Christian Aid Week gets underway

Monday May 13th 2019

Dean Stephen Forde and Christian Aid Chief Executive Rosamund Bennett launch Christian Aid Week 2019 at St Anne’s Cathedral.

Rosamond Bennett, Chief Executive of Christian Aid Ireland, joined the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, to launch Christian Aid Week 2019 at Belfast Cathedral on May 10.

Christian Aid Week runs from May 12-18, and this year, the charity is focusing on Sierra Leone, a country about the size of Ireland, lying on the west coast of Africa.

Scarred by a long and bloody civil war (1991-2002), and the worst Ebola outbreak in history (2014-2016), Sierra Leone is now battling to rebuild healthcare. People hope to bring their country from the painful shadow of death, to a new era of health and life.

But it is the most dangerous country in the world to give birth. 

  • Ten women die EVERY DAY giving birth.
  • One in nine children don’t reach their 5th
  • 10% of healthcare workers died during the Ebola crisis.

Christian Aid outlined a number of reasons why giving birth is so dangerous in Sierra Leone:-

  • Distance to the health centre. If there’s no health clinic in their village, women in labour have to wait up to eight hours before the ambulance arrives. Some women travel to hospital on the back of a motorbike. The poorest women have no choice but to set out on foot, often walking for hours. 
  • A lack of trained healthcare workers means that many women are left to give birth with traditional birth attendants who have very little medical training and are not equipped to deal with serious emergencies.
  • Inadequate health centres. Even if a woman has a health centre in her village, it is likely to be poorly equipped, with not enough drugs available, not enough delivery beds, and no light for the nurse to deliver a baby at night.
  • From May to December, it’s hungry season. There isn’t enough food, and most families eat just one meal a day. This means that many pregnant women often don’t have the strength to give birth.

Rosamond Bennett said: We are working through our partners in rural communities to rebuild and refurbish run-down health centres, to install solar lighting, provide delivery beds and above all to ensure trained nursing staff are available so the whole community can benefit from improved healthcare.”

Speaking at the launch of the Christian Aid Week Appeal, Dean Forde said:

“We recognise that issues around pregnancy and loss affect families here, too. The Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Belfast Cathedral is home to the ‘Remember our Child’ Books of Remembrance. These books hold the names of infants who have died in Northern Ireland in and around the time of their birth.

“They also remember the families who forever hold precious a child who was loaned for only a brief period of time.

“It is in such a place that we remember the mothers and infants of Sierra Leone, the west African country where mothers are least likely to survive childbirth.  It is the country where today and every day, ten women will die in childbirth. This year the money raised during Christian Aid Week will help our partners in Sierra Leone to improve maternity provision to make childbirth safer for mums and babies.”

Dean Stephen Forde and Christian Aid Chief Executive Rosamund Bennett launch Christian Aid Week 2019 at St Anne’s Cathedral.

Visit to download your church resources including worship materials, ideas for young people and a film featuring the very passionate and committed nurse, Judith Lassie or contact the Belfast office for additional support or information:

During Christian Aid Week, volunteers will be delivering and collecting donation envelopes across Northern Ireland to raise much-needed funds to support mums and babies.  You can also donate online at

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