Sajila from Korail slum in Dhaka city has her husband, mother-in-law and three children (two daughters and a son) in the family. As her husband cannot earn enough money, she has to work as a day labourer to support the family.
Our story begins when Sajila is expecting again. The poverty-ridden family could not be happy with the news of another mouth to feed; nonetheless, Sajila continues to cherish the hope for having another boy this time.
Sajila did not get the extra care or medical support required for an expecting mother. The family will starve if she does not work, so she continues with her hard work as a day labourer - the last thing a pregnant woman should go through.
However, I began my photo shoot on Sajila when she was four months pregnant. She lives in a small, suffocating and unhealthy room in the Korail slum. Like most other slums, there is no doctor or medical service here, although there are some midwives to help the pregnant women and a makeshift delivery centre. The skills and knowledge of these midwives are questionable and giving birth to a child under their supervision is unsafe, which sometimes even leads to death of either the mother or the child.
According to MDG Bangladesh Progress Report-2005 (Prepared by UN & Bangladesh jointly) the child mortality rate was 151 per 1000 in 1990, 84 per 1000 in 2000, 76 per 1000 in 2002 and stood as 69 per 1000 in 2007. The reason behind this high mortality rate in our country is on the one hand poverty and on the other hand the untrained midwives.
Due to poverty and depravation of proper medical service, Sajila had to have her child under the supervision of a local midwife. She believed that if God was by her side, she would make it safely, as all her three children had been born this way.
Sajila’s economical condition got worse during the pregnancy and she had to starve for days. Even then, she did not forget to take advice from the midwife about the precautions of pregnancy. Finally on the due date, she gives birth to her child under the guidance of that very midwife. Without any modern facilities or medicines, in an unhealthy atmosphere, she makes a normal delivery. It might sound incredible, but she walks herself to home with her son only after an hour. Two months after the delivery, finding no other means to support the family Sajila had to return to her village in Mymensingh district.