I had come with the group Women of Vision. We’re women from all over the United States who work with the non-profit World Vision to improve the lives of people around the world and in our own communities. When our group took this journey overseas, I know many of us believed this would be the trip of a lifetime. But I think few of us could have imagined that it would be the trip of a lifetime for this young mother as well. Victoria had malaria and was very sick. Her tiny newborn, Rebecca, was dangerously underweight. Without an incubator, IVs, or an ambulance to transport mother and daughter to a hospital, the outcome seemed bleak.
Unfortunately, it’s a story that’s all too common for millions of mothers and their babies. Every year, nearly 3.2 million tiny newborns die within a month of their birth from illnesses like malaria and diarrhea. Every day, 1,000 mothers die in pregnancy and childbirth. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Nearly all of those deaths could be prevented with simple medical care, immunizations or bed nets.
Women do not have to travel to another country to know the struggles mothers face everywhere. In living rooms around the country, mothers have been gathering to educate and raise awareness for child and maternal health by hosting a Baby Shower for Every Mother. Like traditional showers, there are decorations and cake, but photos of mothers from around the world line the wall along with their stories, which are often difficult. Women play shower games, but these games have a twist, each created to educate about child and maternal health. Women end up sharing their experience as a mother and what it would have been if they were not fortunate enough to give birth in a country with better resources. Women put together baby baskets for their members of congress bringing to light the reality that when you do not have clean water, proper nutrition during pregnancy or access to a clinic, onesies and blankets are not the priority. These showers began as an idea and the hostess receives a kit. However, without us even realizing it, they grow to so much more. One guest commented, “The evening was educational, spiritual, and stirring and we couldn’t help but leave changed.”
Many pregnant women in the developing world face the same dilemma as Victoria and Rebecca: solutions are simple – but not available – for women without enough money to pay for them or access to nearby healthcare. Gratefully, the presence of the World Vision clinic meant a chance at a survival for this mother and child. Staff members were able to use a vehicle to rush Victoria and Rebecca to a nearby hospital for life-saving care and medicine. The Women of Vision and supported Victoria with 100 US dollars to meet some of the baby’s basic needs. Little Rebecca has been immunized against deadly diseases that often kill children in Kenya before their fifth birthday. And because of other World Vision projects in the area, the family will have easy access to clean water. Despite a tumultuous birth, it’s a bright future for Victoria and Rebecca.
It’s the same future we hope one day to give to all children and mothers. I hope you can support this important effort, whether its learning more, joining the campaign, donating to one of the many charities fighting for maternal health or by contacting Women of Vision to request a baby shower kit. One small step that could mean the world for a mother-to-be and the child she carries.