by Elizabeth Atalay | Jun 24, 2014 | 2014, Africa, Awareness, Babies, Birthing, Ethiopia, Health, Humanitarian, Maternal Health, Millennium Development Goals, Motherhood, Newborn Health, Pregnancy, Save The Children, Social Good, Third Eye Mom, Travel, World Moms Blog, World Voice
We had just spent the night at the source of the Blue Nile River. Lake Tana sits in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, and as our caravan of Land Cruisers wove through the countryside from Bahir Dar to Mosebo I took in deep gulping breaths of sweet fresh Ethiopian air. The lush colors of our surroundings looked to me like they had been enhanced in Photoshop in the way that everything seemed to pop. How could I feel this emotional connection to place that was never mine? A place I had never been?
Though this is my first time in Ethiopia, the verdant landscape brought me back to other rural parts of Africa I’d traveled through in my youth, similar topographies that had stayed with me ever since. This time I’d returned to the continent as a new media fellow with the International Reporting Project to report on newborn health. World Moms Blog Editor Nicole Melancon of ThirdEyeMom is a fellow on the trip as well, and last week wrote about our initial overview of maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia. Now we were heading to one of the villages housing a Health Post, which serves the local and surrounding population of approximately 3,500 people.
Mosebo Village is part of Save The Children’s Saving Newborn Lives program, and as such is looked to as a model village in the Ethiopian Government’s plan to reduce maternal and newborn mortality. Mosebo is a rural agrarian community that produces wheat, teff and corn. There I met seven-year-old Zina whose mother, Mebrate was about to give birth. Through our translator Mebrate estimated her age to be around 26, and told us that Zina was her first child. For economic reasons she and her husband had waited to have a second. When she had Zina, Mebrate had gone to her parent’s home to give birth, as women in Ethiopia often do. It is estimated that 80% of Ethiopian mothers will give birth in their home, often without a trained health care attendant. Towards the end of Mebrate’s first pregnancy she went to live with her parents as her family instructed, until after the baby was born. In that way her mother could help her deliver, could care for her and the baby, and feed her the traditional porridge after birth. Although there were no complications during her delivery, sadly, many young mothers giving birth at home are not as fortunate. The time period during and around birth are the most vulnerable for the lives of both the mothers and babies. The Saving Newborn Lives Program aims to reduce maternal and newborn mortality beginning with awareness programs and antenatal care on the local level at Health Posts like the one we visited in Mosebo.
The Mosebo Health Post and Health Extension Workers
We had met Tirgno and Fasika, the two Health Extension Workers at the Mosebo Health Post earlier that day as they showed us the two room interior, and explained their role in improving maternal and newborn health. They work to raise awareness in the community about the importance of antenatal care, and the potential dangers of giving birth at home for both mother and child. Newborn health is interdependent with maternal health, and the most prevalent causes of newborn mortality, infection, Asphyxiation, pre-maturity or low birth weight, and diarrhea can often be avoided with proper care. These days in Mosebo after receiving antenatal care at the Health Post women are then referred to the regional Health Center for deliveries.
Zina shyly smiled when we ask her how she felt about having a new sibling, she stood straight and tall listening intently as we asked her mother about the babies’ arrival. When Mebrate goes into labor this time, with her second child, she will embark on the walk along rural dirt roads for around an hour to the nearest Health Center to give birth.
Elizabeth Atalay is reporting from Ethiopia as a fellow with the International Reporting Project (IRP). This is an original post written for World Moms Blog.
You can follow all IRP reports by World Moms Elizabeth Atalay & Nicole Melancon at #EthiopiaNewborns
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.
by Nicole Melancon (USA) | Jun 17, 2014 | 2014, Ethiopia, Humanitarian, Maternal Health, Newborn Health, Save The Children, World Voice
Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa with a population of 90 million people, stunned the world by achieving the Millennium Development Goal #4 of reducing the mortality rates of children under age 5 by two-thirds well ahead of the 2015 deadline. In a country in which 95% of the population lives outside of an urban center in rural, remote and hard to reach areas and a shocking 80% of women birth at home without a midwife. Health Extension Workers (HEW) have been the key ingredient to Ethiopia’s success. However, sadly the rate of newborn survival in Ethiopia has not shown nearly as much progress.
As an international reporting fellow with The International Reporting Project, fellow World Moms Blog editor, Elizabeth Atalay, and I are in Ethiopia for the next two weeks reporting on newborn health. We will be meeting with a diverse variety of people around the country such as doctors, health officials, mothers, NGOs, midwives and health extension workers to learn about Ethiopia’s maternal, newborn and child health systems, policies and strategies for improving newborn health. Today we had a presentation on maternal, newborn and child health in Ethiopia given by Dr. Abeba Bekele, the Program Manager at Save the Children Ethiopia’s Saving Newborn Lives Program.
Dr. Abeba Bekele is a medical doctor by training yet after spending five years working in the field she saw firsthand some of the tragic problems with maternal care in her country.
Watching as a patient bled to death after delivery, and being unable to save this mother of six, was a turning point for Dr. Abeba. She decided to move to working in public health policy in hope of improving Ethiopia’s poor maternal and child health care system.
