Two Lower Sixth Formers, who vehemently believe that every child born should grow up with a mother figure, are at the helm of a fundraising campaign that aims to fight maternal mortality in South Sudan.
James Cutler and Harry Hine came up with the idea after attending the Ready2Lead Conference, run by Mr Everitt, and were inspired to enter the Global Social Leaders Global Goals Competition. The competition challenges students around the world to engage with the United Nation’s sustainable development goals and to implement them in their own way.
After considering ‘Clean water and sanitation’ as a focus, they changed tack when they learned about high mortality rates and in particular maternal mortality rates, in third world countries. They quickly decided that this was something they both felt strongly about and believed that they could make a sizable impact with a very simple solution.
Harry explained, “Having a happy and privileged upbringing and a healthcare system that is often taken for granted, we felt it necessary to step outside of this lifestyle and help others. Every child should have a mother figure for a chance at a happy upbringing.”
The boys chose South Sudan as the country to focus on, given that it currently has the highest maternal mortality rate of any country in the world, with an estimated 789 deaths per 100,000 live births.
The boys, who galvanised the support of classmates, named their project ‘DROP’, its primary aim being to provide better healthcare for women to help prevent maternal mortality surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. By providing mothers with packages they hope to enable more sterile births to help reduce the number of maternal deaths as a result of infection in birth. The packages contain several hygiene products, including gloves, soap, biodegradable bowls, medical gloves and towels.
As a side pledge, all items will be either biodegradable or reusable, in order to make sure the project does not harm the local environment. Additionally, the packages are being assembled in South Sudan to help the local economy which adds to the sustainability goal for the project.
To help bring their idea to fruition (the hardest part of having a really good idea), the boys contacted Angela Gorman MBE, CEO of the charity Life for African Mothers (LFAM). Angela was able to put the boys in touch with a representative in South Sudan, and James and Harry were invited to attend a Zoom call that is run as a training programme for midwives in Sierra Leone.
James told us, “It was an incredible experience for both of us and provided an insight into the amazing work that charities across the world do and have been continuing to do, despite the pandemic. Following on from these meetings and conversations, we were able to establish which medical items would be best for us to include in our boxes and we were able to begin to investigate how to transport our boxes to South Sudan.”
The boys have wasted no time, and packages have already been distributed to three pregnant mothers this week. The mother dressed in orange is called Mary Achan, who is in her second trimester. The other two women photographed are called Susan and Abuk Garang.
Mary said, “I really appreciate the support from the DROP team. I have been incredibly worried about getting these items, because of the high cost on the market. Thank you, James and Harry.” (Quote slightly revised to improve the English)
Funding the project has proved to be a challenge too However, with the help of Ms Spyropoulos, LFAM was been chosen as one of the school’s designated charities, which means that charity events such as mufti days will help raise money for their project.
Both boys are committed to carry on this project for as long as possible whilst at school.
James said, “We may offer other boys at the school the chance to run it once we have left school, if there is interest, or we may carry it on ourselves whilst we are at university. Either way, we do not want this to be a one-off as we want to make a real impact and help contribute to the life-changing work in sub-Saharan Africa being carried out by these charities every day.”
“We have both really enjoyed working on it and we look forward to seeing it progress in the future. In an all-boys school such as ours, it is important that we think of maternal mortality and try to provide help and care to those in need of it when we can. Harry and I are simply trying to make a small difference that will contribute to this.”
If you would like to donate to DROP you can do so here.