Two kits for Mother’s Day: the lifesaving power of UNFPA emergency birthing kits and mama kits

Mothers make sacrifices every day. UNFPA Mozambique/Natalia da Luz

Every day, mothers around the world make sacrifices -from juggling a difficult career to migrating to a new country– so their children can have safer, healthier lives. But even becoming a mother is dangerous. 

Today, 808 women die every day from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth. 86% of those women live in Sub-Saharan Africa or in Southern Asia. These are places that are poorer, more rural, more prone to climate change-related disasters, and have greater gender inequality. Childbirth is also incredibly dangerous for young mothers. It is the leading cause of death for girls aged 15-19.  

Women do not stop becoming pregnant or going into labor for emergencies. No matter where she is or what is happening in her life, UNFPA works so every mom and newborn is cared for.  One way to reach women in emergencies is to supply UNFPA emergency birth kits, so women can give birth safely, even if they’re alone, and mama kits, so new mothers can care for their newborns, even if their home has been destroyed.  
 
Keep reading to hear the stories of three mothers who UNFPA has helped through their most harrowing days:  

Hiwot from Ethiopia

Hiwot was seven-months pregnant when she fled violence in Ethiopia. UNFPA Ethiopia

Hiwot was 7-months pregnant when conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia forced her and her husband to flee to the nearby state of Amhara. The situation in Ethiopia has worsened drastically since November 2020. Thousands of people have been killed and 2 million people like Hiwot have fled their homes for safety elsewhere.  

For Hiwot, her safety and the safety of her baby were her main priorities. Now, Hiwot and her husband are living with some neighbors from Tigray in a camp for displaced people. UNFPA midwives are in the camp providing prenatal care, safe delivery care, and family planning. Hiwot has received a UNFPA emergency birth kit to ensure that she and her baby survive childbirth.  

The trauma has impacted Hiwot greatly. “I have nightmares,” she said, “about how will I keep the baby alive with no income and living in such difficult conditions.” 
 

Tatenda from Zimbabwe 

Tatenda received a mama kit after Cyclone Idai devastated her home in Zimbabwe. UNFPA Zimbabwe

Tatenda was a new mom when she visited her mother in a different region of Zimbabwe. Tragically, while Tatenda was there, Cyclone Idai, one of the worst storms in decades, struck the coast of Africa.  

Flooding destroyed both her mother’s home and her home. Luckily, everyone survived, but Tatenda lost everything she had prepared for the baby. Tatenda received a mama kit, which contained baby clothes, diapers, blankets, and other supplies, to care for her child. Because of UNFPA’s efforts after the storm, every mother and newborn in Tatenda’s region survived childbirth.  
 

Fire in Bangladesh Refugee Camp

A fire in Roghingya refugee camps destroyed a UNFPA women-friendly safe space and a women-led community center. UNFPA Bangladesh

Fires broke out in March 2021 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, home of the world’s largest refugee camp. Since 2017, Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have found safety in the camps after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. 

Even though the Rohingya are safe from government oppression in the camps, they are not safe from harm. 

The fires destroyed the homes of 10,000 families and several UNFPA facilities. One witness told CNN, “People were screaming and running here and there. Children were also running scattered, crying for their family. It is the most horrific incident I have witnessed recently.” 

Women and girls were especially impacted by the fire, as newly erected barbed-wire fencing limited evacuation routes. UNFPA is responding to the fires by ensuring continuous access to sexual and reproductive health care. 

For new moms, UNFPA is providing mama kits, so they can continue to care for their babies even without a place to call home.  

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and many moms are struggling to care for their children and themselves. This Mother’s Day, you can support new moms like Hiwot and Tatenda and all moms facing devastating hardships, like life-changing fires. Your gift to Friends of UNFPA will help support lifesaving work that includes providing UNFPA emergency birth kits and mama kits to mothers in need. You can save two lives—that of a mother and her baby. 

-Dana Kirkegaard

Your support helps UNFPA care for women and girls when they need it most.


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