Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prenatal Vitamin Donation Drive

My bags will be MUCH lighter on my return trip than they were on the way here.

I have delivered an entire suitcase full of formula, diapers, wipes, toys and other items to the baby home and orphanage where the children we hope to adopt are currently living.
A stack of paperwork was delivered to our attorney.
I dropped off a large package of M&Ms for a friend who has been here much longer than she expected and who needed a taste of home.
Most of my snacks have been consumed.
My antibacterial hand wipes- well, those were gone after the first week.
The can of Off Deep Woods- used that up by about day eight.
And then there are the items that I never planned to leave but that somehow made their way out of my bag.
My hair brush that the little girls at the orphanage couldn't get enough of. I let them keep it. I would have let them keep anything that made them belly laugh and grin from ear to ear like that.
My lotion. The lady who works at the home where I am staying mentioned how good I always smell (really?) and asked me what kind of lotion I use. Now it is hers.
And a half full jar of prenatal vitamins. Not sure why I packed those in the first place but someone must have known that there was a person a world away who needed them more than me.

A few nights ago I went for dinner at a friend's house. She has been living here for 9 months now. At the end of our dinner she called one of her favorite drivers to come take me home (I'm really not that much of a princess and don't mind walking but it was getting late and I was with another friend who has a baby so it wasn't exactly safe to walk a long distance or ride on the back of a motorcycle in the dark). She packed up some of the leftover cake that we had for our dessert and mentioned that the driver's wife is newly pregnant and that it might taste good to her. Somehow in the conversation it also came up that it might be nice if somehow we could get some prenatal vitamins for her. I remembered the vitamins sitting in my toiletry bag, not one of which had been consumed during the entire trip. With my diet of fried chicken, pizza, french fries, cake, spaghetti, pancakes, bananas, mango and everything else that I have consumed in the past few weeks, I am sure that I am not lacking in the nutrition department.

So I offered to give my vitamins to his wife.
Our driver's face lit up as if we had just told him that we were giving him a new car. "Really?" He asked. "She will be so excited!" I was starting to worry that perhaps he had misunderstood and thought I'd said something like "crib" or "college tuition" instead of vitamins. However, I went inside, brought them back out and, sure enough, he was THAT happy about the vitamins for his pregnant wife and unborn child.

Malnutrition is something that is very real. Here in Africa you can't look away- it is staring you in the face. You see it in the faces of children in orphanages. You see it in the large, fluid-filled bellies and tiny, wasting limbs of the children playing in the slums. You see the hunger in the eyes of so many. It's hard not to do something, anything, but it's hard to know where to start.

Of course. Start in the beginning. If we get prenatal vitamins for pregnant and post-partum women, we are helping them give their children a healthy start. If we address the health of the baby from the time of conception, just maybe we can help prevent complications and future health problems. And it's a vitamin. It's easy to take. Easy to store. Easy to pack.

As this idea was unfolding in my head I remembered my sweet friend who invited me over for dinner (and fed me some of the best birthday cake I've ever been lucky enough to eat) and though of her own ministry that she has started during her time here. She founded Mercy for Mamas and provides Mama Kits that contain sterile birthing supplies for expectant mothers. You see, here in east Africa the "norm" is not to give birth in a sterile hospital with a team of professionally trained staff. The norm is to give birth at home, often unassisted, on the dirt floor using whatever supplies happen to be on hand. Through her work my friend has touched the lives of countless women by providing supplies that help promote good hygiene and that help make birthing and post-partum mothers more comfortable. What a great project. You can read more about it here. I thought again of the vitamins and wondered if maybe we could incorporate these into her kits so every woman receives a bottle of prenatal vitamins along with her sterile birthing supplies. Wheels were turning.

We discussed it further and decided that we'd collect as many bottles of prenatal vitamins as possible for me to bring on my next trip. We will make a label in both Luganda and English so the women know the proper dosage, know to keep them out of the reach of young children, etc. We're so excited to get this project off the ground!

Here's how you can help.
* We need vitamins- unopened containers of prenatal vitamins, any brand, any size of container.
* You can send them to me. If you don't know how to contact me you leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will send you our mailing address
* You can donate money and I will use EVERY CENT of it to buy as many vitamins as I can. Click the PayPal link in the top right corner of the page and just make a note that the donation is to be used for prenatal vitamins.

Thanks in advance for all of your support with this project! If we can help improve maternal and infant health with a jar of vitamins, why not? Something so small and so simple that we often take for granted. I knew I threw that half full jar in there for a reason...!

2 comments:

  1. I'm not collecting them anymore but one of my friends runs a ministry in Uganda that does ongoing work with expectant mothers and they would probably be happy to receive them! Here is their website: http://www.mercyformamas.com/

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