As your birth may be fast approaching, you might be getting palpitations (I'm not talking about contractions!) about whether the nursery will be done in time, if you've picked the best name for your baby, what labor might be like, how you'll manage money while on maternity leave, or even whether you'll be passed up for a promotion while you're at home taking care of your newborn. It can be super-stressful just thinking about it!
But now imagine living in a developing country where just being pregnant is risky. Globally, 800 women die each day during pregnancy and childbirth, and 99 percent of all maternal deaths are in developing countries. (Pause a minute to let that sink in.) Less than half of pregnant women in developing countries visit a doctor, midwife, or trained birth professional during their pregnancy or childbirth because it's just too expensive. But for the amount you spend on your weekly coffee fix, you can change that.
Kangu—a non-profit organization that crowdfunds safe births for women in underserviced communities in India, Nepal and Uganda (and which will soon expand to parts of Latin America)—gives you an opportunity to donate as little as $10 towards a woman's birth in a clean, safe facility as well as prenatal and postnatal care.
The idea for the organization came to founder Casey Santiago, a mom of two, when she was in labor with her first son. "I imagined all the women around the world laboring at the same time," she says. "It was a very intense feeling—I really felt like we were all in it together, helping each other through the contractions and comforting each other in between them."
After giving birth, savoring every minute with her son in her arms, she was also haunted by the knowledge that so many women—those mamas that she had imagined laboring with—didn't have access to the services that she did, and might die as a result. "I knew that I had to find a way to connect with those women and direct resources their way," she says. "And so, Kangu was born."
Sadly, most of these deaths are completely preventable, she says. "Many women deliver without proper lighting in unclean environments, with an unprepared family member. The majority of maternal deaths come from excessive bleeding, infection, and high-blood pressure, all of which can be prevented with access to a clean birthing place and a skilled helper by your side."
To me, though, one of the coolest parts of Kangu is that, instead of just giving to a faceless charity, Kangu allows you to virtually meet the pregnant women who are in need of your help, by giving you their country of origin, names, photos, and stories about their lives and hopes for their babies. While you can give year round, this Mother's Day, when you give a donation to a mom in need, Kangu will also send an electronic Mother's Day card to the mama you love, telling her you've given your present in her honor. And the gift keeps giving! After your sponsored mom gives birth, "you get updates on the mama and baby, often with a photo," says Casey, so you can see "how you've made an impact on the woman's life and her baby. You've become a part of someone else's birth story—which is very moving."
Image of flowers courtesy of Shutterstock.