MAR is a Brussels-based non-profit founded by a group of people determined to make a difference in t...
I launched Mothers at Risk in 2009 with a group of exceptional and committed women moved into action by the terrifying fact that a woman died every minute somewhere in the world from pregnancy and delivery complications. We had become mothers recently and we felt a deep sense of solidarity with fellow mothers living in different circumstances than ours.
In my own experience, I suffered complications during the birth of my first child and I was taken aback both by how fortunate I was to have such an excellent team – obstetrician, midwives, nurses – and just how differently my son and I would have fared had we been in another part of the world where such care is not available.
Shortly after this experience, I had the privilege of working briefly with Afghan women, and almost all of them mentioned sisters, daughters, friends or neighbors who had not survived childbirth and precious babies lost at birth or as infants. What struck me most deeply was the resignation with which these women had come to accept these circumstances as a fact of life.
Mothers at Risk was born from the drive to change the odds of dying in childbirth, even if for a single woman and baby. Our initiative grew to become a vibrant network of people with a variety of skills, backgrounds, talents and resources, all of us volunteers. In our first years of existence we have supported projects to bring prenatal care and safe delivery to women in Tanzania, Haiti, Kenya and Nicaragua. We have invested in the education of girls so they will grow to be healthier mothers in Egypt. And we support women who face motherhood alone, in extreme conditions of social, economic and emotional vulnerability, in Morocco and in Brussels.
Today, as we look towards the next years for Mothers at Risk, we are turning our attention intentionally to a surprisingly neglected population: urban poor mothers and babies. The world is rapidly urbanizing and as cities become more populated, they are also becoming increasingly inequitable. Ensuring access to safe, quality and respectful childbirth is a critical urban health challenge, one that MAR is deeply committed to helping tackle.