World Moms Blog has a long history of advocating for global vaccinations with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, and we are honored to host a post for their #Blogust campaign going on this month! The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness for vaccinations for the children who need them most. Every comment on this post will unlock one donated vaccine for a child. And don’t stop there — every social media share counts, too! You can visit all the posts in the relay at www.blogust.org.
So, tell me now, have you ever experienced any “firsts” growing up that were better than you ever expected or were highly impressionable on who you are today? Many highly anticipated first experiences often come and go forgotten or don’t really mean anything today in retrospect, right? But, here’s a story of one first in my life that made an impact, and I admit to even going back for more! It’s not chocolate, but could have been chocolate, but no, it wasn’t.
Ok, here goes…My age was only 14. I boarded a big yellow school bus to travel to the great big city to my first international summit. And I left with a new perspective on what one person, one child, in fact, could have on the world. This is the story of my first trip to the UN in New York city and how I wound up there as a teenager…
Growing up on the Atlantic coast in New Jersey, USA, it’s common to spend many days on the beautiful sandy shores of my home state and playing in the surf. What was not to love back then?
The pollution, that’s what.
Back in the 1990s, plastic bags, straws, cans, plastic tampon applicators, you name it — all washed up on our beaches. Beaches were closed after hypodermic needles arrived on our shores with other hospital waste. We were swimming in this dangerous mess, and as a species, we were not only endangering our fellow humans, but recklessly damaging a habitat that marine life called home.
The pollution and lack of empathy to preserve our planet drove me nuts!
So, as a teenager I wound up joining a local environmental advocacy group to help raise awareness about the importance to keep our oceans clean and attended their beach clean ups. At a meeting back in 1990 they gave us the news that the UN would be hosting an environmental summit for youth in New York City. I had to go — the UN! The environment!! Yes!!!
I took the information about the youth summit to my high school principal and made the case that our school should be represented. On the day of the summit, my school, Brick Memorial High School, had a delegation en route with our amazing science teacher, Mrs. Kingman.
We were wide-eyed while entering the famous main UN room with seats and labels for delegations from each country. It was a place where decisions were made on human rights, trade, embargos, and we sat down and took to playing with the microphone systems (so hard to resist!). We looked around at all the other students, both, similar and different to us. We didn’t know what to expect from the event, and as it got started, out came speaker after speaker — all kids like us, at the time, from around the world. They spoke of environmental issues affecting the areas they lived in and what was needed or what they were doing to make a difference.
At the UN’s environmental youth summit in the 1990s.
Back in the early 1990s at the UN youth environmental summit, one boy in particular — I remember him being younger than me at the time, maybe 12 years old? maybe younger? — gave a presentation on how the lives of sea turtles in Florida were becoming threatened. He, on his own, was responsible for saving the lives of thousands of babies by protecting their nests and helping the hatchlings out to sea. Our delegation went from wide-eyed to teary eyed. He brought the house down in applause and pride for our fellow youth. That moment engrained in me of how one person, regardless of age, can make an impact on the planet. He was an inspiration.
My first experience at the UN was definitely one that was positive and inspiring — a big realization that we were all players in a world much larger than our own hometowns. And kids could make change, too! They were even already doing it. This mindset is something that inspired me as a kid and will continue to impact how I raise my young daughters today and in the future.
As a part of World Moms Blog, I still jump on the opportunity to head to the UN when we’re invited to report, especially around the UN General Summit & Social Good Summit and for the annual State of the World’s Mother’s Report. We have become our own “United Nations” of moms, here! And additionally, in 2012 when I was asked to be part of a UN Foundation delegation to Uganda with Shot@Life, I was honored to answer the call, too, with the same 14-year old excitement I had when attending the environmental youth summit back in the early 90s. Which brings me back full circle for the purpose of this post…
Elizabeth, a volunteer health worker in Fort Portal, Uganda with World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden on a Shot@Life trip October 2012.
While in Uganda with Shot@Life, I witnessed children receiving life-saving vaccinations at UNICEF’s Family Health Days around the country. We sat under shady trees and spoke with mothers who wanted the same for their children: good health and an education. We played with lots of children, knowing that because they were being vaccinated against measles, pneumonia, rotavirus and polio (the four deadliest killers of children under 5) that they had a healthier shot at living past their fifth birthday and experiencing more “firsts.”
