‘One of the most difficult places on Earth to give birth’

TWO women are embarking upon a project to explore women’s experiences of pregnancy and childbirth in one of the most difficult environments on Earth, Afghanistan.

Film-maker Janey Moffatt and peace activist Maya Evans, both from the Hastings area, aim to make a feature-length documentary following a number of Afghan women through their pregnancies.

The purpose of the project, Afghanistan-A Difficult Birth, is to raise awareness of what life is like for ordinary women, and to empower these women by giving them a voice and a chance to share their stories with the world.

Janey, 38, a mother-of-two, said: “I had a difficult time giving birth. I cannot explain the level of pain and fear I was in. I found myself thinking - how did women cope who were at home without any support.”

She met Maya, 33, who has twice been to the war-torn country, after she attended a talk given by the peace activist. And the idea for the project was born shortly afterwards.

Maya said: “Women are at the bottom of the pile in Afghanistan. They are still not considered human.

“We are not hearing the voice of Afghans generally, let alone the voice of a woman in the home.”

The two will initially travel to Kabul in December, where they will be staying with Afghan peace volunteers, to meet with contacts and conduct research and interviews. This will result in a short film, which they will use to raise money for the feature-length piece.

They have decided to crowdfund the initial film, and Janey and Maya are appealing for the community to get behind them.

Maya added: “This will be the first documentary made by women, about women in Afghanistan, solely focusing on pregnant women.

“One in 11 women in Afghanistan die in childbirth. It’s one of the most dangerous places on Earth to give birth.

“For the women giving birth in 2014, what are their hopes and fears for the future?”

It is no coincidence that the film coincides with the year of the planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The birth of a new generation will be placed in the context of the rebirth of the country.

Despite the grim statistics (87 per cent of women deliver their babies with no help), it is not intended to be an angry film but presenting a powerful journey, highlighting the miracle of birth.

Maya said: “I’m looking forward to meeting amazing women.

“Women who may have been married off at 14, had 12 children, gone through all sorts, but they are still very wise and loving.”

Janey added: “There are other ways of helping aside from donating money.

“We are looking for technical equipment including hard drives, memory cards, and a camera, along with medical supplies.”

To find out more about the project or to make a donation visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/afghanistan-a-difficult-birth.

Alternatively donations can be made in person at the Kave Gallery, 8 Kings Road, St Leonards, or contact Janey Moffatt at janey@toasterproductions.co.uk or on 07535 279444.