Ride Africa is Child.org's biggest source of unrestricted income. If you fundraise for your Ride Africa ride, or donate to support a rider, we owe our existence to you. Here's just a small insight into the work that that we could pay for in 2019 because of your support...
Pregnant women's groups in Meru, Kenya
In February 2019, Child.org launched our first ever Team Mum appeal, raising over £500,000 in three months - including matched funding from the UK government. Ride Africa fundraising paid for the cost of applying for this grant and running the appeal, and 2019 rider fundraising represented a quarter of the total raised during the appeal. This means that in 2020, thousands of new mums will have access to vital health information that they wouldn't have had before, because of our riders.
Donata (below) is one of the mums who shared her story during the appeal (watch her video here). In our most recent survey in Meru, we found that 66% of pregnant women couldn't name a single benefit of breastfeeding their baby. These pregnancy support groups are designed to arm mums with information like this, which could save the life of their child.
Ride Africa funds our Kenyan team
Child.org's Nairobi office is largely funded by Ride Africa fundraising. Having our own team in Kenya means we can work with partners directly, create relationships with the ministry of health and local government organisations, and run some projects directly, like our Baby Box programme.
A Child.org Kenya team member who our riders will know well is Tyson. Tyson's been involved with Child.org since he was a child himself, living in Kisumu (read his story here.) In 2019, we were extremely proud when Tyson was given the opportunity through his university to travel internationally for the first time in his life, representing Kenya in an international effort to promote the sustainable development goals.
New enterprises: The launch of our Horrible Histories walking tour.
In 2019, Child.org created the first ever Horrible Histories walking tour. Because of your fundraising, our London team were able to: hire a writer to adapt the Loathsome London book into an awesome interactive tour (thank you Liam Fleming); have meetings with Scholastic and Terry Deary to shape and approve the project; and get this event on sale through Airbnb.
After the launch, we worked with Airbnb to run a schools pilot. Airbnb paid us a grant to allow school groups to go on the tour for free. We even took Kids on the Green on the tour (a community group set up in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy for local kids affected). Launching new tours like this makes our charity more secure and sustainable, providing us with the income we need to commit to projects long term.
The return of baby boxes in 2020
Some of the money raised by Ride Africa riders in 2018 and 2019 has been funding the development of the next iteration of Child.org's Baby Box programme. After a successful pilot in 2018, our team have been designing the next stage of the programme, researching the best location (where there is the greatest need) and applying for further funding to launch the new phase. The new project will launch in 2020, and in November, Ride Africa riders will visit the project to see for themselves how providing babies with a safe place to sleep can also help spread vital health information among communities. This is a lovely oppotunity for returning riders to see the impact of the donations they've raised in the past, and report back to the people who supported them last time!
Faith (below) is a fruit vendor in Nairobi who received a box for baby Tallia, who told us that the box provided an extremely useful place for her to put Tallia during the day, where she could cover her with a mosquito net and keep an eye on her! The Baby Box project pilot saw an 81% increase in women and babies accessing life changing services.
Some other highlights of 2019 include...
We started working with Ruby Cup, supplying women and girls with sustainable and hygenic menstuation products.
We made new discoveries in Sierra Leone, conducting an assessment of health needs in the Yoni community.
We formed new links with the Kenyan Ministry of Health - expanding still further the potential for Child.org projects to have long-term influence and impact in the communities we're working with.
This all sounds great... but how far did my £20 go?
I know donors love to hear examples from our work of what their donation could have paid for specifically. Here are some examples of costs from some of the projects above, I hope they help to showcase just what great value our work is when you consider what an impact you can have with every pound you raise.
A donation of just £7 could pay for a crocheted boob, created by Kenyan crafter Namsi to be used by social mobilisers to demonstrate breastfeeding techniques. (Read more about these boobs here.)
A donation of £10 is enough to pay for a new mum starter pack in Meru. This pack contains some essentials that are spcific to the needs of mums in this community - like a weighing bag (which Mercy is looking at in the photo) which will guarantee that the womean's baby can be weighed at her local health facility. The pack also works as an incentive for pregnant women to attend all their support groups.
It costs £24 to print a copy of our big A3 Pregnant Women's Group Session Guides. These teaching guides help social mobilisers to run their groups and show information - a bit like a Powerpoint presentation which doesn't require electricity or equipment!
It costs just £74.07 for a young woman like Mercy to go through our entire Pregnant Women's Group programme. She'll attend six informative sessions, make a birth plan and be introduced to her local health facility where she can give birth in a safe environment.
What will Ride Africa pay for in 2020?
This year, Ride Africa fundraising will fund a new Team Mum project in Kenya, working with some of the very youngest and most vulnerable mums. We want to reach 2,240 adolescent mums in Siaya County through support groups.
In this area of Kenya it is common for teenage girls to exchange sex for sanitary products, so they can attend school when they are on their period. Sadly, many fall pregnant and/or contract HIV, which is prevelant in this area. Many teenage mums then drop out of education altogether.
The groups we will create with 2020 rider fundraising will teach similar important health information to those in Meru (including family planning, breastfeeding, what to expect from pregnancy, preparing for birth, and how to look after a newborn baby). These new groups will also have a focus on meeting the special needs of these very young expectant mums. Those who are HIV positive will be in groups together, to provide them with a safe space to speak openly - free from stigma and with a specially trained group leader. These mums will be encouraged to attend antenatal care services to receive treatment to prevent them from passing on the infection to thier baby.
All the groups in Siyaya will aim to improve pathways back into education for adolescent mums, offering advice, support and a "back to school" pack. 26% of girls in Siyaya aged 15-19 years of age have given birth to a live baby. If we can improve access to education in this group it could make a real difference to the gender education gap here. This brand new programme is an opportunity to investigate if Child.org's Pregnant Women's Group model can support the specific needs of these mums - who are themselves children living in difficult circumstances.
Join Ride Africa 2020
If you're interested in supporting these really young mums in 2020 - then why not get on your bike? Our spectacular new route will showcase the most Kenyan wildlife ever seen on a Ride Africa ride - as we head through three national parks and visit elephant and rhino sanctuaries. On day four you'll reach the South Coast, where all your hard work pedalling will be rewarded with dazzling white beaches and a run into the warm sea. Then you'll head along the coast to bustling Mombasa and finish the ride for a trip to visit our brand new Baby Box project.
What are you waiting for?
Happy new year
The photo at the top of this blog shows mum Yvonne, baby Natalya and Shantel (5). Yvonne received a Child.org baby box when Natalya was born, she found the box and the mosquito net really useful. Shantel was very keen to pose for the camera when we visited the family, and she was sure to tell us which photos we should keep and which to delete. So I thought she'd like the idea of being on our homepage for the new year.
Happy New Year, Child.org fans. Be like Shantel - sashay into 2020 like you own it.
If you like the way Child.org do things - then please support us. We are small and brave and we need your support to grow our impact. Join Team Mum monthly and help us build a stable future for Child.org by providing reliable funding for our work with mums and babies. Join today and we'll send you a free t-shirt!