Chitambo Expectant Mums' Insaka/Waiting Shelter

by Jo Vallis in Penicuik, Midlothian, United Kingdom

Total raised £8,224

raised so far

+ est. £1256.50 Gift Aid



We are Crowdfunding for the final £10,000 out of £43,000 to build and equip a Mothers' Waiting Shelter at Chitambo Hospital, central Zambia.

by Jo Vallis in Penicuik, Midlothian, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 5th May 2023 we'd raised £4,450 with 51 supporters in 47 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

Setting the scene

Chitambo Hospital in Central Province, Zambia has been providing much needed maternity care to expectant mothers since 1908. This remote bush hospital has strong Scottish links through the Scottish missionary and explorer Dr David Livingstone. We are looking for the remaining £10 000 of a total budget of £43,000 towards building and furnishing an Insaka (shelter) for expectant mothers at the hospital.

Who we are:

Our small Scottish and Zambian registered charity, Friends of Chitambo SCIO, was founded in 2003, following a revisit to the hospital by descendants of Scottish medical missionaries who served there.   Click here to read about us on our website: Friends of Chitambo SCIO

Our overall vision is for ‘a healthier Chitambo District’ and our mission is to help Chitambo health partners to meet their needs through fundraising for key health projects which they identify.

FoCH is deeply rooted at Chitambo through our charity Chair and Founder, Dr Jo Vallis, whose father and grandfather were Church of Scotland missionary doctors there.  Jo, and her siblings, including Dr Marion Taylor, a retired New Zealand GP,  grew up at Chitambo and are passionate about helping the hospital.  

For this project, FoCH is collaborating with 3 other organisations:

  • The Whanganui Rotary Club, North Island, New Zealand, which has donated  $45,000NZ/£ 23,000 towards this project, following a  presentation to them by Dr Marion Taylor.  See their good new story: Good news from Whanganui!
  • The Swanson Family Charity, another Scottish-registered charity with deep Chitambo roots     
  • Chitambo District and partners themselves.

About Chitambo Hospital:  


Image 1: Chitambo Hospital Main Door

Chitambo is the main District Hospital for this widespread area.  It is served by 18 Rural Health Clinics, some over 100 miles from the hospital on very bad roads.  The hospital’s location in a very rural part of Zambia is providing vital help to women of childbearing age who represent around one third of the 100, 000 population in remote villages. 

The improvement of maternity care services in Zambia is a key focus of the government's health care strategy to ensure all mothers can deliver their babies safely, and so reduce maternal deaths and birth complications.

Chitambo Hospital’s single maternity ward, built in 1961, by missionary builder Ron Swanson,  father of the founders of the Swanson Family Charity, has served the hospital well.  However, it houses both pre and post natal mothers and, as demand grows,  spillover to other hospital wards  contributes to cross infection of newborn babies and mothers with open wounds.  Around 20 expectant mothers are admitted at any one time.  Some are boarded out to male and female surgical wards, which can be both inappropriate and contribute to congestion of those wards.

The need for an Insaka or Mothers Waiting Shelter (MWS): 

Despite being the main District Hospital, Chitambo Hospital does not have an Insaka or Mothers Waiting Shelter (MWS) and urgently needs one to enable expectant mothers and their helpers (bedsiders) to lodge at the hospital in the weeks before delivery, instead of making the hazardous journey to the hospital when in labour.  Although Zambia has made inroads into reducing maternal and infant mortality, 398/100,000  Zambian mothers still die during childbirth and infant mortality remains high at 45/1,000 births.  Numbers can be higher in remote rural areas like Chitambo.

Ultimately, we plan a 40 bed insaka, to accommodate all 20 waiting mothers and their accompanying helpers or ' bedsiders'.  We will do this in 2 phases:

Phase 1:

This appeal covers building a 20 bed Insaka in the first instance, to accommodate 10 waiting mothers and their 10 besides, and equipping it with beds, mattresses, lockers, padlocks, keys, chairs, mats, curtains, fire extinguishers etc.

Phase 2:

 Thereafter, we will fundraise again to build and equip a 2nd, identical 20-bed unit, so that all 20 waiting mothers and their bedsiders are accommodated.

