Woman in labour requests hospital ride from Facebook group to avoid taking taxi

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Woman in labour requests hospital ride from Facebook group to avoid taking taxi

When Paige Daniels began to go into labour she did not give it a second thought who she'd ask for a drive to the hospital.

Without a car and concerned about the safety of Winnipeg taxis, Daniels posted a message to a private Facebook group called Ikwe Safe Rides For Everyone asking for a lift to St. Boniface General Hospital.

"I felt safer taking an Ikwe ride," she said. "Because it's women helping women."

She posted the request at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday and approximately 20 minutes later a woman pulled up, ready to take her to the delivery room.

Monty, now just shy of a week old, was born later that same day — a happy, healthy baby boy.

Violet Baptiste, one of the co-ordinators of Ikwe, said Monty is the fifth baby born to moms who have received rides to the hospital.

"We definitely try to be kind to these women and help them out in emergency situations," said Baptiste, who herself is a mom, full-time university student and part-time army officer.

The organization calls them "Ikwe babies," she said with a smile.

"They're all really special. We're glad we can help them."

Daniels' distrust of taxis stems from negative experiences her friends have had — like being called names or being asked to pay up for rides up front, she said.

"I've been hearing a lot of bad stories about taxi drivers ... It can be pretty dangerous at night time, especially if you're alone," she said.

In fact the only time she feels safe taking a taxi is when her boyfriend is with her, she said.

Baptiste said those kinds of fears and feelings of distrust are common among clients of Ikwe.

"We're women driving women ... We want to help the community, we want to build that trust."

Ikwe accepts donations for rides except in emergency situations where drivers can take a complimentary gas card to cover any expenses. Since the volunteer group started up, 51 drivers have registered with Ikwe and more than 20,000 rides have been given.

"We average about 350 rides per week," said Baptiste.

While the group mainly provides rides in non-urgent situations, like lifts home after a late-night work shift, it will occasionally drive clients to the hospital for non-life-threatening emergencies like births or high fevers, she said.

"Often they are hesitant to call an ambulance even because they're afraid they might receive a ... $500 ambulance bill," said Baptiste.

She adds most drivers with Ikwe do not have a medical background and will refer women to call 911 in circumstances where a life is in danger or there is domestic abuse.

Daniels encourages other woman to consider requesting rides with Ikwe.

"They're really helpful. I would recommend them for women if they don't feel like using a cab."