Hands Delivering Hope: Laki’s Story

Long before the current COVID-19 pandemic, pregnant women, new mothers, and babies living in places of extreme poverty were already vulnerable to health risks. Approximately 2.7 million newborns die each year, and 99% of maternal deaths are in developing countries. COVID-19 has only increased their health challenges.

In this unsettling time, we remain committed to continuing to provide community-based health promotion, education and nutrition programs that protect the health of mothers and their babies. 

Pregnancy without regular health checkups and giving birth without a doctor or midwife are scary prospects for a mother and her family. In places of extreme poverty, where resources are often limited, World Renew trains community members to become local health volunteers and traditional birth attendants (TBAs).

TBAs make sure that women in the community receive prenatal care and accompany mothers in labour to the local clinic so both mothers and babies have the best chance at survival. These skilled workers also promote healthy development in children by encouraging breastfeeding, teaching parents proper nutrition, and monitoring the children’s growth milestones. 

Laki Akter, a trained health volunteer in rural Bangladesh, has seen the difference this guidance can make in the lives of at-risk mothers and children.  

In Laki’s community, World Renew and its local partner implemented a community-led initiative to improve the nutritional status of children from birth to 24 months, and to ensure that their mothers receive proper nutrition. After being selected by her neighbours, she took World Renew’s training to become a health volunteer. 

Laki said, “I remind pregnant mothers to receive regular check-ups from a health facility. I tell family members to grow vegetables and raise poultry to eat for their nutrition. I also teach families to use sanitary latrines and practice good personal hygiene in their daily life.”

Today, Laki has good news to share: she has noticed life-saving changes in her community as a result of these new, healthy practices. Pregnant and nursing mothers are visiting health facilities for prenatal and postnatal care, and children are enjoying better health.

These are precisely the kinds of healthy practices that will help pregnant women and their children continue to survive and thrive, even with the challenges of COVID-19. 

Visit www.worldrenew.ca/mchsunday to access Maternal and Child Health Sunday materials, including a downloadable insert, an image to be shared on church and individual Facebook pages, a place to give your Maternal and Child Health Sunday offering, and other helpful resources. For more information, call 1-888-WRLD-RNW (1-888-975-3769).