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January 2013 CC Header 

Comments or suggestions about our newsletter?  Contact Editor, Helen Akinc.   

Message from the President    PresidentMessage

A healthy tree bears good fruit...Matthew 7:17

Happy 2013! In the past 10 years, Kybele has executed 49 training missions with the help of 415 volunteer healthcare providers. We've coordinated 17 in-country CME meetings and have sponsored 18 physicians or nurses from host countries to visit US or Canadian hospitals. This has resulted in sustained improvements in obstetric and neonatal healthcare in several countries. Please see our most recent publication, centered on our work in the Rep. of Georgia. In addition, please read about our new programs in Serbia and Vietnam that will roll out in 2013.


FCDS student Jozy Unal surrounded by children from
the Odoi Atsem school in Ghana. 
(School and playground in background.)

As I reflect on this, I'm further amazed by other significant activities that have grown from Kybele's deeply rooted foundation. For example, an adoption program was created in Ghana by Kybele board member, Robin Sizemore, of Hopscotch Adoptions. A nurse anesthesia training school was successfully established. Most recently, over Thanksgiving break, I took 5 local school children (aged 10-15) to Ghana to help three schools. The project linked five NC based organizations, Kybele, Cash Lovell Stables and Riding Academy, Forsyth Country Day School, Hopscotch Adoptions, and SOS Global Express.  

Kybele - CLS service project with former First Lady of Ghana
Video:  Kybele and CLS meets with former First Lady of Ghana,
Dr. Ernestina Naadu Mills. 

I would like to publicly thank the Ghana Health Service for all the support they provided in completing the project. We put running water, a ton of school supplies and new desks in one school, built a 15-bay computer lab in  another, and established a health room in the third. Within one week, one school was literally covered in glitter and we were on national television with the former First Lady of Ghana, Dr. Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills.  Believe me, this was a life changing week! 

Members of the Kybele Ghana Team and parents and students of the service project gather in the office of the Ghana Health Service to meet with
GHS director-general, Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira and Deputy Director of Administration, Yaw Brobbey.


At the core of it were children helping children. It was powerful. Please read an excerpt, by Parker Lovell to learn more. My little team learned first-hand how to make a significant difference to others in the world. Now they want to raise support to build a desperately needed school in Ghana. Be careful what you wish for!


It is my hope that all these seeds will continue to sprout and grow. A healthy non-profit organization creates successful programs that

will benefit many. Thank you for your steadfast support.

Medge Owen Sig  

Medge Owen, President

Kybele, Inc.  





SERBIA:  A Closer Look    Serbia       

By Helen Akinc with excerpts from the trip report by: Ivan Velickovic, MD (Obstetric Anesthesiologist from SUNY Downstate), Curtis Baysinger, MD (Obstetric Anesthesiologist from Vanderbilt University), Melvin Seid, MD (Lyndhurst OBGYN/Forsyth Medical Center) and Agnes Perenyi, MD (Neonatologist from SUNY Downstate)
L to R:  Host Dr. Borislava Pujic, Dr. Curtis Baysinger,
Dr. Ivan Velickovic, Dr. Agnes Perenyi, and Dr. Melvin Seid


As was reported in the Fall 2012 Newsletter, the Serbia trip was tremendously successful. This article provides more information about those accomplishments and where the visit took place


Careful planning and preparation both by the participants and also by the hosts were significant elements that enabled the time spent to be used effectively and wisely and also allowed as many people as possible to benefit from the expertise of the trip participants. Quoting from the trip report,


We worked at one site, the maternity - women's hospital as part of the Klinicki Centrar health care system in Novi Sad. Prior to arrival, Dr Velickovic and our host Dr Borislava Pujic, engaged in extensive pre-trip planning that made the on-site time very productive. Arrangements were made with BBraun to supply epidural and continuous spinal-epidural kits that could be used for instruction purposes, and that company provided sales personnel support for the equipment that they lent/gave. We participated in a 4- 5 hour conference on the Sunday preceding the week's work in the hospital which the host and Dr Velickovic arranged at which all of the team and host spoke and was attended by anesthesia, obstetrical, and neonatal providers from Vojvodina, the main area of some 2 million persons for which the facility in Novi Sad acts as a referral center. Arrangements for payment for the conference were arranged pre-trip by Dr Pujic with BBraun and 2 other companies to provide financial support for our stay and for the conference. We spent 5 full days working the in the hospital following the conference. Both the main news television stations from Belgrade (Prva Srpska Televizija) and Novi Sad interviewed team members during the course of our visit for news information pieces. Response to our visit was enthusiastic by most of the staff as virtually every member of the anesthesia staff remained well past the normal work day by several hours during the entire time we were there. In addition, personnel from surrounding hospitals came to observe and participated in hands on instruction/care.  READ MORE.
Dr. Seid assisting during cesarean section.
Dr. Velickovic providing hands on instruction to trainees.

