The Gift of a Baby Blanket

When my youngest son was a baby he received a blanket that was handmade by a neighbor. He snuggled up with that baby blanket covered in pictures of Pooh and friends for the first few years of his life. When he was a newborn, it was a soft warm blanket to wrap him up in for his first winter and as he grew it became a source of comfort for him. He needed his blanket to take a nap or there was no sleep to be had! As he got older and became more independent, he started dragging his blanket around the house with him as he played. It's no wonder that the word security is often used to describe these kinds of blankets.  As children grow older they spend more time exploring their world as they seek independence and having something that is constant {like a blanket} is comforting to them.  As a mom, it was nice to know that all he really needed to feel safe, warm and cared for was his Pooh bear blankie and his mama.  I want to share a few stories with you today about a mother in Uganda and a mother in Zambia who received blankets as a gift for their newborns just like I received a blanket for my son.





Uganda

“A child should not be exposed to the cold; it should be kept warm always.” These are the words of wisdom that 34-year-old Margaret Ayo, a teacher and mother of seven, recites to every mother with a child under the age of five.

Margaret is nursing her nine-month-old daughter, Esther, who is sick with pneumonia. Esther has been sick for two weeks, having spent one week in the hospital.


Photo: ©2013 World Vision/photo by Sylvia Nabanoba

Apart from the medication that Esther is receiving, something else unexpected is supporting her recovery. This is a baby blanket, or swaddling blanket, that has become one of Margaret’s treasured possessions.

“Whenever it gets cold, I wrap her in it so that she feels warm. Even after bathing her I put it around her so that the cold does not get through to her,” Margaret says.

She explains that the nurse at the hospital told her that although pneumonia is caused by bacteria, it is exacerbated by exposure to the cold. She explains that it has been really cold lately because of the rainy season. Having this blanket gives Margaret the feeling that she is able to help her child in her recovery.

In a district where most of the people are low income earners and can only afford the basics of life, it goes without saying that clothing, particularly warm clothes, are a luxury.

Recognizing this need, World Vision Uganda distributed 138 baby blankets that were received as a Gifts-in-Kind {product} donation, and distributed many of them to mothers just like Margaret.



Zambia

Because of the cold, Seida has been worrying about the well-being of her children, especially for her seven-month-old Joyce. “My worry was how my children will survive the cold, especially for Joyce who doesn’t have anything better to keep her warm.”

“I am grateful to World Vision for giving me such a precious gift which I never expected. Who else could have given it to me here?” she asks further. “I have four children but none of them has ever had a privilege to feel the warmth of a blanket like this one.”

After receiving the blanket, Seida is so jovial that she seems the happiest of all. Baby Joyce is also smiling now as if she understands the precious gift she has just received from World Vision.

“As you can see I am not the only one who is happy; my daughter is happy, too. We never expected this,” Seida says joyfully.


Photo: ©2011 World Vision/photo by Collins Kaumba

She adds, “Although at the clinic we are advised to have such blankets at the time of delivery and after to keep the babies warm, I have never afforded any.” 

“Now that I have this blanket, I’ll use it well so that the next child can also use it and benefit. As a mother, wrapping my child in such a blanket brings me honor and pride,” Seida says further.

Seida is a small-scale farmer who cannot afford to buy such a blanket because they are expensive and cannot be accessed anywhere in rural areas.

Because of poor rains, her produce has not been good enough to sustain them. “Sometimes the food we store finishes before the next farming season so when I find some money, I have to choose between keeping my children hungry and buying a blanket like this to keep one child warm.”


I've spent time meeting and talking with moms in Uganda and Zambia and they are just like me. They want to provide the necessities for their children and they want to be able to give them the warmth and security that their children need to grow and thrive but because of life circumstances, these mothers can't always give them even the most basic necessities.

Today is Giving Tuesday. Any gift given to World Vision today will be generously matched with a product donation from Thirty-One Gifts up to $2,000,000, so any donation you make will have twice the impact for helping families in need around the world.

The Thirty-One Gifts donation of product includes items like apparel, thermals, and totes. Last year, the Thirty-One Gifts blankets that were included in their Giving Tuesday match were used in World Vision programs around the world to keep infants warm and healthy.

You can choose any item to donate through World Vision today, but if you want to make a direct donation to support new mothers and their infants, I recommend the New Mother and Baby Kit!

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1 comment

Marissa Pedersen said...

Aww I love this post. It puts baby blankets into a whole new perspective.

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