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9 months and 42 days: Emily’s journey to help mothers in Nigeria

9 months and 42 days – that’s the duration of pregnancy and the most critical days following birth for a mother and her infant. For Emily Teo, that’s how long she hopes it takes her to raise $10,000 to help build a health clinic to help moms and babies in Nigeria.

Emily Teo poses with her two young children.

Emily Teo, mother of 2, is raising funds to help build a health clinic in Nigeria.

The pain of childbirth was mixed with pure joy and happiness for Emily. Both her children were delivered in hospital here in Canada, under the care of nurses, doctors and specialists. And as Emily explains, everything went according to plan.

“When I was in labour, there were slight complications, but from my perspective, there was nothing wrong. That’s because I received amazing care and I was constantly monitored by my nurses and doctors. These complications could’ve been a huge deal, but they weren’t because I have access to health care, and because of that, I’m a mother and I have the privilege of being with my children every day.”

The institution of motherhood

It’s the privilege of motherhood in Canada that got Emily motivated to make a difference for mothers less fortunate around the world. She wanted to help improve the quality care for women and families however she could.

“I’ve seen children without moms,” Emily describes. “I’ve read about countless moms who die because they don’t have proper care, and as a mom, it’s my responsibility to do something so children can have their mothers, and that mothers have the opportunity to experience motherhood.”

So, Emily teamed up with Plan Canada to help build a health clinic in Nigeria – a country whose steep maternal mortality rates sparked Emily’s attention.

Helping mothers and infants in Nigeria

Two health care workers in front of a health clinic.

Emily’s Gift of Hope will construct and equip health facilities with proper supplies, trained health care workers and support for new moms and infants.

Every year in Nigeria, scores of women die from pregnancy-related complications, leaving children without mothers and tearing families apart. In 2013 alone, nearly 40,000 women died before, during or after childbirth. These deaths occur because women are not receiving adequate prenatal and postnatal health care in their communities. Yet, most of these deaths are entirely preventable.

“Given access to appropriate health care or trained physicians, these people would be alive,” explains Emily.

So, Emily began what she called, The Mama Collective to help make pregnancy and childbirth safer for expectant mothers and infants in Nigeria by improving access to quality care. When Emily reaches her fundraising goal, her gift will help:

  • Refurbish and equip 12 health facilities to provide basic emergency obstetric and newborn care to mothers and babies.
  • Equip an additional 3 facilities with comprehensive emergency obstetric and newborn care on site.
  • Provide 3 ambulances to transport expectant mothers to newly equipped health facilities.
  • Train over 3,000 birth attendants, health care workers, and community health volunteers.
  • Raise awareness in communities to help improve knowledge on the importance of receiving prenatal and postnatal care.


Changing lives together

The Mama Collective will have a profound impact on thousands of women, children and families in Nigeria. Expectant mothers will have access to improved health facilities, services and skilled care. Most importantly, mothers can experience the joys of motherhood, and children will have their mothers.

“I hope the Mama Collective will educate people so they are aware of the issues surrounding maternal health,” Emily explains. “I want women here at home to be able to share their birth stories because stories mean more than statistics – they’re what empowers people and motivates them to make a difference.”

We thank Emily for all her support and wish her all the best on her 9 month and 42-day journey to help mothers in Nigeria. And we hope her story empowers you to make a difference, too.