The hills are alive with the sound of babies - The Evesham Observer

The hills are alive with the sound of babies

Evesham Editorial 18th Jun, 2019   0

A GROUP of Evesham mums braved the rain to take a ‘Different Path’ across the Gloucestershire countryside to help save mums and babies in Togo

The mums, who all attend Godfirst Church in Cheltenham, completed a four-mile walk around the Bredon Hills to highlight the struggle faced by thousands of pregnant women across Togo, West Africa, who walk miles to access vital maternal healthcare.

The walk, which was led by local mum Anna Smith from Ashton-under-Hill who carried her seven month old daughter, was in support of child development charity Compassion UK and its Different Path Appeal.

In Togo, one of the least developed countries in the world, one in every 20 babies do not reach their first birthday.

This situation is in stark contrast to the UK where only one in 250 babies die before this one-year milestone.

Compassion’s Different Path appeal is working to change this. The UK Government is matching each donation given to the charity’s appeal before June 24, meaning even more families can be helped.

Pregnant women like 31-year-old Akoko who is seven months pregnant, often have to walk an average of four miles, sometimes in temperatures of 35c, to and from their nearest clinic. However, attending an antenatal check increases a baby’s chance of survival.

Anna and her friends Florence Bradbury, Rosanna Moss and Sarah Hodgets, undertook Sunday’s (June 2) walk either carrying their children, or wearing rucksacks on their front, weighing 2.5kgs (5.5lbs), to mimic the weight of an average unborn baby in Togo.

They walked the four-mile circular route starting at Shaw Green Farm in Ashton and walking round the top of Bredon Hill to represent the distance a woman in Togo often has to walk to reach an antenatal clinic.

For just £19, Compassion could safely transport a pregnant woman to an antenatal clinic for a vital check-up.

“The walk was so uncomfortable, I started with Ruby on my front which was challenging, so I switched her to my back but carrying her was much more difficult than I had anticipated. My lower back was so sore for much of the walk. I can’t imagine trying to walk this distance heavily pregnant or just after giving birth,” Anna said.

“We are so incredibly fortunate to have the NHS and all the free and available antenatal care which we can so easily take it for granted. I was blown away by the midwives that helped me in preparation for and giving birth.

“It was amazing at 4am I could hop in the car, drive 20 minutes and be in at the birthing centre, with care from a dedicated midwife and access to a host of medical professionals ready to help in any eventuality. It doesn’t cross your mind that your child may die in childbirth and certainly not after being born in their first year, mainly due to the expertise that we have on hand here when things go wrong,” she said.

Florence who carried her toddler Eisen on the walk commented: “I barely wanted to walk 100 metres when I was in the last month or so of pregnancy. I can’t imagine having to walk four miles. I had quite a lot of uncertainty in my pregnancy and the thought of not having any check-ups or scans would have been really unnerving.

“My labour was also difficult and without being in a hospital I would have lost my baby boy. To face labour with no reassurance of midwives and doctors the option for a c-section would have been really frightening”

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