Yes! We Canberra: A post from Julie Kerr.

Yes! We Canberra: A post from Julie Kerr.

Send Hope Not Flowers is a maternal health organisation I have been involved with since its inception in 2010. I was introduced to founder Dr Steve Robson by Mia Freedman and have been a huge fan ever since. Every two minutes, a woman dies in childbirth, and usually unnecessarily. For the cost of a bunch of flowers, lives can be saved with very simple interventions such as basic hygiene supplies, and training midwives and birth attendants. Send Hope Not Flowers partners with effective maternal health organisations in the Pacific (Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia) and are having a tremendous impact. There has even been peer reviewed medical research citing that work Send Hope supports has reduced maternal deaths by 78 percent in a remote province of Papua New Guinea.

To give some more background about Send Hope, here is an excerpt from their website:

“Dr Steve Robson was flying home from a conference reading Time Magazine. He was drawn to a pictorial essay by international human rights photographer Lynsey Addario on the death of 18-year-old Mamma Seesay while she gave birth to twins in Sierra Leone.

Professor Robson was shocked at the continuing toll of preventable death during childbirth in countries where women have little to no access to midwives, doctors or even sanitary places in which to give birth. He decided to do something.

Each day on his hospital rounds, he watched new mothers receive bunches of flowers – flowers which were usually discarded when mother and baby went home.

What if the money spent on a bunch of flowers could go towards helping more women around the world give birth safely?”


Send Hope Not Flowers Blog Logo


One of the most inspiring partners that Send Hope supports is Australian Dr Barry Kirby who works in Papua New Guinea. The ABC produced a powerful episode about his work for their Foreign Correspondent program which is definitely worth watching. Here is an excerpt from the transcript:

“The headlights picked up a dark shape on the edge of the track. Barry Kirby slammed his car into reverse and discovered a young woman, dangerously ill.

‘She sort of just looked at me and smiled. She had the most beautiful smile’ – BARRY KIRBY

The hospital couldn’t help. By morning the woman was dead. It was 25 years ago, but Kirby still chokes up at the memory of the fleeting encounter that transformed his life.

Kirby was 40. He tossed in his job as a freewheeling carpenter in the PNG highlands and spent the next decade studying to become a doctor. His quest now is to save the lives of women in the remotest parts of PNG, one of the most dangerous places in the world for women to give birth. In PNG the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth is about one in 30; in Australia it’s one in 10,000.’

Woah. So, last Friday night, I went to the National Press Club Australia with my band and we played songs from my album Carry On for a Send Hope Not Flowers cocktail fundraiser. The cost of a ticket was $28 which is enough to pay for a life-saving “Baby Bundle.” A piece by the ABC last year describes how Dr Kirby developed this simple, life-saving gift:

“He developed a simple intervention in the form of a ‘baby bundle’ — a gift of nappies, clothes and soap in a plastic bath tub — to encourage pregnant women out of their village and into the clinic. 

The results have been staggering. 

‘Well we’ve gone from 18 deaths to four, if you want the real numbers,’ he said.

‘I don’t know anywhere in the world they’ve done that.'”

It was truly inspiring to see so much support for this very important work.




So next time someone you know has a baby, keep Send Hope top of mind. When you donate any amount, the team will send a card to the mother you know. When someone I know has given birth, I always donate and the response is always very positive. After a woman has been through labour, she is usually overwhelmed by how delicate the whole process is and very grateful for the emotional and medical support. Knowing we can pass that support and solidarity on to someone who lives where there is inadequate medical care for birthing mothers is pretty powerful stuff. You can also send cards for people’s birthdays and other events (Mother’s Day is a very popular time to send a card!) The other thing I should mention is that there are absolutely no overhead costs. 100 percent of funds raised goes to programming. (The nerd in me needs to say that overhead costs are not bad and totally depend on the nature of the organisation – but I make the point to illustrate the type of immediate help you can give when making a donation).

I am so happy to be a supporter of Send Hope alongside women like Christy Turlington-Burns, Lisa Messenger and Sarah Wilson.