I was born in Cork 50 years ago this month, in a well-equipped hospital; my mother had attended her check-ups throughout the pregnancy. It was a difficult birth as my mother had complications but she was given the care she needed to survive. She was looked after in hospital and supported through the local doctor to go for post birth check-ups and to take me for vaccinations.
Anytime I was unwell I was brought to the doctor by my Mam.
I went to school when I was 4 a healthy girl thankfully.
I went to primary school, secondary school and university – all supported by my parents.
I was privileged to be born where I was born.
I was privileged that our health system in Ireland ensured my Mam was looked after and I had everything I needed to survive not only my birth but to thrive and see my 5th birthday.
Is it right that this privilege is due to where I was born? I don’t believe it is.
If I was born in Kenya 50 years ago, I most likely would be born at home in the village. My Mam may or may not have survived given the complications she had when I was born. She may or may not have known about the benefit of immunisation and there is also no guarantee that I would have gone to school when I was 4. In fact 50 years ago in Kenya not many girls went to school……..and so my life would have been very different……
Both Ireland and Kenya have grown over the last 50 years……..but the pace of progress is different. Inequality and poverty have prevented a girl born in Kenya today attending school – some do, some don’t; many mothers do not access ANC or deliver in health facilities and where we are based not all children survive to see their 5th birthday. In Ireland girls have equal access to education to boys and technology is available to all. The Irish health system is strong with access to deliveries, ante natal care and immunisation open to all.
This year has been a challenging year across the globe for all of us. For me I have reflected a lot on the differences. The same pandemic has hit each and every country yet the impact is different based on where you live………and this is the difference between life here and life at home……….
Here in Kenya we've never experienced a year like it - the absolute turmoil, the poverty, the hardship, the sadness, the fear.....and we've seen inequality at first-hand … for some soap is a luxury, running water is a luxury, and social distance is a luxury for most. We've seen children remain at home since March working round the clock in the fields. We've seen mothers and babies suffer due to poverty and an overwhelmed health system.
We want to support mothers give birth safely, and children to survive and thrive to reach their 5th birthday. They are the next generation…..they are the future – and together we can give them the best start in life. Do you know if a child is born in Ireland today there is a 1 in 303 chance that they will not reach their 5th birthday; in Kericho this chance is 1 in 20….and that is our reality.
To celebrate my milestone birthday myself and Martin set out to climb Mt Kenya in December to raise funds to support mothers and babies in Kenya.
It was a challenge but WE MADE IT! Despite the cold, the altitude, and the lack of sleep we proudly stood on top of Mt Kenya at 6.32am on Tuesday 8th December! We felt your support every step of the way and for that we are most grateful – it kept us going in the freezing temperatures in our little tent! It kept us going when we couldn’t talk as the air thinned the higher we went; it kept us going when we lacked sleep for 5 days! So thank you thank you thank you to all who joined our journey.
We took on this mountain to raise awareness of the challenges mothers and babies are facing in Kenya. We wanted to highlight that not all babies born in Kenya right now will reach their 5th birthday; not all mothers will survive child birth; not all babies will be born alive.
This is still the case - we have conquered the mountain, and now we want to continue the journey for mothers and babies. COVID-19 has devastated health care…….the full impact may not been seen for some time, but for now we know mothers and babies are suffering…
We invite you to join us as we journey together to make a difference to thousands of mothers and babies……..a positive way to end 2020 and celebrate their future together.
All donations are welcome no matter what the size – it all adds up and will make a significant impact to mothers and babies in Kenya. Asante Sana!