Join VSO’s First ‘In Her Shoes’ Charity Walk -
VSO is holding a series of fun walks across the UK called ‘In Her Shoes’ on Sunday 8th and 15th May and is urging mums and dads to sign up with their friends and family to help raise vital funds for its life saving maternal healthcare work in some of the world’s poorest countries. Everyone involved is being encouraged to go glitzy and decorate the walking shoes they’ll be wearing on the big day!
|Emily Maitlis' shoes for VSO's In Her Shoes|
|Zoe Wanamaker's shoes for VSO's In Her Shoes|
In Her Shoes is also about increasing peoples’ awareness about the large number of women who tragically die every day in Africa and Asia from child birth or pregnancy related issues. According to the World Health Organization, a woman dies every minute in childbirth. Many of these deaths could be avoided if there was access to the right maternal healthcare.
Fundraising for In Her Shoes is imperative. It will help VSO to continue to send skilled volunteers such as doctors and midwives to share their knowledge, experience and train local staff in the healthcare profession to be able to carry out these critical roles, which could lead to more lives being saved in the long term. VSO volunteer doctors and midwives are also busy treating patients right now overseas, resulting in an immediate effort to save lives in the developing world.
Grace a 19-year-old woman from southern Malawi’s Mwanza District in Africa had tragically endured three miscarriages before she became pregnant again. Grace was just seven months expectant when she went into premature labour with her first, much longed for daughter.
After encountering an arduous two-hour walk to reach her nearest health centre – she thankfully gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Grace was absolutely ecstatic. This was the daughter she and her husband had wished for and she was named Chimwemwe (meaning ‘happiness’).
Being so premature her daughter was really tiny, weighing an alarming 3lbs. Because she was so small and fragile, Chimwemwe had trouble feeding and staying warm so Grace decided to take her back to hospital. This involved another long and tiring half-day walk for the new mother.
With no facilities for premature babies at the hospital, Grace was given a bed in the postnatal ward where she had to try to keep her vulnerable baby cosy. However this was a near impossible task without heaters or bedding and an outside temperature of just 10⁰C.
Struggling to maintain any body heat, Grace had no warmth to pass onto her daughter, as she clutched her close – holding on to her for dear life and fearing the worst would happen. Tragically, it did. Three days later Chimwemwe passed away. Grace had encountered the horrendous loss of her daughter because of cold conditions and inadequate facilities.
Many of the fragile babies born early in Mwanza die – particularly if they’re being transferred to the main regional hospital. So VSO volunteer Dr Marike Maijers has introduced ways of caring for the babies on site. She’s trained staff to provide ‘kangaroo care’, where mothers of premature babies keep them warm through skin contact.
As a result, more local babies are now surviving, despite their small birth weights. It’s the kind of care Grace should have found waiting for her at the end of her long walk but regretfully didn’t.
Kangaroo care is just one of many ways VSO health volunteers are working in hospitals and communities to help mothers detect problems early enough and access medical care. They set up special maternal clinics and nurseries for sick babies and teach the next generation of midwives, obstetricians and nurses.
VSO’s fundraising development manager, Jane Quayle said: “The impact of our health volunteers’ work is significant but we urgently need more funds to maintain and strengthen the flow of volunteers to where they’re needed most. Even today in Malawi one woman in 18 still dies in childbirth; in Sierra Leone it’s one in eight. Every woman, regardless of where she lives in the world, should have access to good maternal health care. Your involvement in our walk could prevent future heartache for women like Grace.
“So why not round up your friends and family, sign up and get together for a really fun day out. And this includes the men too! You’ll all be out enjoying yourselves, being active and spending time with your nearest and dearest which will be really great and even better for those in the world’s poorest countries who’ll benefit from the money raised. Please join us and walk together for a great cause that could help save lives.”
VSO is aiming to raise around £40,000 in total from all its UK walks for its vital work in maternal healthcare.
For more information or to sign up for the walk visit www.inhershoes.org.uk. Registration for adults is £10 per person (this is non-refundable) and each walker needs to raise a minimum of £100. For more information on VSO visit http://www.vso.org.uk/.