India 1928. An English man, working for the British Government, and his wife in labour with thier first child. The child is born and mother suffers profuse bleeding. As she holds this little on in her arms, she smiles at her and as life ebbs away says her last words: “O my love it’s misty…” and with that she passes from this life. The baby, unaware of all this tragedy, is called NIGELLA – “Love in a Mist”.
This beautiful tale was told to me by Nigella’s daugther as Nigella herself slipped away from this world; and it moved me immensely. Here at the end of a life, was a story that brought things full circle. Endings and beginnings.
Thankfully we live in a country now where maternal mortality in childbirth is low. The statistics suggest that 8.2 maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births in the UK (and of course this is 8.2 too many!
However, if you have the misfortune to be born in Sierra Leone the figure rockets to 1032.7 deaths per 100,000. This is shocking. This means that Sierra Leone is one of the worst places in the world to have a baby. And that women have a 1:8 chance of dying as a direct result of giving birth.
Now I have no idea how this relates to the statistics in the India of 1928; it is not really relevant, except to say that Nigella’s mother’s experience is more likely in some places than in others.
Thankfully, some people feel that they have a responsibility to share their knowledge and skills with those less fortunate to improve these statistics.
So in this post I want to pay tribute to a small group of midwives at the Alexandra Hospital, Redditch. They have, of their own volition and vision, and without the huge marketing and fundraising departments of the big charities, formed a Maternity Health Link with the Lumley Goverment Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. They raise money for this by fundraising in their spare time so that a small team can go to the country and share their skills. You can find out the effect of their efforts at
What strikes me as remarkable is that these midwives are making a difference. Off their own backs they raise their own money for the flights, and set off to help make the life of other women better. Amazing altruism.
We are so accustomed nowadays to the slick, global marketing of huge charities; and thank God for them. But this initiative warms my heart even more. Small, local groups of people deserve our support. And I am constantly amazed at what the staff at our hospitals do.
So I will pledge this today:
a) To donate some money to this cause (via the website) and support my colleagues in their initiative
b) To write to local and global businesses and organisations to seek finance
c) To publicise and promote this initiative amongst the staff of the Trust (and I know that Bev Edgar- Director of HT and Organisational Development- has taken this to her heart too)
I wonder if you can do anything? Our own home grown health-oriented intiative in our own Trust making a difference in the world. Inspiring or what?
One motherless Nigella, is one too many.