Uganda Moms & Baby on Back 225

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.

When we first arrived, the people were praying outside behind the mosque. There were too many people in attendance to pray inside the building, especially because it was the holiday of Eid al-Adha.

MosqueSo, we sat and began conversing with some children near the health tents. We asked them their names and their ages, and we asked them about school. Fellow Shot@Life champion, Jenny Eckton, and I were swarmed with children. We took out our cell phones to show them pictures of our own kids, and they were also excited to see pictures of the Atlantic Ocean that I had taken when my daughter was searching for seashells.

The praying ended and the people came back around to the front of the building. We were greeted by town officials, as well as the Imam and his religious officials with open arms. They were excited to tell us about the Family Health Day that was occurring. They said that there are over 120 mosques in the area and over 70 were having health services today.

UNICEF’s Child and Family Health Days provide children with Vitamin A tablets to help prevent blindness, polio and measles immunizations, deworming tablets and insecticide treated bed nets to help prevent malaria. At this location they also gave adults blood pressure, diabetes and HIV testing.

The mothers proudly brought their babies up to be vaccinated.

First Vaccination Mumbende Uganda 500Vaccination for the four leading causes of death in children under 5 years can mean the difference in life and death for a child. This was the most important part of our observation because World Moms Blog has been championing for the health of children through vaccination for over a year now.

We were graciously invited into the community by the Imam.  They were so friendly to us that we actually received a very rare invitation inside the mosque, but we were asked to cover our hair.  So when in Rome…

We got to see where they worshipped inside, and where the imam lived — a small building connected to the mosque.

The holiday included slaughtering live animals to share with their members: cows and goats. I looked away, but later saw the meat being hung on the tree. The men cut off pieces, and members lined up with bags to take some home. For someone who is not used to seeing where her meat is coming from, I have been eating vegetarian ever since.

author, Jen Burden, and fellow Shot@Life champions in Uganda

 The people were super friendly, and the mothers once approached were curious and excited to talk with us.  The children were everywhere and wanted us to take their pictures. The mothers lined up to take their kids to the health stations. We were all bonded in our shared the wish for their children, all children in the world, to be healthy.

World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden, was in Uganda as part of the Shot@Life delegation to the UNICEF offices in Kampala.

Photo credits to the author.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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