Dreaming even bigger:

In the longer run, we hope to help Chitambo partners build processes which will encourage mothers to come and deliver in hospital through providing them with basic baby care equipment, travel costs and food.  For example,  providing all mothers with baby clothes, buckets and basins, such as the ones we gave at Christmas, for mothers who delivered their babies over the festive season (pictured below)


Image 2: Baby Layette


Image 3: A lucky Christmas baby receives baby care essentials. 

How are we funding this project?:

 £23,000 have already been raised by New Zealand partners.  FoCH is Crowdfunding for £10,000  for building and furnishing the MWS. The Swanson Family Charity is fundraising for another £10,000 for building and furnishing.  

With your help, we can ensure that expectant mothers  are well cared for at Chitambo Hospital, both pre and postnatally.  

Some of our other key achievements:

  • Oxygen pipeline for Covid relief (2021)

We successfully Crowdfunded for £7,000 for an oxygen pipeline for remote Chitambo Hospital, to take oxygen from a generator donated by Scottish Government, during the Covid-19 pandemic, to patients’ bedsides.

Click here to see our previous successful project:

Breathe Life into Chitambo

The generator is now operational, giving Chitambo Hospital sustainable oxygen supplies for all their health care needs, including Covid.  

Please see some pictures of the state-of the art shelter built by the Zambian Government, to house the Oxygen Generator, and the pipeline part-sponsored by FoCH:


Image 4: Completed Oxygen Generator Shelter, sponsored by the Zambian Government


Image 5: Oxygen Generator Shelter, side view.


Image 6: Digging in the oxygen pipeline, to take oxygen from the generator to the bedside

Click here to see this video clip of the oxygen generator in action:

Oxygen Generator in Action

  • Emergency Care communications (2015 to 2020)

We have managed 3 £60,000 rounds of Scottish Government Small Grant funding for projects to improve emergency care communications at Chitambo Hospital, including implementing an Emergency Care Resource Hub, equipped with books and tablet pcs and linking it by mobile phone and Very High Frequency (VHF) radio to ambulances and Rural Health Clinics.

Click here to seethe ambulance radio network in action:

Emergency Care Communications in Action

  • Nurse Training Scholarships (2012 to present)

We have sponsored 11 underprivileged student nurses through 3-year Registered General Nurse training.  Our latest student, Ms Alice Lyuuba (pictured) qualified on International Women's Day.  She says: "Thank you very much, I'm really grateful for everything."


Image 7:  Alice Lyuuba, Registered General Nurse

What’s in it for you?

By helping us, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are saving lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable women and children.

We, on our part,  pledge to keep you informed of project progress and, on its completion, provide you with an informative report complete with pictures of the building, people and some stories of how your contribution has changed lives. 

We also have a few unique rewards, available on a first come, first served basis: 

  • The first 6 to pledge £20  will receive a jar of Wainright  Zambian Forest Honey, donated by Tropical Forest Products: Tropical  Forest Products
  • The  first 6 to pledge £50 will receive a  copy of ‘Livingstone’s Hospital: the Story of Chitambo’  by Dr Marion Taylor        
  •   The  first 2 to pledge £75 or more will receive Tickets for 2 to the  David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, Scotland:  David     Livingstone Birthplace Museum
  • The  first 6 to pledge £100 will receive a choice of beautiful Zambian crafts, posted to you.

Supporters abroad, who fall into these categories but are unable to access these particular rewards, will be offered alternatives.

Please help us reach or exceed our £10,000 target.  You’ll be saving lives of some of the world's most vulnerable women and children. 

NB. If you wish to claim a particular reward, please select that option on this platform, when making your pledge.  The rewards are on a  first come, first served basis.


This project offered rewards

£100 or more

Choice of Zambian crafts

Choice of beautiful Zambian crafts imported from Zambia

£20 or more

£20 Reward Jar of Wainright Zambian Forest Honey

Jar of Wainright Zambian Tropical Forest Honey

£50 or more

Book: Livingstone's Hospital,the Story of Chitambo

History of Chitambo Hospital by Dr Marion Taylor, retired New Zealand GP

£75 or more

Tickets for 2: David Livingstone Birthplace Museum

Tickets for 2 to the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre, Scotland.

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