I'm finally sitting down on a quiet morning to put some thoughts down. There is so much to recount as we have expanded our selling and our giving. It has been such a privilege to witness so many acts of generosity and to see the joy on children and parent's faces when they receive pajamas. I think a lot about how we can give more over time - many of the children we serve has so many needs that it is hard to know where to begin. But I go back to the ancient Greek idea that any act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. It also amazes me how important pajamas are - not only for sick children but also in their emotional resonance. The act of putting on pajamas before bed recalls for many a sense of safety, warmth, love, and the ability to be vulnerable in letting one's body rest. It is the universality of these feelings that I have seen resonate with so many in this pajama movement.
Angela Gorman, founder of an amazing organization and one of our giving partners Life For African Mothers (www.lifeforafricanmothers.org), told me of her work in providing life saving medication for pregnant and delivering mothers in Sub Saharan Africa. She and her organization also give "baby bundles" to women in clinical settings in some of the poorest regions of Africa. Angela told me the story of a young mother who rushed to get to the hospital to deliver her baby rather than deliver at home. This mother was so determined to receive her baby bundle with essentials for newborns that she made it just to the front steps of the hospital where she delivered.
This story struck me because it illustrates how something as simple as a gift of essentials to a young mother, including pajamas and diapers, is not just about receiving the items, it is about educating young mothers about newborn health and, importantly, it encourages women to deliver in safer clinical settings despite traditions that encourage home births. By offering a baby bundle, Angela and her team have increased the numbers of women delivering in hospitals and have reduced maternal mortality. Life for African Mothers is also providing life saving medications, particularly medications that help to stop hemorrhaging after birth, one of the leading causes of maternal death.
I had just been thinking about Angela's story and how we could contribute to baby bundles in some of these hospitals when I received an email from Margo Harrison, a New York based obgyn who has worked at Village Health Works in Burundi, East Africa. Margo sent me this article about the "baby boxes" that everyone who gives birth in Finland has received since the 1930s.
Women in Finland, no matter their background, also receive essentials for their babies when leaving hospitals. The idea behind this is as much about education and supplies as it is about the ideology in Finland that every child starts out on equal footing, everyone has an equal chance, and everyone is equally as valued. Margot suggested we should think about how to provide baby bundles to women at the Women's Health Pavilion that we have been working to build at Village Health Works in Burundi for safe deliveries.
In each of these cases, footed pajamas are an essential part of the baby bundle or box, as they insulate and help to regulate newborn temperature. In Sub Saharan Africa or Finland or here at home, think about this the next time you "bundle" the child in your life whether it be in jammies or blankie or beach towel. As my friend Katherine says, "these jammies look like love." And yes, indeed, they feel like love too.