Gifts of Compassion can help fund Mums and Babies programs that transform the lives of mothers and their babies, just as it has in Waley, Thailand.

In every country around the world, apprehension and joy go hand in hand when you’re a new or expectant mother. But in the small village of Waley in Thailand, that apprehension was based on the devastating losses they had experienced firsthand.

In Waley, 30-40 per cent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and the under-five mortality rate is high.

Resources and services for pregnant women were scarce, and the only option was a local, severely under-resourced hospital. Sometimes, all the hospital staff could offer was paracetamol. For better care, families had to travel further—an overwhelming prospect financially and physically for most expectant mothers. With Waley considered a top priority for Compassion due to such great need, the Mums and Babies program was put into place as soon as the opportunity for expansion arose.

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For 22-year-old Mu Aye, who is expecting her first child, this development could not have come at a better time.

“I heard about the invitation from the church. They invited us to hear about the program for mothers and babies. And I was so excited to hear and believed it must be a good thing,” she says.

“I felt so glad that they will have a program where I can learn so many things to prepare for the birth of my child. So I didn’t hesitate to register right away.”

For other women in Waley, the launch of the Mums and Babies program has presented them with an opportunity to be trained to help the young mothers and children within their community. Apatcha, an experienced Compassion staff member, has been mentoring and training new staff to facilitate the program. This will ensure mothers and babies have all the support they need, including specialist follow ups during and after pregnancy, nutrition advice and home visits. There is also an important monthly gathering where the women can learn and grow together through activities and sharing their knowledge and advice with each other.

“We are training our new Survival [Mums and Babies] staff and we visit often to make sure we can help and support her to be her very best,” says Apatcha. For Ler Port Tu, Mums and Babies has provided a chance for her to do something she has long desired. “I always wanted to serve the mothers and children in my community. For I hope they will be healthy, both physically and spiritually. I don’t have any experience yet, but I will learn together with those mothers,” she says.

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Malnutrition rates in Waley are high: 30% of children between birth and five-years-old are malnourished, putting them at risk of serious health conditions and delayed development. To combat this, as part of the Mums and Babies program, mothers receive education around nutrition and food packs during pregnancy. Decreasing rates of malnutrition, in both mothers and children, helps break the poverty cycle by ensuring children reach their developmental potential and giving them the opportunity to thrive.

No longer do expectant or new mothers like Mu Aye have to carry the heavy burden of worrying about their children’s health and development but being unable to change their circumstances. Now they can concentrate on the joy that accompanies the journey of new parenthood.

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Win Than, a new mum to a 4-month-old baby, was fortunate enough to have her first child with no complications. But there was one surprise. “The hospital here told me that I was having a boy. But I gave birth to a girl.” The safe birth was like a sound of hope echoing through the village that day.

Mu Aye and Win Than met each other when registering for Mums and Babies at their local Compassion centre. “I met some new friends at the registration. One of the girls I met, she just has her first baby, and we get along so well,” says Mu Aye.

Now, together as friends, they look forward to raising happy and healthy children. “I cannot wait to meet my child. Whether a boy or a girl, I feel very pleased, and all I hope is he or she will be born healthy,” says Mu Aye.

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Win Than shares her own experience of becoming a mother with her new friend. “I felt so proud when I first saw my baby’s face. I’m proud that I am a mother, and she is the greatest gift in my life,” she says.

“My baby having good health is like I won the best prize of my life,” says Win Than.

For Apatcha, who has seen the powerful impact of Mums and Babies throughout the region, her message is one of heartfelt thanks. “I want to thank the donors who helped. I want to tell them that their support has helped many lives to be born.”

If you want to give the gift of hope and support to mums and babies just like Mu Aye and Win Than, you can give a Start of Life Bundle Gift of Compassion today! For just $260, this life changing gift will provide an expectant mum with crucial ante and post-natal care to ensure a safe delivery, giving both mum and baby the best possible start to life.

Words by Helen Holder, with field reporting by Piyamary Shinoda.