It was an extremely exciting week for our Nairobi office last week, as we completed our baseline survey and began registering mums to take part in our baby box programme!
The baseline survey has been an enomous undertaking for the team, they have interviewed hundreds of women about their experience of prengancy, birth and postnatal care. The data from this survey will be compared to one taken at the close of the programme, so we can see what difference it makes to these families.
Doreen, our programme support assistant, has been sending me the stories of some of the women she's met, who are happy for Child.org to share them with you. During her research, she met Evelyn, Mercy and baby Brighton.
Evelyn, Mercy and Brighton
Evelyn's last pregnancy, six years ago, ended in tragedy. At eight months pregnant she had an accident at home and started bleeding. She was taken to hospital, where she says nurses were slow to respond but eventually said she was OK and left her to be looked after by medical students. However, when Evelyn came to give birth the doctors found she had lost too much blood, and water from her womb. Evelyn says that she had lost so much blood that the doctors could not locate her veins. She fell asleep in the hospital and later woke to be told that her baby had died.
Later Evelyn had to return to hospital to treat blood clotting in her legs, she has wounds in her legs that are still not completely healed. This has forced her to quit her job, which has hit her family hard.
Seven months ago, Evelyn's teenage daughter Mercy gave birth to baby Brighton, making Evelyn a grandmother. Mercy found the pregnancy difficult and motherhood stressful, with no support from the baby's father. Money is extremely tight for this young family - but Evelyn knew how important it was to support Mercy fiercely and asked her to move back in with her for a while after Brighton was born. We asked Evelyn what advice she would pass on, as a mum and grandmother. She said "If you have a problem during pregnancy, see a doctor every time. When doctors were on strike, I had to see a Traditional Birth Attendant as I could not afford a private doctor. If you have a teenage daughter who is pregnant, stand by her, or else she will lose hope."
Mercy told us that she would love to see more support given to teenage mums like herself. She added, "I would like my child to get educated and to get a good job."
What's happening now?
Now the baseline research and training is complete, we have started registering pregnant women to receive baby boxes! The team will hand out 500 boxes in Nairobi. Mums are registered when they attend the Health Centre for an antenatal check-up, and given a voucher and a baby hat.
When the mum returns to the health centre after the baby is born, they will be able to collect their baby box. This is how we investigate whether the box works as an incentive for more women to attend their postnatal appointments, in an area where attendance of postnatal care is very low.
Of course, we'll also be following up with a survey of these mums a few months later, to discover if the box and accompanying advice is proving useful for the new family.
Below are some photographs from Cherio, our Programming Officer in Kenya, of the vouchers and baby hats being handed out last week. I love how the team have packaged the hats and voucher with ribbon - to make them feel like valuable gifts for the mums who receive them! In our Child.org team meeting yesterday morning, Cherio told us that 66 of 500 mums had already been registered - a really promising sign that women are keen to take part and believe the box will be useful for them.
I think it's important to understand that all this research around the programme is expensive. Each in-depth interview with a mum takes an hour of staff time. Child.org could choose to do less research, collect less data and give boxes to more mums, or fill each box with more gifts.
The reason we don't do that is because we believe that discovering the impact of our Baby Box programme has the potential for a wider impact beyond a few hundred families. We want to arm ourselves, and others with the information we need to make informed descisions and make our work more effective in the long term. Thanks to you, we're discovering what works - and we are enormously grateful to all our donors who have the foresight to support this approach.
If you agree, please do consider donating regularly to help us do more great work like this. Our team know the names of every Core supporter and are so grateful to have you behind us.