Laura Tenison, of JoJo Maman Bebe, is in Guludo at the moment. Laura is a trustee and formidable force behind our charity, Nema Foundation. Here she talks about why we are all so passionate about out community work and calls out for anyone who would like to be a volunteer fundraiser for Nema, based in their office in London...
As a mother I felt a fierce love for my new babies – the word fierce only just begins to convey the power of my emotions. Mothers generally put their babies’ needs and comfort before their own. This is no sacrifice; it’s what we want to do.
When I travelled to Mozambique on a family holiday 9 years ago I heard the statistic that 30% of children died before they reached their 5th birthday. How could the local parents bear such sorrow? I was on holiday with my much loved small boys, on an adventure of a lifetime with Robinson Crusoe type living, small planes and boats, wilderness walks and plenty of integration with the local communities. It was intended to be just a holiday – a way of experiencing a simple and environmentally friendly way to live, with no electricity and few commercial distractions; an alternative to an all-inclusive trip to Disneyland.
But when you meet the people and you hear of the babies dying it’s hard to walk away. We Western mums love our babies like lionesses, why would mothers from another culture feel any differently? It was then that we decided to join forces with Amy Carter, the founder of Nema and try to do what we can to reduce infant mortality in this beautiful but very poor area. That was a long time ago, and we are now deeply involved. I am a trustee and fundraiser, our accounts team handle the bookkeeping and our marketing team work on publicity material. We cover much of the charity overheads, so that outside donations go straight to cause. We have done what we can, but it is not enough.
The news came through today that a two day old baby girl whose birth had just been celebrated, developed an illness. She was taken to the local clinic which is pretty basic, but there were no doctors or nurses. Her parents waited for hours until she died and they headed home. No drama, no ambulance, no A&E, no resuscitation – just sadness at the waste of another little life. My heart goes out to her mother and father; they will be grieving just like any of us would.
There are so many ifs and buts. If only the two motorbike ambulances we have purchased had already arrived, if only the hospital was not so far, if only the nurse had not been away, if only there had been more support at the birth. But we were too late and there is nothing we can do now other than try harder, raise more funds and do our best to prevent this happening again.
I’m off to Mozambique in early March and will see our motorbike ambulances in operation, survey the new school building and take a look at the soya farm which will help provide food for the 1000 young children we give a school meal to each day. I will also try to cheer up Lisa and the team of 8 local charity employees and encourage them not to give up. They do their best but there is so much more we could do and we just don’t have the funds.
I’d love to hear from volunteer experienced administrators or fundraisers who could offer up a few hours a week to help us with Nema at the JoJo London office or remotely from their homes.
To find out how you could offer your time, support or just to donate some money to Nema, please take a look at www.JoJoMamanBebe.co.uk/charity or comment below.
Thanks, Laura x