Like most new mothers, Canberra journalist Emma Macdonald found her hospital room filling up with flowers both times she gave birth.
Like most new mothers, she either tossed the dying ones, or gave the living ones to the nurses when it was time to go home. Who can carry bunches of flowers out the hospital door when they are balancing their priceless newborn in an unwieldy baby capsule?
So shortly after her second child arrived safely in the world, Emma joined a quest to replace floral arrangements in hospital rooms with donations to life-saving health programs that will help mothers survive childbirth in countries where birth can often mean death.
Did you know that one woman dies from complications of childbirth every two minutes somewhere in the world?
Ninety-eight percent of these deaths occur in developing countries and the vast majority are preventable with the most simple interventions.
Emma came to the cause of maternal health after speaking with her obstetrician Professor Steve Robson about her own safe and joyous childbirth experiences.
Professor Robson explained the vastly different outcomes for mothers giving birth in countries across Africa and the Pacific – where as many as one in 20 can be expected to die. Meanwhile, Professor Robson would watch hospital maternity wards fill with flowers each day and wondered whether there was a better way to celebrate a birth.
In a spur of the moment decision, Professor Robson and Emma decided they’d put their respective skills to the task of setting up a charity which would channel the money normally spent on flowers, to help save other mothers. Send Hope Not Flowers was born.
In three years and with the help of small and dedicated Canberra team, Send Hope has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a variety of safe birth programs across Papua New Guinea, remote parts of Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
These include training midwives and local village birth attendants, providing emergency obstetric equipment, upgrading maternity hospitals and funding upgraded medical manuals. All programs are small but targeted – aimed at providing long-term, sustainable and empowering assistance for women.