Christian Aid Week 2019

Tenneh’s story – giving birth in Sierra Leone

Every year Christian Aid Week opens up for us the challenges facing different parts of the world – one of the ways in which we benefit as well as the people helped by what we collect. This time we learn about Sierra Leone, one of the most dangerous places in the world to have a baby. We meet Tenneh and her happy, healthy baby Ansumana. But Tenneh loved and lost another baby before Ansumana’s birth.

When Tenneh’s labour started during her first pregnancy, there was no health centre in the village. Her mum took her to a traditional birth attendant, who had had little medical training. For the two days of her labour Tenneh was in agony, and bleeding heavily. The baby wouldn’t breastfeed and tragically died when he was three months old.

But new hope followed. Christian Aid, with its local partner RADA (Rehabilitation and Development Agency), saw how difficult the situation in Sawula village was. RADA worked to help vulnerable women access healthcare and improve hygiene, and a small health centre was provided. So when Tenneh was pregnant a second time, things had changed. This time, she had Nurse Judith by her side. With expert care, Judith helped Tenneh deliver her baby safely.

Many ways to get involved …

You are invited to a service of celebration at the United Church on Sun 12 May at 6.30 pm. Our speaker will be Claire Aston, Head of Strategic Communications at Christian Aid. It is a great start to the week, whether you are collecting door-to-door or supporting the work with prayer and donations. Claire has past links with Winchester which will be revealed on the night!

Before the week formally starts, on the morning of Sat 11 May, there is to be a Big Bike to Brekkie at the cathedral. If you are a biker you can get sponsors to cover your cycle ride to the cathedral, and breakfast will be provided in the refectory 9.30–10.45. If you don’t want to get sponsored you are still welcome to cycle down: breakfast is £5 plus a further donation of your choice. In either case you need to register to help catering arrangements; 023 8070 6969 or

Sierra Leone has been affected by a series of disasters in recent years; the one we may remember most vividly is the terrible Ebola outbreak in 2013–16. The country was helped by the International Monetary Fund, but at the expense of a crippling debt. At 11 o’clock that morning a mass loop of cycles will form in front of the cathedral ringing their bells, calling on the IMF to drop the Ebola debt.

Last year we raised over £24,800 for Christian Aid in Winchester and District, and nearly £4,400 of that came from this parish and area. How worthwhile is that?

Rosemary Dunhill, Winchester and District Christian Aid Week Co-ordinator