It’s been some time since I’ve updated this Tumblr. It was intended to document my volunteer work with Save the Children and the run up and aftermath of my trip to Liberia. Since the summer things have moved so quickly that this has simply slipped my mind but I’m now determined to get things back on track.
Let’s start with the annual campaigners conference yesterday (1st Feb). Usual affair of talks and workshops all intended to inspire. At the end of the conference we held a candlelit vigil for Syria. Find out more about how to take part in this and to see how people all over the world are urging world leaders to act to immediately end the suffering of the Syrian people by visiting www.syriavigil.org
Trying to organise stuff into folders so I find it easier to sort through. So far these folders are just piles of papers and stuff in two loosely distinguishable categories. The above being conference stuff and the other being Liberia stuff. This is what it’s like inside my head!
Also, I’m terrible at writing and I’m really struggling to concentrate on writing the follow up press release I said I’d do. Argh!
A thank you card from the Vision into Action conference organiser and some of the badges I wore throughout.
In the time being, however, I’ve had five days off work. Essentially and really long weekend! It’s been fabulous. I’ve seen friends, loved ones, gone skating, made sorbet and toasted marshmallows. What I’m most pleased about getting sorted is the garden. The wet weather we had just before this heatwave has caused my garden to form a mind of its own. It’s now back to normal and I’m able to concentrate on getting some work done.
Currently, I’m sat out in said garden with a beer sorting through photos, organising notes and facts and writing to follow up press release. I’ll tick things off the list as I go…
I went back to work on Thursday after the Vision into Action conference. Never have I been so tired or distracted! I ended up using some toil and leaving early. What I did manage to achieve from Thursday was a list of everything that I need to do over the coming weeks. Not daunting in the slightest…
I found this poster amusing!
Taken at Gibi Elementary School in the Worhn-Gibi district in Margibi county.
Gibi mountain in Margibi county.
We’ve spent the past two days travelling through Bong and Nimba county. It’s so very beautiful here.
It’s been a very busy first few days in Monrovia. We’ve visited slums, schools, clinics and everything in between. We’re off ‘cross country’ to Bong and Nimba counties from tomorrow until Friday so due to my impending lack of wifi, I’ve uploaded just four photos. I’ve taken dozens but these at least give an idea as to what we’re experiencing.
I haven’t even begun to rationalise how I feel about it all yet.
Just a quick photo of me in Sierra Leone. Our plane broke down and we were stuck on the plane in Freetown for 21 hours! It took over 30 in total to get from London to Monrovia but we’re finally at the hotel. Time to start the day!
Just a quick post to say we’re in Heathrow waiting for our departure gate. Fed, watered and all a little less stressed, can’t wait to get there!
I realise that despite all this blogging, that I’ve not actually posted anything about the appeal that’ll stem from this visit. So below, I’ve summarised what exactly the issues are and what Save the Children will look to do to fix this.
THE SITUATION FOR CHILDREN IN LIBERIA
Life for mothers in Liberia is a daily challenge. The lack of health services means that many women are unable to access quality care during their pregnancies or when they give birth. Nationwide, just 37% births currently take place in a health facility. Levels of maternal mortality In Liberia are some of the highest in the world: girls face a one in 24 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth. A child’s chance of survival is intricately linked to that of its mother’s, so when a pregnant woman becomes ill her child is also at far greater risk.
OUR CAMPAIGN TO SAVE CHILDREN’S LIVES IN LIBERIA
Save the Children is appealing for £500,000 to build six new health facilities in some of the poorest and remote health districts across two counties of Liberia – Montserrado and Margibi. Life for many children in these districts is a daily challenge and families here have extremely limited access to healthcare.
By building a total of six new health facilities, together we will provide vital, life-saving medical services to up to a total population area of 40,300 people who are currently have limited access to any kind of proper healthcare. Over one year, together we’ll make sure that:
• 1,370 newborn babies receive the care they need to survive the perilous first
• 750 pregnant women are able to give birth in a safe and clean environment with
• 1,950 under-fives can visit a health professional when they get ill, ensuring easily treatable diseases such as diarrhoea are no longer a death sentence
• 7,300 adolescents and 10,600 women of child-bearing age benefit from family planning support and reproductive health services.
A message from the Chief Executive of Save the Children: Justin Forsyth:
“Two years ago, in the midst of the worst drought to hit Kenya in decades, I met a little girl called Umi. She was very ill: malnourished, dehydrated, and close to death. She had been spotted by one of our mobile health clinics and rushed to hospital. The struggle of this tiny, frail baby, just three months old and clinging to life by a thread, moved me to tears.
In the most dramatic humanitarian crises, sometimes a single story tells us everything we need to know. Umi’s was one of those stories. Pictures of her as she fought to survive were beamed around the world and prompted an outpouring of generosity that raised millions of pounds and saved thousands of lives.
The BBC sent a crew to her village to interview her parents. Andrew Mitchell, then the international development secretary, visited her with me in a small hospital. As the scale of the crisis became apparent, the story of her survival took on a deeper significance, a prick of hope amid the despair.
A symbol of recovery
As East Africa began its slow recovery, she began her own, putting on weight and gaining strength with every passing day. By Christmas 2011, pictures of her transformation appeared on the front of newspapers. The BBC ran a follow-up story on her recovery. Having been the embodiment of the crisis at its worst, as the situation improved, little Umi, still less than a year old, became a symbol of regional recovery and the wider progress being made to reduce child deaths in the world.
On Tuesday this week, Umi’s story ended. She died in hospital from pneumonia and diarrhoea – the two biggest killers of children in the world. In the end, after all she had been through, she was not the victim of a humanitarian disaster. The crops in her village had not failed and the herd of goats owned by her father had not starved, wiping out his income. Umi died because she’d been weakened by that initial bout of hunger, and because she lived miles from nearest hospital. She arrived there too late. She died because her family were poor.”
I’ve had a press release I drafted up published online at BirminghamPress.com! I’m so excited! You can read the article by visiting…
I’ve finally packed! At least I hope I have…I have one large rucksack with my clothes and belongings, a holdall of donations and my small rucksack to take on flight. I’m actually getting quite nervous now.
I’ve spent all afternoon chasing up press release and radio stuff. Fingers crossed something more comes out of this! I’ve been pushing hard and have admittedly struggled with writing the press release. Dyslexia is a pain sometimes. 80% of my life isn’t bothered by it but something like this is horribly affected by it. But I digress…
I have a more detailed copy of the itinerary for the trip which looks something like this:
Monday: Security briefing and introduction on child safeguarding followed by a meeting up with the beneficiaries of the Cash Grant, Children’s Club and Child Welfare Committee in Monrovia.
Tuesday: Visit RCD Marshall Clinic (not entirely sure what this means yet) to talk to staff then visiting a Teenage Clinic where’d we’d talk to adolescent boys and girls and also staff and the women’s group. Then moving onto Wein Town.
Wednesday: Travel to Margibi to visit a drop in centre and having a look at some teaching training work in Kakata. Then visiting the Gibi public school to interact with children.
Thursday: Travel to Bong and speak to staff about a Youth Mission. Traveling onto the Garmu Clinic where we’ll interact with women’s groups. Then going to Zowenta where we’ll look at protection issues.
Friday: Travel to Nimba. Visti child friendly spaces and talk to the facilitators and children. Visit Save the Children supported primary schools.
Saturday: Travel back to Monrovia. Debriefing with staff.