Welcome to the first issue of Happy Beginnings, the newsletter of the Mother and Child Hospital Foundation.
We want to give you, our supporters, a glimpse into the lives of new mothers and babies whose lives we are touching through your generous giving.
The news and stories we share will encourage you as you see what is being done, as well as to help spark ideas and connections through which we can support even more new mothers and babies in Albania.
My journey with the foundation started in 2013 when I joined a group of other women to found the first ever Hospital Foundation in Albania, a concept not yet tested in the market. We were tasked with defining how a foundation like ours could make a difference here, and in raising support for it. The vision and faithful dedication over 8 years of first executive director, Gerta Hagen, as well as our generous partners in the community here and abroad have helped us to grow into what we are today.
Last March when Gerta had to leave us suddenly to care for her husband and family, I was encouraged to put whatever skills I had to the task of continuing the good work that Gerta left off. It has been a huge challenge as we, like every other organization, have had to consider every detail of how we do what we do without losing sight of who we are.
Over the years I served on the board, I was involved in organizing gala dinners to raise money for the ongoing work of the foundation. In contrast, today we rely on individual relationships and partnerships with local businesses for projects as well as online crowdfunding.
What never changes, however, is our commitment to being a voice to advocate for and to secure the best care possible for expectant mothers and babies in Albania. I can honestly say I am optimistic that with your help we can replace the despair and mistrust in the medical system with faith, hope, and love for each mother and baby.
Albania is rated as the country with the second-highest child mortality rate in the Balkans. As many as 75% of pregnant women in Albania have never received education on prenatal or postnatal care, making them and their child highly vulnerable to easily avoidable health risks.
The Mother and Child Hospital Foundation through its strategic position and community of donors is helping bridge this gap, empowering and educating mothers through prenatal and postnatal classes, giving needy mothers direct help, and equipping medical staff with training and tools.
Teuta* is a mother of 39 from the mountainous region of Diber who went into an unexpectedly early labor and was brought to the capital to deliver. She found herself far from home and family, unprepared for this emergency delivery, and not able to afford the basic needs for her baby. After delivering her preterm baby who has to spend some time in the NICU, she was taken under the wing of the hospital staff.
Her doctor immediately connected her to our staff to receive a box of baby essentials we keep for very needy mothers. Each “Box of Joy” contains several sets of clothes, diapers and wipes, creams, a blanket, and educational booklets. She also joined in a class on breastfeeding given by Anne Kretschmer a couple days later. This being her first visit to the capital, her doctor has also promised her a tour of the capital as soon as she and her baby are discharged!
*name changed to protect her identity
The first hours and days are critical in the establishment of breastfeeding. One of our board members, Anne Kretschmer, is a midwife living here in Albania with her husband David and her three young children. Anne has been going to the maternity hospital two mornings a week to teach prenatal classes on birth, breastfeeding, and caring for the mother and baby, as well as to counsel new mothers on the wards in caring for themselves and their babies.
Anne has also been instrumental in helping support our community prenatal classes and visit mothers needing help with breastfeeding through our social business Mamicare. We are very grateful for her and others like her who bring a much-needed new level of care to Albanian mothers and babies in providing lactation consulting.
This month we completed our project of installing TV monitors to stream carefully curated material for expectant and new mothers on caring for themselves and their babies, including:
Global Giving is a platform that has been generous to our organization, matching the donations we have raised from our friends. In the link you can find out more and give towards the various educational projects we are involved in such as perinatal classes in person and online, online educational materials, the “boxes of Joy”, and physical booklets for mothers.
We are always looking to build a base of supporters who will pledge a monthly gift at any amount. Global Giving gives you the opportunity to do just that, and will match the first month of your giving once you have given four months in a row.
From April 4-8, we focus on even the smallest gifts that “little by little” add up to a lot of support for our projects. Just this week, when you give up to $50 to support us, @GlobalGiving will match your generosity at 50% for the #LittleByLittle campaign, turning your $10 donation into $15, and on up to your $50 which becomes $75.