Today I’m off to London to speak at Save the Children’s second Blogging Conference. As well as joining with a whole host of other well-known and influential bloggers and You-Tubers to chat about blogging and video blogging, the conference aims to introduce people to some of the staggering work done by health workers around the world. Ahead of the UN Summit in New York this weekend, we want to highlight the gap in resources that exists that, if filled, would allow the right training, resources and support to be given to more people able to fill this vital role.
It’s been just over a year since I travelled with Save the Children to visit their work in Bangladesh and blog and share my experiences via social media and news networks. It was a great privilege to get to see, first-hand, the sort of the thing we’ll be talking about today. I got to see the huge difference that simple things make to communities living in extreme poverty– things like vaccination programmes, health education, regular monitoring, and easy-to-access check-ups to allow prevention and cure of easily treatable diseases such as upset tummies and pneumonia, allowing malnutrition and other problems to be caught early. I got to meet in person some of the amazing women supporting communities in this way, walking on foot to help hundreds of families and I got to be introduced to some of the beautiful children their work had saved – children so similar to my own son, Kai.
It’s been nearly two weeks since Save the Children’s Pass it On campaign launched and, blow me down with an industrial-strength rotary fan, you lot have been AMAZING!
Via tweets alone using the #passiton hashtag, the campaign is calculated to have had a reach of (updated!) five and half million people already, and we’re only just getting started.
For those of you yet to hear about it, on Monday Save the Children are flying three bloggers out to Mozambique. There they will follow the journey of a life-saving vaccine from cold-storage all the way to the front line, to learn what a profound difference it can make to children in a developing country. Their journey will illustrate how vital it is that world leaders pledge to increase funding for vaccinations when they meet in the UK in June — a four hour meeting during which they hold the power to make a decision that could save millions of children’s lives.
This morning, I’m delighted to be helping to launch a new meme on behalf of Save the Children, along with the fabulous Red Ted Art Blog, combining a healthy dollop of potentially world-changing charity action with a bit of a challenge and crafty fun.
As you’ll know, art plays a big part in mine and Kai’s lives in terms of how we both express ourselves. Encouraging Kai to paint and draw as a way of compensating for some of his communication difficulties has been really rewarding.
Since coming back from Bangladesh last year, I have been so aware of how lucky Kai is to have been born where he was. Kai can sit with me and draw a picture of himself while I imagine a future for himself and I know that there is every chance that he will get one, the chance to shine in whatever it is that he chooses.
Here he has easy access to excellent healthcare and readily-available life-saving immunisations, but for many of the children and mothers I met when out visiting Save the Children’s work, that promising future was far from certain, with children often facing seemingly insurmountable barriers of poverty and disease. What’s most frustrating is that many of these barriers ARE preventable, with vaccines costing pence and just a few trained health workers within a community able to make an extraordinary difference.
I am sat here with a wiggly boy on my lap, his busy two year old hands ‘writing’ in his notebook, he says, “just like mama”. This morning he proudly gave me a card with a picture of me on, that he had drawn himself (with three legs, granted, but perfect none the less). It is Mother’s Day, and I don’t think I have ever been more grateful for him as I am today. He is my whole world.
I feel so lucky: lucky that he is healthy and with a bright future full of opportunities ahead of him. Since my trip to Bangladesh last year, the realisation of the huge privilege it is to live in a country that gives him those opportunities have been very stark and very precious.
My friends at Save the Children launch a new report today as part of their ‘No Child Born to Die’ campaign revealing the reality of a global shortage of midwives resulting in almost 48 million women – one in three women globally – giving birth around the world every year without expert help Two million deliver their babies completely alone, and often with devastating consequences.
Just today, on a day when the rest of us celebrate motherhood, 1,000 women and 2,000 babies will die from birth complications which could be easily prevented — prevented by training for health workers and kits to help deliver babies safely that could save thousands and thousands of lives.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter and Facebook, you’ll know that today I, along with my fellow Blogladesh buddies Sian and Eva, had the huge honour of attending the launch of Save The Children’s brand new campaign for 2011.
In the middle of Lincoln Inn Fields in London, surrounded by photographers, journalists and a whole host of inspirational people, the message was simple: no child is born to die.
Posted by Josie on Sep 21, 2010 in Save the Children | 6 comments
Can people really make a difference?
When we’re talking about such global, evasive, complex problems such as poverty, disease, hunger, and on such large scales, can small groups of people speaking out really have any impact?
I guess that’s why we’ve been trying to find out over the last few weeks.
We’ve blogged and tweeted and made videos and travelled half way round the world. We’ve pushed YOU to add your voice to ours and to the voice of Save the Children and you have – nearly 60,00 of you in this country alone. 10 million of you have heard about #Blogladesh. You’ve read about watched the stories of the people we met, and you’ve cried tears and you’ve been moved to talk about what you’ve seen.
This week, the little voices, our voices, are being given over to the hands of 150 of the World Leaders as they meet in New York to discuss what action will be taken globally towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We hope they will set targets to finally ACT on the poverty and inequality affecting such a huge proportion of the world’s population and which are currently way of track.
If any one can affect change, pushed by the global community’s passion and outrage and strong will, it’s these guys.
Last Thursday I got the chance to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg before he left for the UN Summit in New York. I had five minutes. Five minutes to try and get across everything I had felt and experienced in Bangladesh and what he needs to DO, what he needs to be fighting for. I was nervous but felt so proud that we had been able to get our message this far. I just hoped I could do the team and the project justice in such a short space of time.