The first year of life is critical for a child. In developing countries, many children don’t even make it past their first month in the world. Your support can make a life-changing difference for mums and babies living in poverty by giving them the best start to life.

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Melanie, an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian based in Melbourne, first started by sponsoring a child with Compassion 15 years ago. Now through her business, she funds an entire Mums and Babies Project in Mbulu, Tanzania. Her support is making a significant impact in the lives of vulnerable mothers and their babies.

The birth of a baby is a time of great joy, but also one that can be full of uncertainty, complications and new challenges. Quality care during pregnancy, birth and through the first year of life are critical. For women and their babies living in poverty, the reality is that the level of care and education needed is often inadequate to ensure the best outcomes.

In 2019, 2.4 million babies passed away within their first month of life, with the vast majority of deaths taking place in low and middle-income countries. Likewise, almost 300,000 women died during and following childbirth in 2017, with 94 per cent of deaths occurring in the developing world. According to the World Health Organisation, most of these could have been prevented with a higher quality of care and education.

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Through generous supporters like Melanie, Compassion works with mums and babies to prevent premature death, secure good health and enable positive development for babies and their caregivers. Melanie specialises in fertility, pregnancy and postpartum nutrition, and runs an organisation that trains health care professionals in early life nutrition. She understands why quality care is so important for mothers and babies.

“Working with pregnant and postpartum mums in Australia, I know the powerful difference that great healthcare and nutrition make during this phase of life. We call it the First Thousand Days (pre-conception until the age of three). This is when genes are programmed, the brain is wired and the immune system sets to determine an individual's future health, learning abilities and employment potential,” says Melanie.

“Focusing on the First Thousand Days is essential for breaking the cycle of poverty, so I believe that it's vital to support well run projects making a difference for mums and their babies.”

Melanie was able to travel to see the work in Mbulu firsthand and found it inspirational.

“Having seen the project first-hand, I was blown away by how holistic it is. The project taught mums which foods were important, taught them how to prepare nutritious and hygienic meals for their families, and even assisted them to gain employment or commence a business to purchase the necessities they needed,” says Melanie. “The project also provides medical care, spiritual care, emotional care and is a great social network for isolated mums.”

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Through the Mums and Babies program, mothers receive regular home-based care before and after birth, classes on how to take care of their babies, medical treatment as needed and emotional and spiritual support. This holistic approach to care is central to Compassion’s model of development. Children that start with the Mums and Babies program often go on to register with the Child Sponsorship Program where they continue to receive this level of comprehensive support and care. As Melanie discovered, holistic child development can start even before a child is born and ensures that children are cared for spiritually, socio-emotionally, physically and economically.

Melanie is into her fifth year of funding the work in Mbulu, and at the end of the 2022 financial year this Mums and Babies project will no longer need Compassion’s support. The local church will be able to serve the needs of the mums and babies in their community, with the addition of increased health services to the area. While this is cause for celebration, Melanie says it’s only the beginning, and she hopes to fund more projects in 2022.

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Through Mums and Babies, you can help provide the support needed for the best start to life.

In the 2021 financial year alone, your generosity helped enable our local church partners to care for over 24,000 babies and their caregivers across 1,662 projects.

If you want to make a difference in the lives of mothers and their babies in the developing world, you can donate to Mums and Babies or fund an entire Mums and Babies project.

If you instead have a passion for clean water, safe infrastructure or vocational training, you can give to one of our other Critical Needs.


You can also read more stories of how the Mums and Babies program is impacting the lives of mothers and their children in the developing world.

Want to see in detail the impact your support can have? Read our 2021 Annual Impact Report and discover how your generosity and advocacy can release children from poverty in Jesus' name.

Words by Andrew Barker and Sidhara Udalagama