Over the years, Dr. Abeba has seen remarkable progress in some areas, but painfully slow progress in other areas in regards to maternal, newborn and child health.
- Over the past 20 years, Ethiopia has reduced child deaths (for children under age 5) by more than two-thirds. In 1990, an estimated 204 children in every 1,000 in Ethiopia died before the age of five. Now that number is closer to 69 in every 1,000.
- While 1- 59 months (i.e. 5 year) child mortality rate is declining 6.1% annually the neonatal rate (first 28 days of life) is only declining 2.4% annually.
- Since the year 2000, Ethiopia has reduced its lifetime risk of maternal death from 1 in 24 to 1 in 67.
Although these figures are encouraging, there is also much work to be done in improving maternal, newborn and child health in Ethiopia. One of the main issues that is making maternal and newborn mortality rates difficult to tackle is the fact that over 80% of women in Ethiopia deliver at home with no trained help. These women give birth assisted by the community birth attendant, with a friend, a neighbor or even by themselves. The best way to save both maternal and newborn lives is to have women give birth assisted by a trained midwife at a health center. In fact the Ethiopian government is strongly encouraging all women to give birth at a health center but there are many obstacles in the way.
In an effort to improve maternal, newborn and child health, the Ethiopian government has implemented a massive effort of new policies and programs throughout the nation. The biggest success story has been the training and deploying of an army of 34,000 Health Extension Workers (HEW). Implemented in 2005, this massive effort has had remarkable success in saving lives through education, prevention of diseases, and provision of family health services. HEW’s live within the community and are trained and paid by the government to do home visits for an assigned population within their community. HEWs have been successful in cutting child under five deaths significantly as they can check and treat for the biggest child killers like diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria. However, HEWs are not trained as midwives, and can only advise a woman to give birth in a health center. This is an area that must be changed as giving birth by a trained professional in a health center would significantly reduce neonatal and maternal deaths.
Progress also needs to be made in the sheer accessibility and number of health centers. Today there are only 3,500 health centers in Ethiopia for 90 million people. More health centers and hospitals need to be built and more roads to reach the inaccessible areas. More midwives need to be trained and distributed throughout the country. According to the 2012 State of the World’s Midwives report, there is one midwife for every 18,000 people in Ethiopia whereas the World Health Organization recommends there should be one midwife per every 5,000 people in a given country. A lot of work needs to be done but the progress they have made in the past two decades is admirable.
Nicole Melancon is reporting from Ethiopia as a fellow with the International Reporting Project (IRP). This is an original post written for World Moms Blog.
You can follow all IRP reports by World Moms Elizabeth Atalay & Nicole Melancon at #EthiopiaNewborns
Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path.
A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends.
Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!).
Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!
by Purnima Ramakrishnan | Apr 22, 2014 | 2014, Awareness, Brazil, Environment, Human Rights, Humanitarian, Purnima, Social Good, Water, World Moms Blog
Photo of Celia’s saplings by Purnima Ramakrishnan
“Universal access to water is a right to all and now it is just on our doorsteps” said farmer Celia. I was traveling as a International Reporting Project Fellow, and we had just arrived in the semi-arid city of Cumaru, in the North-Eastern state of Pernambuco.
We had lunch at Joelma’s place who is a farmer in Cumaru. She made delicious rice, palma salad with lots of vegetables in it (a variety of sustainable cacti, native to the lands and which is used to feed both livestock and people). And then we went to her sister-in-law, Celia’s farm. Celia is also a farmer.
When Celia was six years old, she used to go downhill and carry water back up to her home in pots and buckets, and she recalls them being very heavy. When she cajoled her father, he sometimes let her use a donkey to bring it back home. This, the six-year-olds woke up at 3 AM every day to do. I have an 8-year-old at home, and I cannot imagine giving him such a life.
Today though, she is grateful that she can give her own two-year-old, a better life, thanks to the Cisterns project.
The average rainfall in these semi-arid lands varies from 200 to 800 mm, which is very irregular for habitation. Moreover, the amount of evaporation in these lands is three times higher than the rainfall. Hence it becomes even more important to capture the rainwater for families during the dry season. This is the concept of the Cisterns project.
The ASA (Articulation Brazilian Semi-Arid) is a network of social organisations operating in the Northeast of Brazil which aims to “empower civil society to build participatory processes for sustainable development and cope with the semi-arid land based on cultural values, and social justice.”
ASA was born from accumulated experience of organisations and social movements that have worked for years in the perspective of living with the Semi-arid climate. In 1999, the ASA presented a joint project for the Semi-arid to the society and the government, and thus the Articulation became a network.
In 2003, ASA launched P1MC (Program One Million Rural Cisterns), which aims to build 1 million water reservoirs to meet the needs of 5 million families. Currently there are 500 thousand reservoirs and the program has graduated into a public policy adopted by the Federal Budget.
These water reservoirs or cisterns are of two types. Every family has cisterns with a capacity of 16,000 litres of water for domestic use and another of 52,000 litres of water for farming and livestock use. The technology employed here is called social-technology and basically collects water from the rooftops and harvests the rainwater. The families are given a course in water management and are also requested to take a course in farming in semi-arid.
