The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has been awarded a 2014 Civil Society Effectiveness Award for a program that helps its partners provide bicycle and boat ambulances to remote communities in Mozambique, Burundi and Bangladesh.
The award was presented by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, a coalition of Canadian volunteer organizations that work to end poverty and promote social justice globally. “In presenting the award,” PWRDF executive director Adele Finney said, “CCIC noted that PWRDF connected with hard to reach rural areas.”
According to PWRDF, one of the goals of the projects is to decrease the number of maternal and child deaths by improving pregnant women’s access to health services, providing the assistance of trained health professionals at all deliveries, and accompaniment and assistance by trained health professionals during the crucial 48 hours following delivery and for 40 days after the birth. Partners in the three countries have converted bicycles into bicycle ambulances to transport pregnant women to health clinics for delivery and to transport their children in the case of emergencies.
Without the bicycle ambulances, pregnant women often had to travel on foot for an average of 20 kilometres or more. According to PWRDF, the availability of bicycle ambulances means that the rate of babies delivered in health care centres has increased by 59 per cent in Burundi, 9 per cent in Bangladesh and 29 per cent in Mozambique. As well, villages in Mozambique that have access to bicycle ambulances reported a 14 per cnet drop in maternal deaths compared to villages without bicycle ambulances.
Finney thanked Valerie Maier, PWRDF’s Ottawa diocesan representative, for “ably and convincingly” presenting project information, prepared by PWRDF staff Zaida Bastos and Christine Hills, to CCIC. “Both Valerie, in her presentation, and I, in my acceptance of the award, emphasized that PWRDF’s aim is to support vulnerable people to become agents of change in their own lives and in their communities,” Finney said. “It was people in northern Mozambique who imagined and created bicycle ambulances, and people in other countries who adapted the idea to their own context.”