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Mothers of Africa

Sewing: both for and with women, in Africa

15 July 2014

A report by Cerys Richards

In the developing world many women sadly die from puerperal sepsis or ‘childbed fever’.
This is a condition that results from an infection of the female genital tract contracted
during or following childbirth or miscarriage.

The frequency of it’s occurrence is greater in the developing world as new mums who live
in poverty are unable to buy clean sanitary pads/towels from their local store. Instead they
use whatever is available free to them – normally old rags and occasionally leaves. The
lack of this basic sanitary item means that mums in developing world countries are at
higher risk of infections and complications following delivery of their babies. Some of which
can result in death.

Two ‘Mothers of Africa’ volunteers and keen sewers are helping to reduce the chances of
this serious condition occurring. Over the last year 2 sewers (Mrs Pauline Richards
(pictured) and Mrs Janice Ellis) have worked hard to produce many ‘sanitary packs’ that
have been taken out to rural communities in Liberia and Zambia. The packs include 5
handmade sanitary towels (these are designed to be easily washable and re-usable), a
flannel and a soap all neatly contained in a material bag.

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The packs have been very greatly received by local women who have just delivered their
babies, to date we have been able to donate 48 to Liberia and to 16 Zambia.

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A fantastic Mothers of Africa project in Zambia will take the idea further and hopefully
enable local women to continue to make the packs themselves. As part of the recent
Zambia trip Mothers of Africa volunteers took 3 sewing machines (donated by Janome) to
a community centre at Shiyala village. Here artists Sue Hunt and Maggie Cullinane spent
time teaching local women in the village how to make the packs.

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Thank you to all the fantastic Mothers of Africa volunteers who have helped put together
these packs (our 2 fab sewers and those who have donated flannels, soap and materials).
If you would like to get involved in sewing more of these life saving packs or would like to
donate materials then please email sewingforafrica@yahoo.co.uk!

Thank you!