In too many countries, birth is still unacceptably dangerous.
In Kenya, one in 26 babies will not live to see their first birthday.
In Sierra Leone, one in 17 women will die in childbirth.
This problem is keeping families in poverty and driving inequality. Child.org want to build a world where families are able to build stable futures for their children and lift their communities out of poverty. This isn't possible for families who can't be confident that their children will survive.
Our friends at mamaME have been helping Child.org in our mission to make birth days safer. Read on to discover why that's important - and what we've been up to!
The power of mum
mamaME and Child.org both understand that if you want to help babies and children - a great place to start is by supporting their mum. Child.org have read so much research evidence that tells us that working with mothers is the key to preventing more infant deaths in low-income countries.
So together, we’re working to arm more new mums with the expert health information and community support they need to make their pregnancies and early months of motherhood less dangerous.
Questions to answer
In rural Kenya, we want to make sure every mum, however isolated, has access to friendly support and expert health information. We want to launch pregnancy support groups that will empower these mums - and save lives. We just need to raise the funds.
What they said
- Amanjit Dhillon, Partnerships officer, Child.org
It's such a pleasure to work with a company like mamaME, because they understand instinctively why supporting new mums can have such a fantastic impact on a baby's prospects in life.
- Helen, Founder of Mamame box
mamaME Box was created to help support and empower mums; to remind them that they matter too. As founder of mamaME Box and as a mum of two, I simply cannot begin to imagine what it must be like for mothers without any kind of support network during pregnancy; without access to satisfactory health care or information. mamaME Box look forward to working with Child.org on their mission to make pregnancy a safer and happier experience in Kenya.
One of the ways Child.org believe we can save lives will be to encourage more young mums to attend their antenatal and postnatal appointments. At one of our programme development workshops, Anne-Liese met Grace, whose story highlights just how important that is.
"Grace is 18 and pregnant for the second time, with her baby due any day now. She told me about how her first pregnancy ended in tragedy at 7 months.
"Grace was at home when her waters broke early. Although she had not attended any antenatal appointments, she knew she needed to get to the hospital, so she and her parner got in a Matatu (a public and crowded minibus) and headed to Kenyatta National hospital in Nairobi. When they arrived, Grace was immediately admitted and the hospital team performed an emergency c-section..."
Join Team Mum
If you have a way to reach parents with our message, please be like mamaME and join Team Mum. You'll share our appeal in Feb-April 2019 and fund pregnancy support groups in rural Kenya.
In the lead photo above, Child.org Programming Intern Faith hands a box to new parents Annastacia and Ernest for their baby Samuel. Below, Child.org Programming Officer Cherio hands a box to new parents Leonard and Sylvia for baby Truth.
Members of staff at the health centre go through the safe sleeping information printed on the top of each box for all new parents.
Babies Diyan and Samuel couldn't wait to try out their new beds! As you can see, it's chilly in Kenya at the moment with parents keeping their baby well wrapped up! Each box comes with a snuggly blue baby blanket, as well as a mosquito net.
Child.org will distribute 500 of these boxes, and follow up with 200 of the families with an in-depth interview at their home within the first three months of the baby's life.
These interviews will tell us how useful the families are finding the box, and how their experience, including access of postnatal care, differs from that of the new parents we spoke to before the programme began.
We don't have those findings yet, but we are already collecting obvervations from the box and voucher distributions to highlight areas that we can improve and develop the programme in future. To give you an example, here are some of the observations that Cherio, Doreen and Faith recorded after their visit to the health centres this week, taken from their notes:
- The working mothers, especially those that are casual labourers, tend to come for the antenatal care sessions late, at 7-9 months
- Women do not know their due date and their scans are often unclear hence making it difficult to know if they are expecting twins
- A large number of the mothers are unsure of their due dates
- There is very minimal male involvement as we will rarely see the women’s partners accompany them to the clinics
- Teenage girls also come for antenatal sessions late (in their third trimester). A majority of teenage girls seem to be on the move as they seem uncomfortable stating where they live
- Many mothers are unable to read or write, so the Child.org team have to go through the programme and the forms with them very carefully
- Hardly any mothers know what postnatal care is
- In one health centre, the blood pressure machine is often running low on batteries so mothers are being asked to contribute money to buy new batteries
- Some women are curious to know the price of the box and upon informing them that it's free they ask why it's free
We look forward to sharing detailed findings with you later in the programme!
If you like how Child.org do things, please do consider giving a regular donation. Having regular, dependable income from the supporters who believe in us most provides the stability we need to be ambitious and plan effectively.
The London team are excited to be moving to a new home in Old Street! From August 3rd, 2018 our new address will be:
209-211 City Road
To celebrate, we'd love you to join us for Child.org Friday drinks on 3rd August from 5pm at The Eagle pub on Shepherdess Walk, right round the corner from our new home! Everyone is welcome for an informal meet up and a chat about our current work and plans.
As well as having more room for our growing team, Child.org are particularly excited that our new office sees us sharing space and working right alongside other charities! We'll also be more central and closer to public transport links, which will save our team valuable time in travelling to meetings and make it easier for people to come and see us.
Please do update any records you have for us, and bear with the team during the transition period while we update our address everywhere and get settled in. (Our phone number will stay the same, a big benefit of using an office mobile instead of a landline.)
Look out for more updates about our new space... because we've got some VERY exciting plans in the pipeline. No spoilers.
(We don't have a pic of our new office yet, but this post looked a bit dull without a photo. So I've used one of Anjali moving everything into our new office two years ago. She'll be thrilled.)
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.