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

Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) has launched itsChristmas appeal by producing a fundraising advent calendar thatgives a global perspective.

The calendar tells the story of new mother Wassa TraorŽ, whotravelled hours across Mali because she wanted to give birth at ahealth centre so her child could have all the care and medicalattention necessary. At the end of her exhausting journey, Wassawas able to rejoice in the birth of her baby girl, Safiatou. As weapproach Christmas, Wassa's journey echoes that of Mary and Josephto Bethlehem where Jesus was born, which serves as a reminder ofboth 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 possibleplace, even if she had to walk miles. She can now celebrate thesafe delivery of a healthy baby at the Kadiana health centre, whichis equipped and supported by an MRDF partner organisation.'

Sadly, unlike Wassa, so many women in developing countries do nothave access to good quality health care. Women in Mali are 150times more likely die in childbirth than women in Europe, simplybecause of a lack of basic medical care. Community health care,such as that provided by MRDF partners, can help save lives andbring hope. This Christmas, MRDF is encouraging people to engagewith the stories of people like Wassa and provide their support tohelp protect babies and their mothers in developing countries. Theyare working with their partners to provide essential pre and postnatal care, improved nutrition and simple health care for childrenin their first few years of life.

The advent calendar is beautifully illustrated and has Biblequotations and colourful images behind each of the 24 windows. Itprovides a great opportunity for children and their families tolearn about life in another country as they count down toChristmas, while at the same time supporting health projects whichensure more women have the opportunity to give birth safely andthat their children have a better start in life.

MRDF advent calendars cost £2.50 each. Profits from the sale ofcalendars will go towards projects to promote infant and maternalhealth in developing countries. Orders can be placed by e-mailingmrdf@methodistchurch.org.uk, calling 020 7467 5132 or sending acheque made payable to MRDF to: MRDF, 25 Marylebone Road, LondonNW1 5JR.