What's In A Name? - Baby Naming Customs     BabyName

Article by Helen Akinc

In different parts of the world, how a baby is named follows a variety of traditions. In parts of Africa, babies may be named according to when they were born (day of the week) or where they were born (on a journey or Ghana or Nigeria). In many cases parents name their babies, or give them their first name and the last name is the family surname. Grandparents may have the honor of naming their grandchildren in some cultures.


The namakaran ceremony is a Hindu tradition done usually on the twelfth day of a baby's life, if at all possible. It involves a gathering of the parents, family members and close friends and the baby's name is whispered into the infant's ear in a special ceremony. The parents and baby are showered with blessings and gifts.


Kevin Barry, in his blog, Irinajoyinbo, describes the Yoruban baby-naming ceremony, Isomoloruko, of his Nigerian host family in which he participated. It took place a few days after the baby was born and involved close family and friends gathering together. He described how the baby was passed around, with people offering blessings and prayers. Grandparents as well as others offered suggestions of names as well, and he remarked that it is common for as many as ten names to be suggested. The name that the parents use most often becomes the one that remains, although an elder may continue to use the name he or she gave to the child. Money is also given and a feast is part of the ceremony. Names have meanings and may describe the circumstances of the birth or a wish for particular blessings or strength or wealth.  READ MORE.

Vietnam - Moving Forward in 2013          Vietnam2

Summary by Marge Sedensky, MD

On November 5th-9th Drs. Dennis Shay (Mary Birch Hosp, San Diego, CA) and Margaret Sedensky (University of Washington, Seattle, WA) performed a site visit in the city of Can Tho, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. They traveled with a seasoned group of health care workers organized by Dr. Rob Gertler, an anesthesiologist in Seattle. Accompanied by a native speaker, Yen Flanagin, now living in Seattle, the two met with numerous heads of hospitals, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists, as well as midwives and nurses. The spectrum of possible maternal care in the city is quite striking. In busy provincial hospitals laboring women are laboring in very crowded conditions, often not occupying a bed until the baby is ready to be delivered. In a new and beautiful private hospital, facilities were equal to that of any US hospital. Cesarean section rates are quite high, up to 70% in some hospitals, driven in part by the desire of women to avoid a painful labor.


Overall, the reception and eagerness for a visit by a Kybele team was exceptional. Leaders from both the private and public hospitals, as well as the nursing college, have invited a Kybele team to come to Can Tho for extended bedside teaching. Plans are now underway to put together a team that will be able to work with the smart and enthusiastic local health care providers in Can Tho.

Kybele will return to Vietnam in 2013 with a full team. 

Kybele Thanks You!!!    LanguageThankYou  

There are many ways to say THANK YOU, and Kybele wants to say them all to you. 


Thank you to everyone who donated time, committed to be a monthly donor, or contributed money, expertise, hard work, ideas, networking assistance, medical supplies and equipment in 2012...we appreciate everything! Thanks to each and every person who has been involved with Kybele! You have been part of a labor of love that has already saved thousands of lives and has made childbirth safer and easier around the globe. Our work is impossible without the contributions and unselfish dedication of many, many people. Know that each and every one of your gifts is deeply appreciated.


The Dynamo Behind the Scenes of Kybele  Sebnem  

Sebnem Ucer and Medge Owen
Many of you know Sebnem Ucer (pronounced "Sheb-nehm OO(as in cool) chair") as she has been involved with Kybele from nearly the beginning. She was on the board as treasurer for many years and, in 2012, transitioned to a role that is integral to Kybele's work. She is now in the position of accounts manager, which is a fancy way of saying that she handles almost all of the detail work, including finances, accounting, tax issues, and keeping our information and practically everything else organized. It is really impossible to articulate everything that Sebnem does, because she is such a perfectionist that if she sees something that needs to be organized or researched or handled, she does it.


