Marti's 2021 highlights.
Over the last year we’ve seen our team grow in both the UK and Kenya as we’ve welcomed both new and familiar faces; we had a busy but brilliant summer as Charity Concierge returned to festival fields to raise vital income towards our work; and in Kenya the team have gone above and beyond as we ramp up our work across our three main maternal health projects.
I’m incredibly proud of our team and the resilience we have shown through various Covid setbacks. We’re not just reaching our targets - we are exceeding them. We’re growing our programme profile to test more initiatives that will keep mums and babies safe and healthy, we’re working in new regions, with new health authorities, and we’re cementing our reputation as a partner that ‘does what it takes’ to spark progress in global child health.
We're well into our third and final year of Team Mum's Pregnant Women’s Groups (PWGs) in Meru.
In Meru, our three-year UK Aid-funded programme seeks to increase health literacy and self-efficacy among 5,700 pregnant women - helping to reduce maternal and infant mortality through community-based pregnancy support groups.
Over the last year the programme has come into its own. In June we significantly expanded our Community Health Volunteer network to enable us to engage women in harder-to-reach communities. As a result, we're well on our way to reaching our target of 5,700 mums. In August our year 2 evaluation highlighted impressive growth in male partner engagement (an important part of the project as male partners are key decision makers in areas such as expenditure to cover clinic visits), and the 1000+ women referred to further care through PWGs shows how the project is helping strengthen links between communities and the existing health infrastructure.
We’re eager and excited going into Year 3, pushing to reach - and in many cases exceed - our targets and we’re planning a sustainable exit strategy to ensure the community is well-equipped to continue delivering the level of support that pregnant women are currently receiving.
Our newest Baby Box project launched in Kwale in September.
Following our Baby Box pilot in Nairobi in 2018, this year we launched a further Baby Box project to increase the use of postnatal care services in Kwale County. Using the Baby Box as an incentive to register expectant mums, the programme will encourage pregnant women to attend both antenatal care and postnatal care sessions, as well as improving the quality of service provision they recieve by training local health clinicians on national postnatal care guidelines.
This is the first time we've worked in Kwale; it's a region where we believe our work championing postnatal care to improve neonatal outcomes can have a huge impact. 70.7% of the population in Kwale county live below the poverty line, and our baseline study reveals that just 26% of mums in the region are attending life-saving postnatal care services.
Our team have been working closely with three local health facilities to deliver training on postnatal care guidelines, and we’ve already enrolled over 180 mothers (of a target 500) in the programme. We’ll be closely monitoring how this latest baby box programme impacts antenatal and postnatal care attendance amongst recipients, as well as knowledge of key danger signs to recognise in a newborn baby and we look forward to sharing the results with you.
Harnessing SMS technology with MamaTips and Your Newborn: Essential Health SMS
SMS tips provide essential health information to expectant and new parents, directly through their phone. A free 2-way service, users are given reliable health information tailored to their pregnancy, and signposted to further services if needed.
Last year, we partnered with an SMS service, MamaTips, to bridge the antenatal care gap during the pandemic's peak. This summer, we expanded the reach of this antenatal messaging service in Nairobi, testing low-resource enrolment mechanisms (posters in health clinics and partnering with antenatal care nurses in clinics). As a result, we enrolled a further 400 expectant mums (over and above our target!), all of whom have received timed health advice relating to their pregnancy.
We’re excited to see our work with SMS health develop, with its potential to dramatically scale the reach of essential antenatal and postnatal health information. Next year, we will be launching our new service, the Your Newborn: Essential Health SMS project to build upon our experience of working with new mothers and clinics during the neonatal period, supporting mums when their baby is most vulnerable.
A return to festival fields and a will to Ride on...
With so many vital income streams affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was fantastic to see the Charity Concierge team back delivering their exceptional services at Latitude and Camp Bestival over the summer. Our brilliant volunteers stepped up to help us raise over £37,000 to help ramp up our maternal and child health projects.
And while Covid-19 continued to throw a spanner in the works for international travel we can confirm that Ride Africa will be back next November for our biggest ride ever: taking in three national parks, finishing on the Indian Ocean coastline and with a target of raising our biggest amount yet - will you be joining us?
Welcomes and goodbyes
This year we've said goodbye to two brilliant members of our team who have made lasting contributions to Child.org: Doreen in Kenya and Jacob in London. Doreen has been with us since 2017 and has been invaluable working across our three maternal health projects as well as spear-heading the Baby Box project in Kwale. Jacob joined us in December 2019 and has been an indispensable part of the UK fundraising team working across stewardship, communications and pretty much all of our income generating activities. We wish them both all the best in their new ventures. Meanwhile, we are delighted to welcome both new and familiar faces to the team: we now have not one but two Lucys in the team - Lucy J joined us in the UK as our Income Manager based in the UK, and Lucy N returned to the Nairobi team to work with Cherio on our programmes. If you haven’t heard from them already - you will do soon! We are also thrilled to welcome back Faith who has returned to the team to work with in Meru on our Pregnant Women’s Groups.
A special thank you to you - the brilliant extended team.
There are so many individuals and partners deserving of thanks - supporters who have given us valuable time and expertise this last year, who have donated, fundraised and shared our work. So whether you joined us for a Remarkable Tour, bought a Booble or booked your Big Fat Christmas party with us, shared our socials or liked our LinkedIn - thank you. Once again your support means we're able to keep going and ramp up our projects in maternal and child health.
As we step up a gear in 2022, we are so excited to share more of our work with you. So thank you for sticking with us, and from all of us - here's to a bright and busy 2022!