Who are VSO and what do they do?

Since 1958, VSO has been bringing people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and ultimately changes lives to make the world a fairer place. They recruit skilled volunteers from all over the world, and from all sectors of society, from midwives and doctors to teachers and parliamentarians to work to help educate, improve health and livelihoods and ultimately to fight poverty in developing countries. Most interestingly over 30% of their  people come from within the country of their placement and they also send increasing numbers of people from one developing country to another

Key VSO stats:

In the past year:

  • VSO has worked with over 400 local partners to make a difference in 24 countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
  • VSO Volunteers trained nearly 17,000 medical staff in 15 countries, which benefited 984,000 people.
  • VSO mobilised 8,585 British and international youth volunteers around the globe as part of International Citizen Service (ICS) – the international development programme for 18 to 25 year olds, funded by the UK government. Projects include building latrines and eco stoves, raising awareness about sexual health and improving youth employability skills.

First Breath Statistics:

  • One million babies died on their first day of life in 2012. That’s one baby every 34 seconds. This is from the Save the Children report Ending Newborn Deaths released in 2014.
  • In Uganda, the neonatal mortality rate is 10 times higher than in the UK. This is according to World Health Organisation statistics.
  • In Uganda only 58% of women have a skilled health worker present when giving birth. This from the Save the Children report Ending Newborn Deaths released in 2014.

What is the First Breath appeal?

Worldwide, a newborn baby dies every 34 seconds due to illness or birth complications. In some cases babies tragically die before they’ve even taken their first breath. The medical treatment needed is often very basic and with the right medical training and treatment, almost all of them could be saved.

Money raised by the First Breath campaign will be put towards providing mothers with better access to simple things like adequate medical treatment during labour,  properly trained healthcare professionals as well access to basic neonatal equipment such as resuscitators

Racheal’s Story

Tragically, Andrew’s mother Racheal had already lost her first four babies. When Andrew was born, she waited eagerly to hear his first cry, but there was only a dreadful silence. The midwife quickly realised that Andrew was suffocating. Together, she and a volunteer doctor began using a baby resuscitator. After ten tense minutes, the newborn started breathing and as he was placed in her arms, Racheal had never felt so happy.

A donation of £50 to the appeal would pay for a resuscitator to save other babies, like Andrew, born with breathing difficulties.

How can people help support the campaign?

Help VSO to share the First Breath campaign message by posting a picture of yourself on one of your social channels (Facebook Twitter or Instagram) as a small baby using the hashtag #FirstBreath and then tag  friends encouraging them to do the same, including the link to the appeal page.

The picture could be one in hospital with your mother or coming home from the hospital for the first time, or any picture of you as a small baby. The hope is that through this action we start a trend that allows as many people as possible to see the campaign and through that, for VSO to save as many tiny lives as possible through our work. Equally you could share a baby photo that’s significant to you.

VSO will be publishing a variety of content in the lead up to Christmas, including blog posts, case studies and an exciting weekly update live from a hospital in Uganda. You can see the first one here.

Click here for more information.