A big thank you from Sierra Leone

When knitters send us lovingly hand knitted clothes for children we always try to make sure that we pass them on to a charity where we are sure that they will reach the intended recipients and that they will do maximum good. Susie Jenner, one of our staff members recently went on a visit to Sierra Leone and took a bag full of knitted clothes with her. Susie learned first hand how important these gifts are – in more than one way.

This is Susie’s report:

Sierra Leone, in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world, after a decade of civil war. In 2009, the UN declared it the most dangerous place in the world to give birth, with 1 in 8 women dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

In March, we saw first-hand the challenges the doctors in hospitals across the country face in their attempts to keep more women alive. One problem is that women in Sierra Leone traditionally give birth at home, so when complications arise, they can’t always reach the hospital in time.  Dr Virginia George, at Lumley government hospital in Freetown, has realised that an incentive can help. At her request, we delivered piles of knitted baby clothes, donated to charity through Knit for Peace.  They were received with delight.  Some were given out straight away to the new mothers at the hospital, and the rest were made into bundles to use to encourage other women to attend antenatal checkups.

The baby clothes had already been proven to work.  Dr George showed us statistics for visits, which reduced significantly when they ran out of the bundles they were previously given. On a return visit to Lumley Hospital a few days later, we were told about a woman who had given birth on the hospital steps the previous day.  She had just heard about the baby clothes we’d brought, and came to collect her bundle!

As you can see, this hospital needs a constant supply of baby clothes to support the work of the dedicated staff and to encourage mothers to seek the help that s now available to them. We are always delighted to receive hand knitted items addressed to:

Jane Lithgow
Knit for Peace Project Manager
Charities Advisory Trust
Radius Works
Back Lane
London NW3 1HL

One final sobering note – the hospital asked us to let you know that contrary to what you might think, they need clothes to fit average sized newborns, the sad truth being that of course, low birth weight and premature babies are born, but their chances of survival are not good currently.