June 20, 2019
By Roslyn Macgregor
This past May, shortly after Mother’s Day, the PWRDF Montreal committee co-hosted an event to raise funds and awareness about maternal health — here in Montreal and in East Africa. The event raised more than $22,000 in total, with half going to the All Mothers and Children Count project in Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi, and the other half to the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation.
The event’s success can be traced back to May 2018, when at the PWRDF Montreal meeting we began to search for a diocesan project for 2018-2019 that would unite us with a common goal to learn and to raise funds. Having focused on the Water Project with Pikangikum the previous year, we decided to go overseas and chose to focus on PWRDF’s maternal, newborn and child health program called All Mothers and Children Count. Tom Burpee, one of our members, suggested approaching the Montreal Children’s Hospital to see if we could meet and learn from each other. He set off and made a connection – which led him to the MUHC Foundation and the Birthing Centre.
Dialogue began. A small committee was formed with Kim Cavener and Véronique Salibur of the MUHC Foundation, Marie-Josée Bourassa, head of the birthing centre, Tom Burpee, Ann Cumyn and Ros Macgregor (co-chairs, PWRDF Montreal), and Edith Duterville, a retired nurse with a great deal of experience in obstetrics and other critical health areas in Montreal and overseas. And then Carol Lord joined us! Great was the excitement on both sides to create a meaningful partnership and raise funds to be equally divided between PWRDF’s AMCC program in East Africa and the MUHC Birthing Centre.
We met at the MUHC Foundation several times to plot and plan, beginning in October. By January 2019, we were meeting more frequently and in communication often by email. Our objective became, with some trepidation, to raise $10,000. Kim Cavener said it would be wonderful if we could find someone to provide matching funds. Within two days, we had a generous benefactor who was enthused by the project and she promised to match up to $10,000.
We had the full support of our Bishop Mary and incredible support from the Foundation. Our conversations led to the MUHC Foundation creating pamphlets and other advertising materials. They organized free use of the large amphitheatre for the presentation, a reception beforehand that included donated wine and other beverages, delicious finger foods, music and free hospital parking. All of the financial contributions, including ticket prices, went through the MUHC Foundation office to be divided equally when all is counted.
As Tom Burpee was in the UK, a short video of him introducing the project was screened. PWRDF Montreal had arranged for Zaida Bastos, Director of Development Partnership Program for PWRDF, to come from Toronto to present on AMCC in Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. Marie-Josée Bourassa spoke about the team and approach at the Birthing Centre and issues faced by women in Montreal, especially in critical care. A young woman shared her experience at the Birthing Centre when her baby was born prematurely. The baby was present too – healthy and happy as were her doctor and nurses.
There was a brief question period. Someone mentioned that in Montreal, a baby born at 22 weeks stands a fairly good chance of surviving – and wondered what the statistics would be in the countries covered by AMCC. The answer was pretty obvious from Zaida’s presentation. On the other hand, miracles are happening because of PWRDF’s partnerships in those countries.
All of the presentations were very moving and the atmosphere, before, during, and after was warm, joyful, and exciting. The results were more than satisfying! The partnership worked so well that all of us hope to plan another different project together in the coming year.
Our goal was to draw at least 100 people to the event, so we advertised to all churches and other religious communities, friends, relatives, colleagues, women’s groups, hospital staff, the McGill Nursing faculty and more. Happily, we reached that goal!
Originally we aimed for a March event – but realized May would work better and it was held just after Mothers’ Day. Alleluia!! So many people worked to make this happen from the first seed planted to the culmination of over $10,000 each for PWRDF and the Birthing Centre. And then our funds will be multiplied six times by the Government of Canada!
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