Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Send Hope, Not Flowers to the New Moms in Your Life

The other day as I was bemoaning the high costs of prenatal care and delivery fees at our local birth center, it reminded me of an article my mom sent that I feel deserves your attention as well.

Here in the United States, we are fortunate to have excellent medical care when delivering our babies. For many millions of women around the world, however, a safe and clean place to give birth simply isn’t an option. Affordable access to contraceptives is even less likely.

According to the
United Nations Population Fund:

Pregnancy is a leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 19, with complications of childbirth and unsafe abortion being the major factors. Women aged 15-19 account for at least one fourth of the estimated 20 million unsafe abortions and nearly 70,000 abortion-related deaths each year.

For both physiological and social reasons, mothers aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their 20s, and girls under age 15 are five times as likely to die as women in their 20s. Obstructed labour is especially common among young, physically immature women giving birth for the first time. 

The World Health Organization adds that: 

"Every year, approximately 287,000 women die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth, 99% of them are in developing countries."

When my parents were in Papua New Guinea in September they heard about Dr. Barry Kirby and his efforts to provide basic prenatal care and delivery services to destitute PNG mothers.

His story is fascinating, compelling, and heartbreakingly common in our world’s poorest nations. I urge you to read it:

Builder Barry Kirby's labour of love in PNG

IT was midnight and Barry Kirby had been at the wheel for almost seven hours, nudging his 4WD 200km down a goat-track of bog, fog and yawning ravines in some of Papua New Guinea's most inhospitable back country, when he experienced his epiphany.
Later, friends would gently suggest he was overthinking a garden-variety midlife crisis. He was a prime candidate - 40, a loner, a searcher; a carpenter by trade and adventurer by nature, nearing the end of a defining four-year posting in a lost corner of PNG. "People would talk about 'change of life' and other stupid things," says Kirby, ever the plain-spoken Australian tradie. "But I kept getting these messages."
That night on the road in 1990 he was hauling building materials back to the village of Menyamya, where he'd lived for the past four years, when his headlights fell on what looked like a hessian sack. Kirby climbed out of the cabin to investigate and found a woman curled under a cloak of beaten bark. People appeared on the roadside, drawn out of the rainforest by the Toyota's lights. Language doesn't necessarily translate from one valley to the next in PNG, but Kirby learnt that the woman had been cast out as a witch. She had two dead husbands. She also had chronic diarrhea and, on later reflection, very likely HIV-AIDS.
Read the rest of the article here

Dr. Kirby’s work in PNG is directly supported by Send Hope, Not Flowers, an all-volunteer Australian charity. You can read more about them here.

My Dears, I hope you will join me. In lieu of flowers for the new (or experienced!) mother in your life, I urge you to send her a card instead, telling her that you’ve made a donation that will directly assist other mothers around the globe - and give their babies a healthy start to life.

Buy cards here or donate directly to Dr. Kirby’s efforts in PNG.

Thank you and happy holidays.



[Note: charges are made in Australian dollars and some credit cards has foreign transaction fees attached.]

Photo Source: Vlad Sokhin, The Australian