We are so very blessed in Canada. When we get pregnant, there is nursery-planning to be done, websites to study and prenatal vitamins to consume. This magical time isn’t so exciting in other parts of the world. We are very much the exception and not the norm. In countries like Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines and Rwanda, the outcomes of pregnancy can look very different. Every day, more than 800 women die from pregnancy or child-birth related complications in developing countries.

The most significant causes of maternal and child mortality are high rates of acute and chronic malnutrition of mothers and children. If babies don’t receive enough nutrition within the first 1,000 days of life, the brain does not develop properly and this is irreversible.

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) is a common acronyms used in discussions on global health, yet many of us have never heard of it. I hadn’t. This Mother’s Day, ADRA Canada is calling on Canadians to show their heart for maternal health by helping to raise much-needed awareness.

“Pregnancy is a time for full hearts and joy, but because of poor maternal health in developing countries and remote communities, it often ends in heartbreak,” says James Astleford, Executive Director of ADRA Canada.

heart4maternalhealthCan you imagine, as a mother, knowing that you are not consuming enough nutritious food to keep your newborn baby alive? The thought. I would rather be burned alive than be in that situation, and yet the inevitable deaths are happening 800 times per day. Per day. Kindof makes food waste throughout Canada much worse, doesn’t it? What is so shocking to me is that I didn’t know this statistic and had never heard the MNCH acronym. Probably because it is hard to even move when you know the truth.

So what can we do? First, let’s tell people about this. Please join me during the month of May in sharing an image – or ten – of your hands forming a heart over your belly in order to tell people about this horrific truth. Use the hashtag #Heart4MaternalHealth and let us raise awareness together.

Then, when you have a gift to buy, make the recipient feel even better by purchasing a gift that works double duty. ADRA Canada has amazing merchandise like seeds, water pumps and mosquito nets and the profits support their crucial programs.

Volunteering is always an incredible way to help, and getting your kids involved will create healthy cycles of activism for our world.

Finally, donations are always good. In February 2016, ADRA Canada was selected as one of the top recipients of Partnership for Strengthening Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PSMNCH) funding for the EMBRACE program. EMBRACE (Enhancing Maternal, Child and Newborn Health in Remote Areas through Revitalized Health Care and Community Engagement) aims to improve and save the lives of mothers and children in extremely vulnerable areas of Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines and Rwanda by improving access to quality health services and enhancing nutrition.

EMBRACE is expected to contribute directly to the improved health of approximately 100,000 people, including approximately 33,000 children.

Please visit HeartForMaternalHealth.ca to follow ADRA Canada’s journey and learn more about the EMBRACE project.

Some of the innovations that are funded by EMBRACE include:

Construction & Renovation

  • 9 waiting/delivery rooms
  • 1 health centre
  • 1 maternity ward
  • 4 maternity waiting homes close to health facilities to be built in the Philippines for women living long distances from health centres
  • 800 household latrines to be built in Rwanda
  • 15 health centres to be equipped in Cambodia


  • Establishing community based health transport systems
  • 1 ambulance provided in a remote community in Rwanda
  • Establishing community savings & loans groups for emergency transportation expenses


  • Providing training for health care workers and community volunteers
  • Intensive training for village-level midwives in Myanmar
  • Educating adolescents on their sexual reproductive health and rights
  • Training community members on proper nutrition for children and pregnant women


  • Hosting cooking demonstrations promoting nutritious, locally available ingredients and energy-efficient cooking methods
  • Developing environmentally sustainable kitchen gardens in local households
  • Distribution of water filters

Let’s not allow these vulnerable moms and babies to perish when we can act right now to change the story.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by ADRA Canada. All opinions are my own.