The mainstream development agenda highlights how important access to health care is for poorer regions of the world. In the area of maternal health, this is expressed in a concern to drive down rates of maternal morbidity and improve access to maternal health care services. While important, the focus on metrics misses the way that relations of care are fundamental to good health. This paper takes an example of a project which is offering a different approach to health and development in the resource scarce environment of Luang Prabang Province, in northern Laos. Here, a group of antipodean midwives has partnered with provincial health authorities to offer a midwifery training programme to health workers posted in remote rural health centres. Supported by the analytical tools of diverse economies, this paper explores how this programme centres relationality, collectivity and an ethic of kindness, and discusses the advantages of being relationship based, small and informal. The paper concludes that this training programme can be understood as an example of a community economy of care: based on global networks of care instead of formal development programmes built on global networks of bureaucracy.