Mothers of Africa
by Kay Hare
Living and working in Monte Carlo is unique. As a tax haven for the rich, it holds many surprises, one of them is the involvement in charity work. It is refreshing to find that some people do want to give back, either donating money or working voluntarily. One of the charities that have come to my attention is Mothers of Africa. A friend and colleague told me about her voluntary work with the organisation and I resonated immediately with their projects.
It takes a special kind of person to see opportunities in one of the poorest nations of the world. It takes courage and faith to set the direction and lead the way into an unknown country where poverty shadows the infrastructure and little accountability, sadly is taken from richer countries, who could help more. Our culture makes no demands or expects a little acknowledgement that as a human race some of us are dying every day. We are praised and expected to earn more and more money, get known on social media or gain superficial titles that set our place in a community. It is odd that our society, with all our advancements, can also be so dismissive to people in need and have little sense of responsibility except to our immediate family and friends. It is like a disease but no one wants to find the prescription, with the exception of a few.
I was introduced to Judith Hall who is Professor of Anaesthesiology at Cardiff University Hospital in Wales and who, in 2004 set up the charity Mothers of Africa. The charity is UK registered and recently became the Mothers of Africa Association of Monaco. Julian Lennon has just been announced as the Ambassador for the Charity to help raise awareness and support. The Association holds many local events raising funds for their clinical and community education projects in sub-Saharan Africa currently focussing on Zambia.
In 2004 Hall attended a World Congress in Paris on Maternal Mortality in Africa, led by an African Professor of Anaesthesiology. The event highlighted the myriad of issues affecting extreme mortality rates of women during pregnancy and childbirth, some of which are due to lack of education of adolescent girls. In sub-Saharan Africa pregnancy and childbirth complications are the biggest cause of death for girls aged 15-19 and fewer than one in five girls makes it to secondary education. After listening to these facts Judith could not walk away and ignore this situation, it upset her and she simply wanted to help.
Six months later Judith was introduced to some of the poorest and most neglected communities of Africa. Many people have assisted and opened doors for the charity but one, in particular, has been the Zambian collaboration with the Clinical Director of Chongwe Hospital Dr Job Mwanza.
As you can imagine the issues affecting the Zambian government are endless, for example, 61 per cent of the population live in rural areas and an estimated 45 per cent of the population are below the age of 15. Long distances between schools and health centres in rural areas limit access, particularly for children. The root of the problem of the death rate for women is education, however, step by step things are changing and Mothers of Africa have many success stories.
Judith explained one of the key ingredients to the Mothers of Africa success is that they never impose on communities, word of mouth attracts people and communities in need. Hall visits the projects every few months of the year. The volunteers and people involved in the projects pay for their own flights or may be funded by other charities.
Over the past 6 years, Mothers of Africa has had many successes in Zambia, such as the opening of a hospital and operating theatres, now providing hundred of operations and Caesarian sections every year. Educational equipment has been donated to Chongwe Hospital in Zambia ensuring sustainability of training.
Currently, their biggest project is in rural Zambia and supports the community development of education for girls and women in Shiyala, a village with a population of 2000. The Association has built and powered a solar adult education centre providing health and general education packages for the community, health centre and a nurse’s house. Now, however, a primary school for 540 children has been built in this same community and this year it needs to be equipped so the school is fully functional. Our dream is to give these children a future out of poverty.
This Summer Judith plans to organise and run two projects, a clinical school where a group of doctors will lead an education programme in Chongwe hospital and, by our Monaco supporters, an ‘Educating the Educators’ workshop for the teachers in our Shiyala Primary School. In 2018, funds are needed to fully equip this school with books, desks, blackboards, equipment for Home Economics and a Science Lab. The team in Monaco will be holding events to raise funds to contribute to this project.
Next year Mothers of Africa is hoping to build a resource centre for teenagers at the Evergreen School near Shiyala Primary School. This resource centre will actively encourage both teenage girls and boys to advance their studies in order to pass important life-changing exams. Funds of around 80,000 Euro are required to make our dream come true.
For more information about events and how to get involved please contact Janice Newport
Email: [email protected]