There is no doubt in my mind that life-saving vaccines are needed in the world.
Every 20 seconds a child dies from a disease that could have been prevented through immunization, which is an inexpensive global health solution to save lives. Healthcare in far to reach or developing areas can be ineffective at keeping a child alive in the event of severe diarrhea or pneumonia. A vaccination can work as a shield to protect a child from even contracting these diseases in the first place.
Today, and all this month, you have the unique opportunity to comment on #Blogust posts and help save lives. Walgreens will donate one vaccine to a child who needs it most in response to your comment on this post, those on all the #Blogust posts this month, as well as, any social media shares.
Please, give more children the chance to live past their 5th birthday, the chance to attend a global youth summit, the chance to single-handedly save marine life, the chance to make a positive impact on animal life and on others, the chance to ride a bus to the UN, the chance to live and be a kid. Join me in being a game changer. Help start the conversation to unlock life-saving immunizations!
During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts. Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000). Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.
Sign up here for a daily email so you can quickly and easily comment and share every day during Blogust! For more information, visit shotatlife.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
A UN Foundation Shot@Life delegation to Uganda, including World Moms, Jennifer Burden and LaShaun Martin, shows we are “this close” to eradicating polio worldwide. — October 2012
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control,
“The eradication of polio from the western hemisphere is among the most significant public health achievements of all time, but victory over polio cannot be claimed until the entire world is made safe from the disease, and that is the commitment the global public health community has made.”
What is polio?
“Polio is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by a virus that spreads from person to person invading the brain and spinal cord and causing paralysis.” — US CDC
Is there a cure for polio?
“Because polio has no cure, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the only way to stop the disease from spreading. The spread of polio has never stopped in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Poliovirus has been reintroduced and continues to spread in Chad and Horn of Africa after the spread of the virus was previously stopped.
In the late 1940s to the early 1950s, in the United States alone, polio crippled around 35,000 people each year making it one of the most feared diseases of the twentieth century. By 1979 the country became polio free.” — US CDC
Shot@Life & The GAVI Alliance
The protection of the global population, especially children, from such horrid diseases motivates our volunteerism with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign and the GAVI Alliance. Shot@Life rallies Americans in support of life-saving vaccines for children in the developing world, and sends monetary support organizations on the ground administering the vaccines, such as the GAVI Alliance.
“These diseases are only a plane ride away.” — Dr. Meg Fisher of American Academy of Pediatrics
What Can You Do to Help?
Join World Moms Blog in our movement to help protect the children who need it most, and help eradicate diseases, such as polio.
1) Donate to Shot@Life. Did you know $20 fully vaccinates a child from the 4 leading causes of death of children under 5 years old — polio, measles, rotavirus and pneumonia? And only $1 pays for a polio vaccination.
2) Throw a GAVI Global Tea Party to raise awareness. Did you know you can use these tips from the World Moms about how to have interesting discussions with your friends and family on one of the leading global health solutions?
3) Join the #endpolionow Twitter Party tonight at 8pm-9pm EST tonight, Thursday, October 24th. Shot@Life Champions are taking to twitter tonight in support of polio eradication, and we’ll be there, too, making some noise!
4) Share this post and read our posts on our journey with Shot@Life to Uganda. There, we observed UNICEF’s Family Health Days, which administer life-saving vaccines to children under 5 years old.
Day 1: UNICEF Offices in Kampala Debrief
Day 2: Family Health Day in Mumbende, Uganda
Day 3: Signs of Poverty
Day 4: Family Health Day in Kabarole, Uganda
Do all 4, do 1 — whatever you can do. Help us help children and help eradicate polio worldwide!
This is an original post by World Mom, Jennifer Burden.
Photo credit to Stuart Ramson of the UN Foundation.
This is Day 4 of a trip to Uganda with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, was part of the delegation to observe UNICEF’s Family Health Days in October 2012.
Elizabeth, a volunteer health worker and Ugandan mother who helps to administer life-saving vaccines to children under 5 years old in Fort Portal with World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden, on a Shot@Life trip to Uganda in October 2012.
At Church in Uganda
Sunday, we rose and prepared for the Family Health Day in the town of Fort Portal, which is about a 4 hour drive from Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Our delegation split in two because there were two Family Health Days within our reach that our group wanted to cover, so some of our group headed to a Catholic Church. I was with the group that was at an Anglican church for a Family Health Day.