Photo of a 16000 litre cistern by Purnima Ramakrishnan
Celia says, she is now employed and this has brought about female empowerment along with water, and agriculture, all because of the cistern on her doorstep.
She cultivates small saplings and sells it to the other farmers. She grows corn, papaya, oranges, tangerine, beans, cashew, Umbu, tamarind, and many other things. She also sells the produce (though now too much) in the market and to other farmers. Her husband works in construction department in the town, whereas she lives in the village doing her farming with her two-year-old. She hopes to give a better life to her son.
She has been taught in her course to cultivate three types of plants, she says. The first is the native plants which thrives well on the soil of the area with not much dependency, and is more suited to the semi-arid climate like the Umbu. Then the plants which are not suited to the area, like corn, for which abundant water is available from the cisterns. And the third type is the plants for the livestock like Palma. This ensures that the plants give back to nature what they take from it. The soil gets enriched and also nurtures the plants. It is a two-way process.
Carlos-explaining-about-the-cisterns-and-farmer-Celia-looking-on Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan
This seed of change stimulated by social organisations that operate in the region have prompted the development of coexistence of half-barren lands with practical goals absorbed by the government to promote sustainable living.
We asked Carlos, the program coordinator of ASA in the region, “Is this a solution for food security?” He said it is much more than that. It is a solution for independence, female empowerment because of employment in one’s own farm, it is a way to make the semi-arid a much greener place to live, it is a solution to democratize water, and make it a universal right, not a consumer product.
Celia’s son and nephew, Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan
I remember that water was more expensive than beer in my hotel. And I now knew why! One should not pay to have to drink water, he said.
This concept can be embraced in many developing semi-arid regions.
On this Earth Day, let us pledge to make our cities greener and conserve water. Let us spread such buds of change through social media, and other channels.
How do you plan to honor this Earth Day?
This is a post written by Purnima Ramakrishnan on her #BrazilMDGs trip to Brazil as a fellow of Journalism with the International Reporting Project.
by Purnima Ramakrishnan | Mar 11, 2014 | 2014, Brazil, Humanitarian, International, Poverty, Purnima, Social Good, The Alchemist, Travel, World Moms Blog, World Voice, Writing
United Nations Foundation
Sometime back I wrote in my personal blog that I am ‘NOT’ a globe-trotting mama. But here I am getting ready for my next adventure all over Brazil.
I am honored and proud to officially announce that I have been selected to receive a fellowship in Journalism and will be reporting from Brazil for the International Reporting Project as part of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I shall be reporting about reduction of poverty and hunger in Brazil, and how it has embraced the Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of its citizens.
Here at World Moms Blog, working for the MDGs has been something close to our hearts. And hence this trip is also very close to my heart where I will be learning so much and sharing what we do here at World Moms Blog through media and through the power of mothers. Having launched the Moms4MDGs campaign in Chicago, during BlogHer13 and following up very closely and working with it has made me feel very passionate about this cause.
As I brace myself for a hectic fortnight in the 2nd and 3rd week of April, where we may go back-packing and camping in rural and sub-urban Brazil, one thought comes to my mind – What is it that I am going to achieve, apart from the learning and all the anticipated fun? I really don’t know that yet.
I only know that this trip is going to be very special in so many ways.
I have written posts about the 8 MDGs in the past about a few topics including Environment, Eco-feminism, reducing Infant mortality rate, child-health, Social issues and empowerment of girl child and women. I now also look forward to learn more about reduction of health, poverty, hunger and improvement of the lifestyle of citizens by the sustained effort of various individuals and organizations.
This trip is going to take me places very rugged and rustic like rural villages where connectivity could be difficult, I understand. It makes me a bit concerned, honestly. Not being in touch with my family, especially my son every single moment is going to be difficult. I leave him in good care and support; however this phase sure will be tricky to cope.
We do not have a detailed itinerary yet, but I know that it is going to be exciting. Exciting? Yes, at times, IRP fellows have also met with Presidents/Prime Ministers of the countries they visit. So, it is just not back-packing and camping and reporting from the villages. It is also meeting with the decision makers and understanding how the entire system works.
Anybody want to guess what came in the mail yesterday? A luggage tag featuring the WMB lady, just in time for my travels. Jen, Thank you! I love this so much and as I pack my bags for Brazil, this is something which will always remind me of the love and comradeship of this beautiful group.
Please look forward to my everyday thoughts and stories, and possibly photographs, video posts, blog posts, slideshows, updates on social networks, assuming I have a good internet connection.
You can track my posts from this trip at #Moms4MDGs.You can track all posts from this trip using #BrazilMDGs.
I will be tweeting from both @WorldMomsBlog and @Puma_Vinod. I will vicariously be posting on Facebook both on my personal profile and World Moms Blog profile too.
Please feel free to ask me any questions and leave your comments about this trip. I would also love to read any of your insights on Brazil.
This is the first of the many posts credited to the International Reporting Project (IRP), as part of my reporting from Brazil on this fellowship.
Photo credit United Nations Foundation.
This is an original post written by Purnima Ramakrishnan for World Moms Blog.