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Pockets of hope in Liberia

I looked out of my hotel window this morning and gazed out to sea looking at the rolling surf crashing onto the white sand beach lined with palm trees. For a moment I was a million miles away from all the tragic stories I’ve been hearing over the last few days.

I’m in Liberia to interview women, fathers and children who are the reality behind the shocking statistics of newborn and maternal mortality.  I’m so used to reeling off statistics about Liberia, one in nine children die before they reach their fifth birthday, mother’s have a one in twelve chance of dying during child birth, there’s only 52 trained doctors in the country. The list of shocking statistics goes on.

But knowing all of this doesn’t prepare me for sitting with a mother whilst she breaks down in tears as she tells me that five of her children died from malaria, or from seeing the pain and loneliness in a father’s eyes as he tells me his decision to give up his four children after his wife died in childbirth, because he felt he couldn’t manage to give them a good life on his own.

Sitting in the middle of rural Liberia, hearing sad story after sad story of tragic loss brings home the enormity of the challenge we’ve set ourselves – to get the world’s leaders to keep their promise to reduce newborn and child mortality by two thirds.

I’ve seen small pockets of hope where agencies like us are making inroads but it starkly shows why we have to get everyone involved in this campaign to make the changes happen now. I don’t want to have to face another women tearfully telling me her child has died from a treatable disease tomorrow let alone in 2015.

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