Aid worker from Sierra Leone thanks Devon supporters for delivering hope in the most dangerous place to give birth

The harsh reality of giving birth in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where ten women die from giving birth each day, was brought to life when a Christian Aid worker shared stories from the frontline of maternal health in her country, at Kingsbridge Methodist Church on Sunday 10th March.

The country’s Senior Programme Officer for Health Projects, Joanna Tom-Kargbo, herself a trained nurse, thanked local Christian Aid supporters for delivering hope to mothers and babies through the programme to make childbirth safer in the world’s most dangerous country to give birth.

Joanna has been speaking at over 20 events in a whirlwind tour of the South West to share with supporters how health clinics, health training and improved hygiene are saving lives in a country where one in nine children don’t live to see their fifth birthday and ten per cent of health workers were killed by Ebola.

The stories she shared will feature in this year’s Christian Aid Week (May 12-18th 2019).

Women are dying because of long distances to health centres, poor facilities, inadequate training for delivery assistants and lack of strength for mothers to give birth in the hungry season from May to September when many families survive on one meal a day.

The Minister of Kingsbridge Methodist church, Rachel Mitchell said: “Everyone I have spoken to since the evening has commented how inspiring our time with Joanna was, and how much they learnt about all that is being done by Christian Aid in Sierra Leone.”

Joanna said: “Communities in Sierra Leone see a woman dying in childbirth as the will of God. But we work so they know it is unacceptable.

“It is inspiring for me to go out to rural communities and see how, as a result of Christian Aid support, villages are taking charge of the changes they need to see and showing other communities what can be done.  Contributions from supporters in Devon really are making a difference. 

“Together we are rebuilding health centres and improving hygiene and medical training. So far 22 communities have built their own health facilities and together we are giving hope to all those expectant mums who have lived with such fear.”

During the evening, Joanna sang a song of thanks to God and for the support of people here in the UK.

Christian Aid regional coordinator for Devon, Jill Stone said: “Christian Aid Week is an amazing celebration of our potential to change the world, through generosity, solidarity and action.

“Each year it’s inspiring to see supporters come together with Big Brekkies, sponsored walks, house to house collections, street collections and so much more. It was both sobering and affirming to hear what Joanne had to say as we look ahead to Christian Aid Week.”