Back in January 2019 I joined #TeamMum. At the time, I had no idea what that meant, what I was getting myself into, or what exactly was expected of me. But, there was something about the invite to that late January charity kick starter; the suggestion of supporting Mums in rural Kenya that told me instinctively to attend the launch shindig and the rest is history.
#TeamMum found me at the perfect moment; I was beginning to grow tired of blogging toy reviews, I was keen to get back to work, but still wanting to continue blogging with a greater purpose that ‘free stuff’.
At the January 2019 shindig I met some lovely people, ate some epic food, and most importantly, found a cause that was perfect for Mum Muddling Through to champion; to enable, from my own bubble here in Kent in the U.K., better pregnancy and postnatal care for Mums who really are muddling through, and to change the devastating statistic that in rural Kenya, 1 in 27 babies never live to see their first birthday.
I went along that night curious to see how I could help; perhaps share some online content, do some insta shout outs or even a blog post. But, I left passionately compelled to do more – to take the opportunity to help other Mums who frankly made my worst days as a stay at home Mum a walk in the park in comparison.
Mumathon was pretty straight forward, it involved a marathon distance over the month of March, finishing on Mothers day at Bedgebury Pinetum (the coldest 10K I’ve ever run). It wasn’t the most extreme of challenges, but it got me out in the winter of 2019, got my trainers on and saw me raise £405 for #TeamMum (which the UK aid match doubled to £810). For that I was pretty proud and it got family and friends digging deep and sponsoring me for my effort.
The second campaign was a more social approach. #SellOneThing was all about letting go of material stuff, taking an action rather than parting with cash and selling one surplus item that you don’t need, and someone else does. Everyone is a winner with #SellOneThing; you create space, someone else grabs a bargain or something they desperately want, the planet reduces waste and the Women of Kenya get support through Child.Org using your donation.
#SellOneThing created a lot of promise, but it proved hard to mobilise the troops. So many people were up for it in principle but just two people took part in the challenge. Together with me, and the sale of my precious baby wearing sling, #SellOneThing raised £73 (£146 when doubled by UK aid), which is a pretty amazing thing, but I know #SellOneThing has more potential than that…
This week I attended the Child.Org shindig for the second time. No longer nervous or unsure, I could not wait to hear how our thousand pounds (ish) and the other five hundred and two thousand pounds were being spent, and what 2020 has in store.
It was just beyond amazing to witness the fundraising efforts being turned into actual life changing solutions for real women on the other side of the world. I listened with an open mind and a broken heart that so many new Mother’s are faced with such adversity and lack in the support that we all know only too well, is vital in keeping your baby safe and well, and your long nights and endless cries bearable.
From baby boxes, given to mothers to allow their babes to sleep safely, to maternal aids to educate women around breastfeeding and anatomy of their changng bodies and grwing babies, to weighing bags to allow critical birth weight to be recorded and monitored – the simplest of things with a life saving difference.
I chatted to one of Child.Orgs trustees, Eve, who shared with me her experience of meeting first hand the women benefiting from the work of Team Mum. She took part in Ride Africa; one of the key fundraising incentives for the programme, which finished in a project, allowing the riders to see the difference their challenge would bring.
Ride Africa is running not one but two expeditions in 2020, with spaces still available, to ride alongside a team of 80 cyclists, through national parks, along the coast and raising money for Child.Org in the meantime.
During the shindig we listened to Dr Dan Magnus who shared the vision of TeamMum and the strategies employed to make a unique difference to the survival rates of children who need our support.
Through open communication with the communities, Child.Org learnt of opportnities to intervene with simple tools, such as weighing bags for babies, tackling low Iron in children, and educating parents on the symptoms of Malaria.
These key revelations can then be shared with the right institutions to ensure the right changes are made on a wider scale. For example, teenage girls are dropping out of school around the time of their periods starting, so by providing reusable menstrual cups and educating them on how to use them, a ripple of change can begin to spread.
For #TeamMum, the key focus for 2019 was something that so many of us privelaged Mums in the UK already know – the power of women supporting women.
The baby group, the school Mums, NCT, Mumsnet birth clubs, antenatal class friends…however it looks to you, we have all had first hand experience of sharing knowlege in a community of women facing motherhood together.
For the women of Kenya, 55% of them teenage first time parents, that open network of shared knowledge simply did not exist. That’s why Team Mum have created an educational guide to pregnancy and new motherhood, and trained six social mobilisers to roll out training to small groups of women in their communities, who can in turn become social mobilisers themselves and so forth.
The guides contain information such as how to identify danger signs in pregnancy; bleeding, no fetal movements, convulsions… as well as how to care for a newborn safely – sleeping, feeding and caring for a new life safely and in an informed way. Things that we perhaps take for granted; we had the basics and we all still struggled so it’s hard to imagine motherhood without this knowledge.
As well as the womens groups, #TeamMum listened. They asked the women what they needed and the answer was loud and clear… Nappies! So, #TeamMum have sourced and provided the women of Meru beautiful, reusable nappies which they are delighted with. This made me smile; motherhood unites us across borders and languages, cultures and countries. Some things, like baby poo are universally understood!
I was totally amazed by the ingenuity of the fundraising for #TeamMum – Amy told us about the huge success of the award winning Remarkable Tours which have raised a mega £75,000 for #TeamMum. They are also pretty fantastic – I can vouch for that having been treated to a Horrible Histories tour of London back in the summer of 2019.
The fundraising efforts have allowed #TeamMum to put it’s enablers in place and it is working. The women’s groups are all set to be rolled out to 5,700 women and are already set to reduce the mortality rate by 25%.
The work of #TeamMum is far from done. It’s only just beginning. As the dust settles on the Shindig and the team build up momentum for the 2020 campaign, I’m already in the zone, wracking my brains on how to help and feeling pretty bloody proud of what we achieved together in 2019 – you and I, everyone who got involved, who rode across Africa, who embarked on a remarkable tour, who sponsored me, or anyone else or the three of us who sold one thing.
I’m #TeamMum for good…the question is, are you? Will you take action and make a REAL difference?
If the answer is yes, then watch this space…I’ll be back with more #TeamMum news soon, and I have no doubt it will include a familiar feature. I haven’t given up on it yet, and this year I have reinforcements…