It was that day that I met John the Baptist, a man who wished to continue school to become a priest, but economics didn’t allow him to do so. He now worked for the town of Fort Portal and accompanied us on our trip. It turned out John the Baptist has a 6 year old daughter, and she and my own 5 year daughter are becoming pen pals over e-mail. What a fantastic cultural experience that may grow out of this trip for two of the world’s children!
We arrived at a grassy knoll with a church on top of the hill. It was picturesque. The familiar (to me) tune of hymns were coming from the building, and on the outside, the health workers were setting up their stations under trees and outside of buildings. Signs were words scrawled on paper: “HIV Testing Here” “Immunizations for Children Under 5”, etc.
First, Cindy Levin’s curiosity led us all into the mass. We sat on what looked like hand made wooden pews and the church inside was painted sky blue and had what looked like Christmas garland hanging from side to side overhead. The energy of the people singing inside was intense! As the priest spoke in a local African dialect, I was able to follow the mass. Not from what he said, but by the sing-song of his tone. I recognized the “Our Father” and the “The Apostle’s Creed” from my days of growing up as a Catholic, although I currently choose not to practice a religion now.
UNICEF Family Health Day
Afterwards we met with health workers, including a lab technician conducting HIV testing, a nurse midwife, and various volunteers administering vaccines, taking blood pressure and testing for malnutrition in small children. The delegation spent time observing each post, but former Mexican nurse, Felisa Hilbert, took it one step further and helped take blood pressure to the smiles of many people waiting in line.
Felisa Hilbert, a former nurse from Mexico, volunteers to take blood pressure during a UNICEF Family Health Day on a Shot@Life trip to Uganda.
Families waited under the shade of large, beautiful trees for their family members who were utilizing the health services. I had the chance to see children receive polio vaccinations.
Interacting with the mothers who were receiving these immunization services for their children was profound for me, after spending almost a year advocating for their children to have access to them.
The people we met in Uganda were curious and open to conversation, and so were we. Having previous been an British colony, English is common in Uganda. Having this common medium, made it possible for our delegation to really experience the local culture and people of Uganda.
I asked so many questions, met so many people and took a lot of notes. The trip has been an asset for me in leading discussions on Twitter for social good for World Moms Blog, for presenting on Shot@Life, in my writing, and in lobbying US Congress on global health and vaccines, talking to friends. But perhaps, it’s greatest impact will be on my daughters due to the multitude of stories I share with them about the children I met in Uganda. My experiences as part of this delegation were so meaningful. Thank you, again, to the UN Foundation and Shot@Life for giving me this great gift that I will continue to share in my advocacy.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, in NJ, USA. To read more about Jennifer’s trip with Shot@Life to Uganda, check out Day 1 about UNICEF offices in Kampala, Uganda, Day 2 of her trip at a UNICEF Family Health Day in Mumbende, Uganda and Day 3 about signs of poverty.
Photo credits to the author.
It takes a lot for me to leave my family behind for a week like I did to go to Uganda. Actually, it was the only time I’ve ever done it, sparked by an URGENT matter. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease?
Doesn’t sound pressing enough?
Well how about some math…:
In the time it takes for the Shot@Life 28 Days of Impact campaign to run through the blogosphere, statistically,120,960 children will succumb to vaccine-preventable deaths in the developing world.
And February is the shortest month.
That is 1.5 MILLION children in a year will die a death that we could have helped prevent for a few bucks. Yes, a few bucks, even just one buck, in some cases. It’s so simple.
Last October I left my family for a week and flew to Uganda with a delegation from the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life
Yesterday, I found myself donning a hijab and touring the inside of a mosque in Mubende, Uganda. It was not my ordinary Friday afternoon as a stay-at-home mom in suburban New Jersey…
By invitation of the UN Foundation, I’m on an observatory trip to Uganda with the Shot@Life campaign delegation to take a first-hand look at UNICEF‘s programs in the country.
This past July UNICEF began bringing the medicine to the people, instead of trying to get the people to the medicine. They’ve had great progress in partnering with religious organizations to make this happen because 90% of Ugandans attend a church or mosque every week according to UNICEF.
So, our first Family and Child Health Day stop was at Mubende Town Mosque on Day Two.