March for Mothers: multi-faith action for maternal health
“Without women and mothers, humanity would be dead.”
“Mothers give birth to us, nurture us and they should be valued for that.”
These were the powerful words being delivered by Uncle Fauja Singh – special guest at our first ever Faiths Act multi-faith ‘March for Mothers’.
Last Saturday, 65 ardent supporters of Faiths Act’s work at Health Poverty Action descended on Greenwich Park to take part in our 5K fundraising walk.
It was an inspiring day of interfaith social action as just over £7000 has been raised to support Health Poverty Action’s vital maternal health work in Sierra Leone and Burma.
The weather may not have been on our side with plenty of rain but spirits were high and nothing was going to detract from our collective passion for safeguarding the rights of maternal health.
It is a human rights tragedy that 340,000 women die each year in pregnancy and childbirth with maternal mortality rates as high as 1 in 8 women in countries such as Sierra Leone. We chose to set the walk at 5K because, astonishingly, that is the average distance mothers must walk in the world’s poorest countries just to give birth or seek medical treatment.
We believe faith communities play a crucial role in the fight against poverty and called upon them to unite through a common value of service and social action for a common good. It was most encouraging to have participants from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish, Christian and Baha’i backgrounds.
The morning started with a fantastic motivational talk from Uncle Fauja Singh who is not only a member of the Sikh community but also the world’s oldest marathon runner at 100 years old!
Uncle shared how his Sikh faith inspires him in running and walking staggering distances for charitable causes as well as his passion for maternal health rights.
After a welcome from the Mayor of Greenwich, Uncle Fauja and his trainer led the much needed warm up session in preparation for our walk and then we were off.
It’s fair to say Catherine and I had some issues keeping up with Uncle Fauja – his brisk walking left us running behind him just to keep up!
The walk provided a wonderful occasion for communities to mingle, chat and get to know each other better. We overheard conversations sharing insights of the importance of mothers in different faiths as well as new connections and relationships being forged which was most encouraging.
We had faith leaders, community leaders, mothers with babies in push chairs, dads, children, students as well as a centenarian taking part! It was this camaraderie which led to the lively and inspiring atmosphere at the 5K walk despite all the rain.
At the end, we huddled together to celebrate our achievements in raising awareness as well as funds to impact the lives of mothers worldwide. To put the success of our supporters in perspective – they have collectively raised enough funds to train 7 midwives in life-saving medical skills. A true example of faith as a force for good. We are hugely grateful for all their efforts.
Uncle Fauja's words had left a lasting impression on all of us that day: “I enjoy being part of the promoting of mother's needs everywhere - after all you only ever get the one mother.”
If you would like to support ‘March for Mothers’ please visit our online donations page at www.justgiving.com/FellowsProjects