This is our very first blog post, written by me – Emma – the journo on the board. Welcome!
I’m going to assume that if you are reading this you already know a little bit about the work we do at Send Hope Not Flowers, which is basically trying to ensure more women in the developing world survive childbirth.
And for those of you stumbling upon this blog post with no idea, here is a quick summary: We are a Canberra-based team running a maternal health charity which takes donations through our website www.sendhope.org and channels them into programs such as training midwives and local birth attendants, providing obstetric equipment and facilities and promoting safe birth initiatives in countries such as PNG, Indonesia, The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
For four years we have been a tiny but hardworking group of four – an obstetrician, an internet entrepreneur, a communications consultant and me. If you want a little more information on how we met, and how Send Hope came to be, you can click here.
Just the other week, we had booked in for a long overdue face-to-face catch up. We had an agenda a mile long and our brains were storing all those tiny bits of administrivia that mount up when you run a not-for-profit that operates projects across several countries.
Of course we all have day jobs. In fact, we kind of have day and night jobs. And we all have children too – ten of them between the four of us!!!
But in the rush to meet at the café and to vote on the latest funding proposals, sign off on projects, prioritise tasks, check back on how we were tracking on other stuff and set our agenda for a hugely busy year ahead, something quite amazing happened.
His name was John, and he had just turned 60. Alex introduced him as Tara and I arrived.
John was from Melbourne and had come to Canberra on business. But he had something important to do and he wanted to do it in person. Serendipity had it that his day in Canberra aligned with the rare event we were catching up face-to-face (more often than not we hold late-night phone hook-ups).
Out of his pocket John drew more than $2000 in $50 notes. On top he placed another cheque from him and his wife, matching the $2000 in cash. All up, he handed over $4160 to us to give to Dr Barry Kirby – a legendary doctor we have been supporting since our inception. If you don’t know anything about Dr Kirby, you should grab a box of tissues and click on this link http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2015/s4313116.htm
Life is too short not to know about some of the incredible people who walk among us.
But back to John.
John had read an article about Dr Kirby, and then, within the space of a week, he saw this Foreign Correspondent piece. It was as though the universe was trying to nudge him along. His 60th birthday was looming and he decided then and there to ask his friends and family to make a donation to Dr Kirby instead of giving him birthday presents. And then he and his wife doubled it.
As the notes piled up on the table, our immediate reaction was shock – that a kind stranger had appeared in our midst bearing cold, hard cash.
Tara, who admittedly had been up all night with a sick child and may have been a tad more emotional than usual, promptly burst into tears.
You see, the thing is, the four of us are committed to saving the lives of mothers. The four of us know the statistics – that one woman dies every two minutes giving birth somewhere in the world. That is, more than 300,000 women are lost to their newborns each year. And the four of us have met and formed relationships with the midwives and doctors who give so selflessly of themselves as they try and tackle this terrible loss of life on the frontline.
But it still blows us away how much public support we receive – how much trust each donor has in use to make their money count in saving a mum’s life. Even four years on, that joy has not dissipated. We appreciate every single dollar. We are invigorated to do more.
And then there is John. An average bloke who gets the urge to help and who makes a simple decision which will have massive repercussions for vulnerable mothers and babies.
His money will translate into 148 mother and baby gifts – an incentive package for PNG mothers thought up by Dr Kirby, funded through us, and shown to increase the number of women having a supervised birth. These gifts have resulted in a massive decrease in the death rate and you can read more about that here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/11/australian-baby-bundles-cut-maternal-deaths-in-png-province-by-78
John reaffirms to us why we should be finding those extra hours in the day to run Send Hope. He cares and now, hopefully, you do too.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and learning a little more about maternal mortality. Just raising awareness about the risks that pregnancy continues to pose to women in developing countries is part of our MO. Thank you for your donations, small and large, thanks for the social media love, and thanks for helping us spread the word about the work that we do.
We would like to continue to bring you blog posts and updates as the year continues. And we ask that you consider us as an alternative to sending a bunch of flowers when a baby is born, or a Mother’s Day gift, or thank you, or birthday gift.
We are doing the best we can to make a difference. We love that John has joined us in our quest – and we hope you will too.
Yours in gratitude, Team Send Hope.