Nativity – is it really all smiling cows?


It’s time for the nativity play.

Some of us give the nativity a lot of thought at Christmas, others less so, but it’s easy for us all to picture the scene something like this: Mary is smiling happily, the baby is delivered with much joy and lies cosily in a bed of straw, surrounded by friendly cows, cute five year-olds dressed as shepherds and maybe a lobster (some imaginative casting goes on at nativity plays nowadays).

The reality of giving birth in conditions like these is rather different. Mary is almost alone, with only a carpenter and some sheep for help – nobody who knows anything about childbirth. She knows women can die having babies. It’s unhygienic in that stable and there probably isn’t even any clean water to wash the baby in. It’s not very cosy – in fact, it’s dangerous.

Women still give birth like this in many rural places around the world. For the women we work with in Malawi, it’s the norm. The nearest clinic or hospital may be 20 miles away and their only mode of transport is walking, so there’s little choice but to give birth at home where conditions are basic.

They are likely to know other women or babies who have died giving birth (women there are 60 times more likely to die than women in the UK), but without any medical knowledge on hand, there’s nothing that can be done if complications arise.

It’s so easy to prevent these tragedies. Simple advice from a Mother Buddy and access to transport can turn everything around.

“[My Mother Buddy] has assisted me in preparing for the delivery… without her intervention I would not have known about these things, I would have probably delivered on the way to hospital or at home. I delivered at hospital because of her advice.” – a new mother, Malawi.

Noel and Tikhani (800x489)

Let’s write some good nativity stories this Christmas! You can join in by sending somebody a different kind of Christmas present that helps pay for a safe delivery in Malawi. For £15, your friend or family member receives a lovely hand-made nativity decoration and a personalised card, and £10 will be spent in Malawi.

That small donation will pay for the cost of transport to the nearest clinic or hospital (probably on a hardy motorbike-taxi), and for the equipment that a woman needs to take with her when she’s preparing to give birth – things like clean cloths, basins and baby supplies that we would expect the clinic to lay on for us in the UK!

With the wheels to get there and the equipment needed, an expectant mum can give birth safely, surrounded by medical professionals who will make sure that mum and baby are fit and well before they’re sent home.

Would you bring a smile to a friend or family member on Christmas day, and unleash some joy for a family in Malawi too? Click here to check out our special Christmas presents and help to write some more good nativity stories!

Thanks, have a great Christmas, and enjoy that nativity play!

Photo: Peter C, reproduced under Creative Commons.

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