Canadian Anglicans support maternal, newborn & child health in Africa & Canada

15 November 2016

Youth members of community theatre educate peers on avoiding teen pregnancy at Meconta secondary school in Mozambique © Richard Librock

The Diocese of Toronto has made a $500,000 donation to Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) in support of maternal, newborn and child health in Africa and indigenous communities in Canada.

The donation follows a diocese-led campaign called ‘Our Faith – Our Hope’, which raised money to share resources and put the gospel into action.

The grant will help fund PWRDF’s All Mothers and Children Count programme, which seeks to reduce illness and death among women of reproductive age, newborns and children under the age of five in rural villages in Burundi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Through its partnerships in Africa, PWRDF (with funding from the government of Canada) will purchase medical equipment for health clinics and maternity wards, construct and refurbish health clinics and nurses’ houses, and construct wells to provide clean water to communities affected by water-borne diseases.

In Canada, PWRDF will work with indigenous health organisations to share best practices about maternal health and to support training initiatives for midwives to meet the particular needs of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis women.

A portion of the diocese’s gift will also fund PWRDF’s Women Empowerment Project, a micro-finance programme that fights poverty by providing access to banking services to low-income women in northern Mozambique, through its partner COCAMO. Through this project, 300 women will be able to open bank accounts and ask for loans to set up small businesses – something they are not able to do with the way banking services in Mozambique are currently set up.

Archbishop Colin Johnson, bishop of Toronto, said, “I am delighted that we as a diocese are supporting this work with women and children. In Africa, it is the church that has the trusted responsibility for medical and social support of vulnerable people to a degree unknown here. In the North, the needs of families are enormous. We committed a tithe of the Our Faith-Our Hope campaign to share the great resources we have been given to supporting others. This is such great ministry and good news in action.”

In order to build awareness of its maternal health and empowerment programs in Africa, PWRDF also plans to send a delegation to the Diocese of Masasi in Tanzania in May 2017. The delegation will meet and learn from staff in the Diocese of Masasi and people in the communities where the program is running.  When they return to Canada, they will share their learnings and experiences.

Will Postma, executive director of PWRDF, has thanked the people of the diocese for their generosity and praised the Our Faith-Our Hope campaign.

He said, “The fact that faith-inspired giving is translated into really important deeds of mercy and compassion where the needs are highest – that says a lot. It’s very encouraging. Our work is bringing maternal and child mortality rates down and we are making a difference.”

PWRDF has been part of the Anglican Alliance family since its inception. The Anglican Alliance welcomes this initiative and is committed to sharing learning and expertise across the Communion on maternal and child health and other key areas of the Sustainable Development Goals.

[Adapted from post from PWRDF]