She comes to this position with a wealth of professional management experience as well as teaching experience. Since Kybele is an intercultural organization, it is fitting and advantageous that our staff be intercultural. Originally from Turkey, her unique background and work experience give her a perspective that is fresh and very helpful. Her intensity is reflected in her true dedication and perseverance to Kybele. Thanks, Sebnem, for being such a key part of Kybele!!

Kybele on the Move
MAY 18 - JUNE 1, 2013
Returning participants may contact  Medge Owen
Yemi Olufolabi to participate.


OCTOBER 5 - 19, 2013
Returning participants may contact Simon Millar
or Gordon Yuill to participate.


Returning participants may contact Ivan Velickovic
or Curtis Baysinger to participate. 


Returning participants may contact Marge Sedensky
or Dennis Shay to participate.

Vietnamese Newborns
Photo courtesy of Dr. Dennis Shay
If you have any questions about upcoming programs,
you may contact Program Coordinator, Lynn Snyder.

Kudos and News Bits     Kudos 

  • The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has again awarded Kybele a $20,000 grant to support our medical education programs in 2013.  We sincerely appreciate the continued support of IASP.
  • Kybele received a framed citation from the FAYEF International School in Ghana where our team members helped to put a computer lab.  The following is the text on the citation: Kybele Citation
    • Many organizations walk the sands of the earth, but few leave lasting footprints.  For your selfless dedication, contribution and supporting us with logistics to establish our new computer classroom, we, Rescue Aid Mission/FAYEF International School, wish to honor you with this token.  Many words may not be enough to cover your many sacrifices to FAYEF International School.  We will forever remember this great seed you have sowed in the lives of these future leaders.  When all others fail, we know we can count on you.  A dependable organization, we are forever grateful.  Especially now when we are counting our blessings, we cannot help but count you as one of them.  FAYEF International School truly appreciates you.  We love you.
  • Dr. Medge Owen recently received the Global Women's Health Award from the Maya Angelou Center for Women's Health and Wellness along with 2 other North Carolina women. 
  • Kybele recently received $8,000 from the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) for our programs in Armenia and Ghana.  We sincerely appreciate the continued support of WFSA. 
  • Kybele recently received $6,000 from the Maya Angelou Center for Women's Health and Wellness to support nursing travel scholarships in 2013.  
  • Dr. Davida Grossman recently held an at-home holiday fundraiser for Kybele.  This is the 2nd year in a row she's opened her home to friends and spread the word of Kybele.  Many thanks to Davida for the $650 she raised.  Congrats.       
  • If you would like to nominate a person or person(s) for the Board of Directors or would like more information about Board or Committee Membership, please contact a board or staff member.       

We Thank The Following for Their Support    

SOAP Logo   WFSA Logo
Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology  |  The Obstetric Anaesthetists' Association     
The International Association for the Study of Pain  |  The Lacy Foundation  |  World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists

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 Overview of Our Work 

 Kybele merchandise is on display at various events in the Winston-Salem, NC area.  Contact us if you are interested in purchasing merchandise or have an event that is appropriate for us to display/sell our items.  


Board of Directors


Medge Owen, MD

President & Founder

Helen Akinc  

VP Strategy & Newsletter Editor  

Margaret Sedensky, MD 

VP Program Development

Frank James, MD 


Holly Muir, MD


Karen Bartoletti 

Ronald George, MD 

Thomas Ivester, MD

Shannon Koontz 

Virgil Manica, MD

Yemi Olufolabi, MD

Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD  

Michael Rieker, CRNA  

Robin Sizemore

Leigh Stanfield 


Kybele, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 humanitarian organization dedicated to improving childbirth safety worldwide through educational partnerships. The role of Kybele is to bring professional medical teams into host countries, to work alongside doctors and nurses in their home hospitals, to improve healthcare standards. Kybele volunteers provide hands-on training in medical techniques during the actual care of patients in labor wards and in operating rooms. Kybele volunteers model teamwork and compassion in real life and death situations, sharing knowledge when it matters the most.
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