This piece was written by CMMB CHAMPS project assistant, Joseph Musau Mutunga in Kenya. Joseph shares the heartbreaking story of Joshua and His mother, Kavinya. Kavinya made the ultimate sacrifice, her life, to give birth to her baby. In the spirit of the Lenten sacrifices and in anticipation of International Women’s Day we are sharing Kavinya and Joshua’s story— the story of a sacrifice too many mothers around the world are forced to make giving birth.

After travelling for miles from the nearest town, I arrive at the home of baby Joshua’s family. The sun shines bright and hot despite the darkness filling the hearts of this family.

Baby Joshua is only two months old, but he will never know the love of his mother.

Kavinya, Joshua’s mother, started having labor pains and knew it was time to deliver her baby boy. She rushed to a small local, health post, unable to pay the full price of a ride to the mission hospital many miles from home. Her labor was not progressing normally and the staff at the local facility knew they didn’t have the capacity or the resources to help her anymore. They managed to pull together enough money to send Kavinya to Mutomo Mission Hospital. But it was too late.

Kavinya held on, knowing the life of her unborn baby was at risk, and gave birth to Joshua when they arrived to the hospital. Just minutes after Joshua came into the world, Kavinya left it. She was only 28 years old.

Joshua’s grandmother, Mwikali recounts the day Joshua was born with sadness:

“I was called into the labor ward and what they told me next was a complete shock to me. They broke the horrible news that my daughter, Kavinya had died giving birth. I was confused, I felt as if the world had turned into a very tiny space. Death is mysterious and unforgiving.

It was so painful and confusing after death robbed Joshua of his mother in the first hour of his life. I feared with every passing hour that death would come back to snatch my young grandson, too. Joshua developed breathing problems and needed to be put on oxygen for two days.”

Kavinya’s life was sacrificed to bring Joshua into the world. She truly gave everything. These are the sacrifices mother’s make when they do not have access to proper healthcare.


Joshua, Mwikali and the other children at home

When I sit down to talk to Mwikali I see a grandmother doing her absolute best but still struggling. Mwikali is now taking care of baby Joshua and his three young siblings all on her own. To make matters worse, without his mother to provide breast milk, Joshua is reliant on baby formula which is too expensive for Mwikali to afford. She fears for Joshua’s life and tells me she doesn’t know how she would endure another loss.

Despite her pain and the extreme challenges she faces, Mwikali holds steadfast to her faith:

“No matter the situation, I thank God. He is well with my soul. God gives and takes. My dream one day is to see Joshua grow healthy and become a doctor.”

We were able to provide emergency formula and nutritional support for Joshua and his family through our Angel Investor program. But the root of the problem remains: we need to expand access to pregnant mothers in these remote communities. Deaths, like Kavinya’s, are completely preventable. We need better medical supplies and education for health workers in rural facilities. We need expanded access to ambulances in remote communities. We need medicine to help women have safer deliveries.

Baby Joshua and his siblings will grow up without their mother. But with the right steps forward and support from generous people around the world, I pray other children won’t have to.

baby joshua

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