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Mum of premature babies has set up a premature baby project

PICTURED: Ola Adegbenro

A MOTHER whose babies were born prematurely has set up a project to offer care and support to families with premature and sick babies in NICU.

Ola Adegbenro, who lives in Essex, started Colourful Beginnings after her own babies were born prematurely. The project started as an Instagram page but now Adegbenro wants to register it as a charity and is currently trying to secure funds to enable her to help more NICU families.

The 33-year-old mother of two, who is originally from Nigeria, said: "My first child was born at 23 weeks three years ago, with no chance of surviving, but after a very long nine months in five different hospitals, she made it home on home oxygen.

"My second girl was born at 29 weeks and had her share of the NICU journey. Having experienced the NICU first hand and twice, I can tell you it is a very hard journey with little to no support. This is what led me to start Colourful Beginnings. I want to support other families with premature or sick babies and to bring hope and love in a difficult situation.

"I found the NICU journey very hard and disheartening. I felt I had nowhere to turn to the first time around and the second time, I had to rely on my experience with my first child. I also relied on the ideas and observations of friends who weren’t even preemie mums. The medical teams helped but could only go as far as their line of duty permitted.

"Seeing how tedious and how mentally, physically and emotionally draining the experience of having a preemie baby was for myself, my family and other families I encountered, it became imperative to have a support group for families of preemie babies where ideas, experiences, challenges and solutions can be shared. That’s how Colourful Beginnings was born."

The project, which has a strong community of 18,000 followers on Instagram, offers support to families by sharing personal stories, organising events for parents and providing care packages.

Adegbenro said: "We share stories of babies who have made it through NICU and come out healthy and strong. The success stories we share are there to encourage anyone with a baby in NICU. Sometimes the future looks bleak, but we hope that these stories would be sources of inspiration, hope and strength for the NICU journey.”

Colourful Beginnings also sends out mini care packages throughout the year to families that request for it. They have also delivered Christmas care packages to families in hospitals and hope to be able to help more families.

“We have been able to deliver care packages to three hospitals, but I would like to take it further, by reaching out to more families, providing more care packages." said Adegbenro. "From testimonials, these care packages bring hope and assurance to families and a sense of support, letting them know they are not alone."

Colourful Beginnings has qualified to the next round of the Aviva Community Fund, an initiative which helps small groups and causes to secure funding for their projects. She hopes to secure funding so she can deliver more care packages to families and needs as many votes as possible to enable this to happen.

"The purpose of the care packages is to bring about normality and essential items a baby and parents can use in the first few weeks after the baby is born and beyond. As we know, having a premature baby means most of the shopping hasn’t been done, and if things had been bought, those things will definitely not be appropriate for the baby.

"For example, most premature babies are unable to wear clothes and when they can, their first outfit is usually for the hospital, which means when baby is discharged, the outfit has to be returned. We include things like this in the care packages we provide. We also arrange for a professional photographer to go to the hospital to take photos of families with their babies in NICU to help families preserve memories from their baby’s early weeks of life."

"I am very proud of this project because I can see how lives are positively impacted," she added. "I’ve had feedback from families saying Colourful Beginnings has given them hope, knowing they have someone who understands them to reach out to. Hearing this makes me super proud.”

If you’d like to support Colourful Beginnings, visit www.colourfulbeginnings.com

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