OurMaa is a week of fundraising and creating awareness of Maa’s work. It is preceded by an annual ‘Maa Week’ which occurred every October since the charity’s inception in 2015.
Maa Week took place within King’s College London campuses where Maa was founded. It was a fundraising initiative, and included social events and bakes sales which allowed students to donate towards Maa. The week also saw students take to social media to support the charity; in its first year, followers were encouraged to post a picture of their mothers with a message of appreciation.
This year the Fundraising team at Maa hoped to build upon the successes of Maa Week. By extending its activities to students beyond King’s College London, and even London itself, Maa invited more individuals to share in its vision. This year the team hoped to highlight the necessity of initiatives such as Maa’s, as well as encouraging its supporters to think about the real impact that Maa will be having on mothers and infants in Bangladesh and beyond.
Our 2017 Story
OurMaa began on Monday 9th October and, as with previous years, was largely supported by students from King’s College London.
The week commenced with a talk entitled ‘Let’s Talk Taboo: Child Marriage, Pregnancy and Menstruation in South Asia’, which focused on the challenges faced by women in South Asia on sexual and reproductive health. The idea for the event developed from discussions with the JourneyMaa team who travelled to Bangladesh in summer 2017. The team spoke about the stigmas surrounding reproductive health in the region, and how this may cause reluctance amongst women and families to seek maternal healthcare. For the talk, Maa invited Heather Barr from Human Rights Watch, Arwyn Finn from Girls Not Brides, Sadhana Bharanidharan from DesiBlitz and Fatnin Mohd Fuad from Maa to share their insights and expertise. The panel discussion was followed by a question and answer session. One discussion prompted Sadhana to summarise the aim of the event with ‘just because it offends people, does not mean you stop talking about it’.
OurMaa included a number of social events allowing for individuals to meet, find out more about Maa and how they can support it. Our fancy dress party ‘Fancy That’ asked guests to come dressed as their favourite character from television, film or books. The evening consisted of games based on popular culture, amazing cakes donated by Mama Naqvi Cakes and a talk by blogger and designer Sabba Rahman who revealed how her mother inspired her to become a designer. OurMaa also included an Inter-University Football Tournament which was held in Mile End Park and included teams from King’s College London, University College London, Queen Mary UoL, University of Westminster, City UoL, Kingston University and St George’s UoL, with Kingston University taking the trophy. OurMaa’s second Inter-University event was our Games Night and invited teams from King’s College London, University College London, Queen Mary UoL and Imperial College London. Before the final round of the night, the audience heard from Maa founder Aqil Jaigirdar who spoke about why he started Maa and the charity’s progress so far. The winners of the night were Peaky Blinders, a team from King’s College London, who won tickets for the Escape Rooms. To add to the various events during the week, King’s College London, Queen Mary UoL and the University of Leeds held bake sales in aid of Maa, with fellow students supporting the initiative by donating cakes and volunteering time on the stalls.
During OurMaa, the University of Leeds held their very own Games Night and a ‘High Chai’ event; alongside their bake sale, the university raised a total of £574.40 for Maa!
OurMaa’s social media campaign ‘#MaaTaughtMe’ asked individuals to post about a skill or value that their mothers have taught them. The aim was to initiate a chain of responses to the project, and remind social media followers about why Maa does what it does. The campaign saw an overwhelming response from existing supporters of Maa and those that were just finding out about the charity. From the comedic to the emotive, Maa was joined by a number of people on social media to share our gratitude for the lessons that our mothers have imparted to us.
OurMaa was not just an opportunity to fundraise for Maa, but an opportunity to reflect on the work that Maa has carried and will carry out – throughout the project, we frequently encountered reminders about the significance of this. ‘Let’s Talk Taboo: Child Marriage, Pregnancy and Menstruation in South Asia’ taught us that there are many social, economic and political considerations for discussions on maternal health. Our social media campaign #MaaTaughtMe showed the power of a mother’s teachings; by empowering mothers, we can help facilitate the emergence of a future generation guided by understanding and wisdom. Aqil’s talk at the Games Night showcased what can be achieved, within a short space of time, when a group of individuals work together with the sole aim of bettering the lives of others. Lastly, OurMaa’s various events and initiatives – Fancy That, Football Tournament, Games Night and the efforts of students at the University of Leeds and Queen Mary UoL – has shown that we can all contribute, however small, to the foundations Maa is laying for a revolutionised maternal healthcare system in resource-poor settings around the world.
OurMaa was supported by the following businesses, individuals and organisations:
- Girls Not Brides
- Human Rights Watch
- Mama Naqvi Cakes – mama_naqvi_cakes on Instagram
- Sabba Rahman – QueenOfSabba on Instagram
- Sweet Zone
- Escape Rooms