"Every minute, somewhere in the world, a mother dies due to pregnancy related complications. That's over 500,000 mothers every year." (CARE Australia)
In Malawi, Africa, children are losing their mothers and fathers to HIV/AIDS, Malaria, lack of access to health services, and malnutrition. There are currently over one million orphaned children in Malawi. For a country with a population of over 16 million people, this places an enormous strain on elderly relatives, siblings, and care facilities, such as Home of Hope (HOH), to help raise children to independence.
Every few days, newborn or infant babies arrive on Home of Hope's doorstep desperate for food and care. With majority of the population living below the poverty line, many babies who are brought into the world lose their mothers, which often result in losing the opportunity to a safe and healthy life, an education, and any hope for a positive future.
We need to raise $25,000 AUD to fund the construction of a house at Home of Hope to solely support newborn and infant care needs. The Hey Baby project will be a purpose built home, within the grounds of Home of Hope, which will provide education, training, outreach support to families of infants, and care for babies with high needs or who come from emergency situations (e.g. no remaining relatives, referred by Social Welfare due to the baby's safety and well-being being at risk in their current situation).
The house will cater to between 25-30 babies (newborn to 2 years of age) for emergency care. There will be a dedicated space for education, training, and support in:
- Outreach formula feeding program (babies can live with their family and come to HOH once a month/quarter to collect formula for feeding);
- Breast feeding and safe bottle feeding practices;
- Nutrition for pregnant and breast feeding mothers;
- Infant care;
- Prenatal and antenatal care;
- Other issues related to maternal health and wellbeing.
My Background and Involvement with HOH...
In June 2012, a father cycled for eight hours with his 12-day-old daughter to Home of Hope looking for food and support to care for the baby after the death of his wife, the baby's mother, 11 days before. There were not enough caregivers available or cots, so the little one stayed with me in the volunteer house until we could arrange another carer.
The baby weighed less than 1.5kg at 12 days old. She didn't know how to attach to a bottle teat and drank barely 5mL of formula an hour for the first 24 hours. With around the clock care and some creative solutions to encourage the tiny girl to drink, she finally began to slurp formula from a plastic medicine syringe, before transferring to a bottle. From two weeks of age she began to increase in weight by a minimum of 300g a week.
Now at three years old, the little one is happy and healthy and living with her siblings at Home of Hope. She attends the Babies/Preschool class and enjoys eating three meals a day, plus fruit and other home made snacks grown and provided by the house mothers (caregivers).
In the space of 10 days during my last visit in 2015, I met four babies who were all brought to Home of Hope seeking assistance with formula for feeding. Either a mother was malnourished and could not provide enough milk or the mother had passed away after giving birth and the grandmother needed help feeding the baby.
Any amount, no matter how small, can help to make a huge impact. Please support us to help care for orphaned and vulnerable babies of Malawi.