Giving mothers an intimate experience through their pregnancy, during labour and after the birth of their child, are Karen Clark’s passion.
Clark, 45, is a professional midwife who offers her services to rural women at no cost through her organisation BusFare Babies.
of BusFare Babies, she initially helped deliver children from a garage, but now offers inhouse services in the community of Hamburg.
The mother of two fell in love with midwifery while training in Cape Town townships in 1994, before going on to study advanced midwifery in Scotland in 2000.
She started the BusFare Babies initiative with Nomvula Gxaki, who she is currently training.
Gxaki said at first they had charged a fee of R150 for antenatal classes in the community, which included the birth procedure and postnatal classes, but were forced to stop the services after only a year.
“We discovered that many people could not afford the fee and often stayed away and suffered in silence, than to come to us, and this did not sit well with us,” she said.
Clark said she had resorted to buying pads and nappies she handed over to the new mothers, from her own pocket.
“We are a small organisation and we offer individualised treatment, where we ensure the mother feels nurtured, where there is no shouting and the environment is friendly, soft and gentle.
“We also offer six weeks’ aftercare, which is also very vital, before we hand the patients over to clinics and hospitals,” she added.
“We were working out of a garage for about 10 years until the end of last year due to issues around the lease, but we currently don’t have a centre so we are working out of our boot, going to visit patients,” she added. Clark said the institution relied on donations.
“Our only stable source of income comes from the Wild Women on the Run, who run for charity every year,” Clark said.
“We are one of two beneficiaries who share the money they raise through their work, but we sometimes also get donations from random people, who hear of the work we do by word of mouth and they donate clothes or formula for the new babies, which makes our work so much easier.
Zoliswa Funda, 35, who is a mother of 10, commended Clark for the work she was doing in her community. “Only my first child was delivered in hospital.
“Seven were delivered by my mother, a traditional midwife. I delivered another, but Karen delivered my three-day-old son.
“This one came late because labour usually lasts me two hours and I was getting scared, only to find that he was a breach because his behind came out first.”
The mother of six boys and four girls said there was something special about giving birth from home.
Expectant mother Nomphelo Dumke, 40, said she had heard about Clark after losing a child and having a caesarian with her second.
“It’s a lot better with her, she is patient, gives you all of her attention which allows you to relax and be able to trust her because she is very thorough in what she does.”
Donations can be made to BusFare Babies at Hand Made Coffees at the entrance of Spargs Superstore in Beacon Bay and the Coffee Shop in Grahamstown.