27 October 2005

Advent calendar tells modern story of a mother's hope at Christmas

Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) has launched its Christmas appeal by producing a fundraising advent calendar that gives a global perspective.

The calendar tells the story of new mother Wassa TraorŽ, who travelled hours across Mali because she wanted to give birth at a health centre so her child could have all the care and medical attention necessary. At the end of her exhausting journey, Wassa was able to rejoice in the birth of her baby girl, Safiatou. As we approach Christmas, Wassa's journey echoes that of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem where Jesus was born, which serves as a reminder of both hope and hardship at this time.

Kirsty Smith, Director of MRDF said. 'Advent is a time of hope. Wassa was determined her baby would be born in the best possible place, even if she had to walk miles. She can now celebrate the safe delivery of a healthy baby at the Kadiana health centre, which is equipped and supported by an MRDF partner organisation.'

Sadly, unlike Wassa, so many women in developing countries do not have access to good quality health care. Women in Mali are 150 times more likely die in childbirth than women in Europe, simply because of a lack of basic medical care. Community health care, such as that provided by MRDF partners, can help save lives and bring hope. This Christmas, MRDF is encouraging people to engage with the stories of people like Wassa and provide their support to help protect babies and their mothers in developing countries. They are working with their partners to provide essential pre and post natal care, improved nutrition and simple health care for children in their first few years of life.

The advent calendar is beautifully illustrated and has Bible quotations and colourful images behind each of the 24 windows. It provides a great opportunity for children and their families to learn about life in another country as they count down to Christmas, while at the same time supporting health projects which ensure more women have the opportunity to give birth safely and that their children have a better start in life.

MRDF advent calendars cost £2.50 each. Profits from the sale of calendars will go towards projects to promote infant and maternal health in developing countries. Orders can be placed by e-mailing mrdf@methodistchurch.org.uk, calling 020 7467 5132 or sending a cheque made payable to MRDF to: MRDF, 25 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5JR.

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