiss organization MedVint, the Midwifery Society of Nepal, and with Team Kitrinos in Greece to care for childbearing women who are refugees. Provision of psychosocial care is an important component of such care. Midwife Pilgrim sends volunteers to Turkey to help immigrant families and to train women's healthcare workers.


In Haiti, collaborators include the Olive Tree Project and Maison de Naissance that facilitate availability of midwifery support. Nurture Project International works with Midwife Pilgrim targeting vulnerable women and children who are victims of disasters, violence, exploitation, and poverty, particularly those with disabilities. In Greece, Jordan, and Lebanon, Midwife Pilgrim partners with the Syrian American Medical Society. A long-term project of Midwife Pilgrim has been establishment of the FreMo Birth and Medical Center in Nairobi, Kenya in 2010, which is seeking more volunteers to provide midwifery care and to educate local midwives and train traditional birth attendants. This birthing center has the goal to be a sustainable model of the provision skilled and respectful care for childbearing women and their families in low-resource settings. These are examples of how working with other organizations can make significant differences in the global health of women and newborns.


Outcomes evaluation of these initiatives is needed to document the difference Midwife Pilgrim volunteers and other initiatives is making. Qualitative approaches are indicated as well, as nurses assist refugee women to "tell their stories" that will help to inform women's healthcare (Halabi, 2005; Roberts, Jadalla, Jones-Oyefeso, Winslow, & Taylor, 2017). Long-term solutions should be sought in development of best practice models for refugee perinatal and neonatal care (Correa-Velez & Ryan, 2012). Nonprofit organizations such as Midwife Pilgrim are seeking to fill the gap in quality care for refugee women and newborns.


Midwife Pilgrim is recruiting volunteer midwives who are willing to assist in their humanitarian efforts. Monetary donations are also much appreciated. Items such as Solar Puff lights, birthing kits, prenatal vitamins and other medications, dopplers, neonatal resuscitation equipment, baby carriers, thermometers, and suturing equipment would be helpful. The name of the organization, Midwife Pilgrim, reflects the philosophy that a pilgrim travels to find meaning. Such a journey can be spiritual for some, an adventure for others, but both objectives are driven by the deep-seated desire to care for women and children in crisis. As perinatal nurses, there are many opportunities to serve others and make a difference.




Correa-Velez I., Ryan J. (2012). Developing a best practice model of refugee maternity care. Women and Birth, 25(1), 13-22. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2011.01.002 [Context Link]


Halabi J. O. (2005). Nursing research with refugee clients: A call for more qualitative approaches. International Nursing Review, 52(4), 270-275. doi:10.1111/j.1466-7657.2005.00440.x [Context Link]


Roberts L. R., Jadalla A., Jones-Oyefeso V., Winslow B., Taylor E. J. (2017). Researching in collectivist cultures: Reflections and recommendations. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 28(2), 137-143. doi:10.1177/1043659615623331 [Context Link]


United Nations. (2015). Sustainable development goals. New York, NY. Retrieved from [Context Link]