I'm writing this to highlight some of the opportunities we have been presented with, and which we all can impact massively.
To start with, many of you reading this will have directly supported our first Team Mum campaign, which funded the brilliant Pregnant Women's Groups through UK Aid. The project is working to support 5700 women in Meru County in Kenya with critical information around keeping themselves and their babies safe during pregnancy and birth.
The arrival of Covid changed everything.
In March 2020, the lockdown in Kenya meant we had to stop our groups from meeting face to face. To ensure we were able to continue supporting pregnant women with lifesaving information about pregnancy, birth, and covid, we initiated a partnership with Mama Tips, a platform that sends pregnant women SMS messages throughout their pregnancy.
We’ve recently been speaking to women about their experiences of receiving the messages and the feedback is (unusually) exclusively positive:
Messages of Covid helped me because I was scared of going to the clinic while pregnant, I had anxiety but I went and saw everything was alright and I stopped fearing” Judith
You feel like you are talking to someone even if you don't know them, you feel like you are not alone. The messages mentioned that one might swell in the hands and legs, that happened to me and I went to the clinic to check if there were any problems. My niece who is pregnant comes to read them and I also share them with a friend” Mary, 23
I was taught how I am supposed to eat, to eat a balanced diet, I learnt about what I am experiencing while pregnant. I started eating a balanced diet” Joyivy, 28
Assessing the impact of the pandemic on pregnancy.
We’re delighted that this partnership with Mama Tips has led to us engaging with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Innovations for Poverty Action on one of the largest global studies assessing the impact of covid on pregnant women and their experiences of giving birth during a pandemic. The analyses are currently being done and we’ll be sharing some of the results soon.
Until then, what we’ve learned so far is that women and children have been affected by COVID in many detrimental ways, including economically, socially, and in terms of access to healthcare. From one of the samples of women, the study learned that:
- Among those women who were employed at the start of COVID, 63% reported job loss
- 22% reported having avoided or delayed care for their newborn during COVID
- At least 25% reported ever having to present late to or miss immunizations for their newborn baby
And then we have our new Team Mum initiative.
Thanks to our brilliant supporters - which may well include you - we have run an amazingly successful campaign raising over £40,000, which is still going until 31st January.
This is going to enable us to run a new iteration of our Baby Box project, in a new location in Kenya: Kwale County. Kwale has seen a devastating increase in the numbers of girls becoming pregnant while schools were closed because of COVID. We’ll be working with many of these new mums to ensure they can stay safe during pregnancy and feel confident in seeking care from trained professionals during pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
And finally, Ride Africa.
As many of you know we had to postpone last year's rides. It would have been impossible - and dangerous - in the midst of a global pandemic. Financially this has been devastating... but we did survive, and this year it's shaping up to be bigger and better than ever.
We have two dates, one has sold out and the other one is filling up! The route is the best one yet (through three national parks and ending at the glorious Kenyan coast) and by November, I think it’s safe to say that all the riders are going to be in need of a great party!
There are a few spaces left so if you want to know more, visit rideafrica.org.
2021 is full of hope and optimism. For Child.org in particular, the opportunities ahead are better than ever - our impact is growing, our projects are reaching more women and children, and our staff in Kenya and the UK are working more closely together than ever before. We’re leaner and more agile than we’ve been in a long time and we’re going places in 2021. Come and join us for the ride.