This Christian Aid Week (12-18 May), the charity is inviting people to stand in solidarity with mothers and to raise funds for better healthcare services to support some of the world’s poorest communities.
Christian Aid Week, the charity’s biggest annual fundraiser, unites more than 12,000 churches every year to support global neighbours in need. This year’s campaign focuses on improving maternal healthcare in countries such as Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone is the world’s most dangerous place to give birth: maternal mortality rates there are the highest by a significant margin. For every 100,000 live births in Sierra Leone, 1,360 mothers die, compared to nine in the UK.
Lack of access to a healthcare facility or health professional is one major factor in the high number of maternal deaths. If there is no clinic in their village, women in labour can wait up to eight hours before an ambulance arrives. Others travel to hospital on the back of a hired motorbike, but the poorest have no choice but to walk for hours on foot. Many women and babies do not survive the journey.
Christian Aid Chief Executive, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi has urged the British public to support efforts to help women, girls and babies suffering from lack of access to quality healthcare. She said:
“Christian Aid Week is an amazing celebration to change the world, through generosity, solidarity and action.
“Our world needs hope right now. Every mother, every child, all of us are made in God’s image and we passionately believe that, when we come together, the almighty power of people can make a world in which dignity, equality and justice is experienced by everyone.”
Christian Aid is also inviting supporters to join its campaign to drop Sierra Leone’s debt that was incurred during its fight against Ebola, in 2014-2016. It was the worst outbreak of the disease in history, killing 10% of the country’s healthcare workers. Debt repayments are taking money away from improving healthcare services that is so desperately needed.
Working alongside its local partners, Christian Aid is building more health clinics in Sierra Leone, so that pregnant women can deliver their babies safely. It is also training nurses to provide urgent care in communities and is improving hygiene, so mothers and babies can fight off diseases.
Pregnant women like Jebbeh Konneh, who lives in a rural village in a southern district in Sierra Leone, are benefitting already from the work of Christian Aid and its partners. Jebbeh is terrified of giving birth: not long ago, her sister Fatmata died trying to get to hospital to deliver her baby. She said:
“My sister was crying out with hunger. She died on the side of the road. She never gave birth.”
Christian Aid’s partner RADA (Rehabilitation and Development Agency) is supporting Jebbeh through her pregnancy. The partner also runs local savings and loans groups, to help the most vulnerable women save money so they can pay to get themselves and their babies to hospital, or purchase medicine and other essentials.
From door-to-door collections to hosting Big Brekkies to abseiling off church buildings, thousands of supporters will go the extra mile this May to raise money as part of Christian Aid Week.
A sum of £60 raised could buy a starter kit for community health workers, which includes a bicycle, torch, rain coat and rain boots. Just £15 could buy a stethoscope or a bucket of paint for a community health clinic.
To find out how to get involved or to donate, visit caweek.org or call 08080 006 006, or text ‘GIVE’ to 70040 to give £5.
* Donations will support communities such as those featured and wherever the need is greatest.
Christian Aid Media Centre