May your eyes be open and your hearts be broken.

While working on an international development article as a student, author Caitlin Arlene was shocked to discover the desperate statistics surrounding global maternal health. Every day, approximately 830 women die due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth. The same day will bear nearly 6,700 neonatal deaths – infants who do not make it past their first month.

In Mama: True Stories of Maternal Health in Malawi, Caitlin Arlene takes you alongside her journey to uncover the anonymity of the women and children behind these critical numbers. As an eye-opening compilation of true stories that simultaneously breaks and mends your heart, Mama is a compassionate narrative that highlights the plight of women, children, families, and healthcare practitioners in the center of the maternal health crisis. Highlighting the mountains to be climbed and the peaks that have been conquered, these stories explode with a sense of urgency and hope.


It’s the first word that most children learn.

I was surprised to discover that the word is nearly the same in every language.  A quick Google search will bring up lists of translations: ‘Mom’, ‘Mama’, ‘Meme’, ‘Maman’ or ‘Mami’.  With slight variations, the word for Mother can be repeated across the globe and be understood by almost anyone.

This book shares stories from mothers that you may have never considered before. Mama: True Stories of Maternal Health in Malawi takes you to the doorstep of Bimbi Health Facility, specializing in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health in Malawi, Africa. Each story offers a compassionate glimpse into the lives of mothers, children, midwives, and other health care providers as they tackle the challenging issue of poor maternal care. While uncovering the difficult road ahead, Mama is careful to highlight hope in the darkness as their culture gradually adopts new health programs.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mama: True stories of Maternal Health in Malawi is a remarkable book. Caitlin Arlene has tapped into the soul of maternal-child care in countries where the health inequities and the geo-political-social environments cause more harm than good. This is a ‘must read’. Brilliant, poignant and thoughtful, I highly recommend it.”

Dr Sarita Verma, Dean, President and CEO of Northern Ontario School of Medicine

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Eye-opening stories told with true passion.”

Kailey Esser, Registered Midwife, College of Midwives of Ontario

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“It’s inadequate to say the maternal health crisis in Malawi is heartbreaking. In Mama, Caitlin employs the wisdom and lived experience of mothers, mothers-to-be, and healthcare agents to shed light on the insufficient education and awareness offered to women and girls across the nation. A task like this-retelling the delicate stories of Malawians who’ve been let down by the healthcare system time after time-is daunting. But Caitlin, a sensitive and charismatic investigator on this issue, conveys an unmissable sense of compassion through her writing. She relays Malawians’ testimonies with dignity and care, while prompting the reader to wonder: what can I do?

Hard facts and statistics, cushioned by Caitlin’s thoughtful narrative, evoke a feeling of unrest in the reader. Why is it acceptable for women to give birth on the side of the road, in the dead of night? Why is the high maternal and infant mortality rate so widely tolerated? Mama leaves the audience shaking from the injustices too many women and their babies encounter daily. Read Mama and you’ll open the door to a nation and its people, whose passionate resilience in curing the maternal health epidemic overrides the dark reality that enfolds Malawi every day.”

Sydney Hildebrandt, Journalist, TimesWPG

By Caitlin Arlene

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