Mothers and babies in rural Mozambique will get a better chance at a healthy birth, thanks to a PWRDF campaign that ran last year from May 1 until October 31, 2021. The “Light for Every Birth” project reunited PWRDF with the Mozambican health organization EHALE and California-based We Care Solar to bring solar electricity to 50 health care clinics.
The success of this project started in 2016. PWRDF was embarking on a historic four-year maternal, newborn and child health program funded by donors and the Government of Canada with a 6:1 match. The project budget was approximately $20 million, and PWRDF was responsible for raising $2.8 million through donations. The Diocese of Toronto’s Our Faith-Our Hope campaign gave a generous donation of $500,000, which was critical to kickstarting that $2.8 million.
One of the successes in year one of the program was the installation of 30 “solar suitcases” in rural health clinics in Mozambique. The hard plastic boxes open like a suitcase, they are installed on the wall of a clinic and then connected to a solar panel mounted to the roof. Bright, plentiful sunshine flows into the panel and the suitcase, powering a headlamp, a ceiling light, phone charging ports and a fetal Doppler.
Since the suitcases were installed, PWRDF’s Mozambique partners have seen a dramatic increase in healthy births during the night, and greater acceptance of going to the clinics to have a trained birth attendant present at the birth. The suitcases are still in perfect working condition. Any repairs that were required were easily made by those who had been trained in 2016.
So in 2021, when the opportunity presented itself to install more solar suitcases, the Diocese of Toronto came to the table again, this time with a grant from FaithWorks for $10,000.
Olinda Magaia, Executive Director at EHALE, joined PWRDF for a Zoom celebration of the program’s success and spoke about the excitement for the new suitcases. “People, after they see what the solar suitcases have done to other communities and their impact, they call me and say, ‘you have to protect us, you have to bring a solar suitcase to us,’” said Ms. Magaia through a translator.
As there was no government match for this program, PWRDF had to be more creative in its approach to fundraising. Many churches took up the cause, including St. John, East Orangeville, a small but mighty parish in Caledon. St. John raised enough for two suitcases. “We have a very small parish, only about 30 worshippers on average each Sunday,” says Mark Hauck, a warden and a PWRDF board member. So how did they raise $11,600?
Two factors were key, says Mr. Hauck. One, parish leadership. “Our incumbent, Archdeacon Elizabeth Hardy, is extremely organized and was behind the project from the beginning.” The other factor was having a beginning, middle and end to the campaign.
“We started in late June by deciding at the parish leadership to undertake this. We started providing information on a Bristol board display in the church and answered any questions from the parish.”
Near the middle, they invited PWRDF Executive Director Will Postma to come and speak. “We were able to gather outside, and he answered even more questions.”
Toward the end, the Orangeville newspaper picked up the story. “They published a Q&A with our priest, Archdeacon Hardy, and also invited people outside the church to give.”
In the end, the parish raised the funds through 27 gifts, two of which were anonymous.
Perhaps we can rise to this moment