Twenty years ago Cherry had completed her university degree in business, but was still unemployed. Driving with her family one night past the prostitutes on the streets of Addis Ababa she and her family sparked a discussion that left her wondering about what separated her life from theirs. The street women who flashed them as they passed stayed in Cherry’s mind. She was an educated woman who could not find a job, how were these women supposed to find decent jobs if she couldn’t? She began going out at night to speak with the girls on the street and formed relationships that then became the foundation of “Women At Risk”, an NGO providing rehabilitation and job skills training to provide the women with alternate opportunities.
Today “Women At Risk” partners with Ellilta Products where the gorgeous FashionAble scarves that Nicole Melancon and I first heard of through the ONE Campaign are made. We knew if we had the opportunity while in Ethiopia on our International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship trip we would love to visit the facility ourselves. Eden Genet Melke, Ellilta’s Business Development Manager was gracious enough to welcome us to the headquarters, show us around, and share the story of how it all began. Forty to forty-six women a year now go through the program of six months of rehabilitation followed by six months of job training. The program has had a 96% rehabilitation rate of women being able to leave behind their life on the streets and create a new future for themselves, and their children.
Cotton has been grown as a crop in Ethiopia as far back as Queen Sheba, and the history of rich textiles are woven into Ethiopian heritage. Initially the women in the program, most of whom are single mothers, were hesitant to learn weaving. In Ethiopia weaving has traditionally been a man’s trade. Most Ethiopian men in the southern region know how to weave, and the women customarily have done the spinning, but once the women saw their finished products with their names on them, (each scarf comes with a name tag signed by the woman who made it) their sense of pride in what they were able to create emerged.
Here is how the process of transformation takes place
Dried In The Sun
Then Woven Into the Beautiful Creations They Become
This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama for World Moms Blog
Elizabeth Atalay and Nicole Melancon were in Ethiopia with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship reporting on newborn health.
I’ve yet to meet a mom who is not monitoring her kid’s eating habits. Some might even be obsessed over it, others just make sure their kids eat enough or don’t overeat. Food can be filled with cultural, health or moral values and seems an important subject in most families I know.
Every single one of the moms I know, seems to have her personal truth about food, or is at least searching for it. I know quite a few moms who vouch for strict vegetarianism, sugar free, all organic, low-carb, macrobiotic, low-fat or a mix of those. Others cook without lactose, gluten, sugar, eggs, nuts, soy and other allergy or intolerance boosters, by necessity or by conviction. But there’s also quite a number who just like to stick to their grandmothers’ favourite mashed potatoes with pork chops and piccalilli, because that’s what they were raised with.
Myself, I mix quite a bit of the above. My life is all about compromises. As a student, I used to be vegetarian, but now we eat vegetarian for only about 3 days a week. I also restrict the amount of lactose, because of my daughter’s (mild) intolerance. I make sure they eat at least one piece of fruit per day, but most days it’s two or three. And because we are Belgian, we have our two-weekly take out of ‘French’ fries, which originally came from Belgium. Or maybe even from Flanders.
I would not call myself obsessed, but I do keep a detailed mental track of what my kids eat in a day, and try to compensate by the 80/20 rule I adopted from a fellow World Mom: if they eat healthy for 80% of the time, that will make up for the 20% they eat junk.
When a mom has found her personal truth about food, obviously she wishes for her kids to eat by it; which they aren’t likely to do without a struggle. Not after they’ve tasted the Belgian fries, they won’t.
When my oldest was younger, I used to think I had it all together though. He ate whatever vegetable I gave him and his favourite dish was Brussels’ sprouts. I even recall quite some occasions on which I, the former vegetarian, bribed him into eating his meat by promising him an extra stem of broccoli. After a while, even the meat didn’t pose a problem anymore. He would eat whatever I served him.
Those good old days are over now.
It all started when our daughter arrived, age 2.5. She came from Ethiopia and was not used to our diet, not mentally, but also not physically. The first time I served her something green, she just threw it on the floor. Not out of a whim, but because she was clearly convinced it was not edible. She even tried to take it out of my mouth. Having been fed mashed dishes all her life, she was also not used to chewing. She did like bread and she did her best chewing it, but we had to take her to a physiotherapist to sooth her jaw pains. So we customized our cooking to her and introduced new stuff every once in a while. The one dish that never posed a problem was, indeed, our Belgian fries.
Meanwhile, our son, then 5, seemed to finally grasp that there was such a thing as rejecting food. I don’t know whether it was his sister’s example, the TV shows he started watching, his classmates or just normal evolution, but he started getting more selective each month. He also ate with his hands more often, just like his sister was used to. I went from having one kid with excellent eating habits to two picky, messy eaters.
After two years of convincing myself it was just a phase, this year I started implementing some strategies to get them to eat more balanced. Ultimately, what they were eating wasn’t all that bad but I was getting tired of the drama and the struggle to get them to eat what I believed was good for them. And most of all, I wanted them to develop the discipline to choose healthy by themselves, and not just because I ordered or rewarded them.
First, I tried the Yucky List. A colleague of mine had it at home, and it worked perfectly for her family. The idea is that it is only natural to have different tastes and that you don’t need to like everything. The concept is that each family member can have three dishes they really don’t like, on that list. When it is served, they are allowed to refuse it and have bread instead. Or hope for a mom who cooks two different dishes in advance. Of course over time, you can change your preferences but when a fourth dish you don’t like is served to you, you have to eat it, before you can put it on the list (replacing another).
It seemed promising but after a few weeks, the kids started to change their list about every other day. Way too many family dinners were filled with ‘I will put this on my yucky list for sure!’ and a lot of moaning and struggling, which didn’t really lighten the mood as I had hoped it would. We might pick it up again when they are older but for now, it doesn’t work for us.
After that, I changed my strategy to handing out a Yucky Coupon, Bah Bon in Dutch. I borrowed the idea from a friend who used to do cooking for youth camps. At these camps, each of the kids was given one Bah Bon for the duration of the camp. They could hand it in if they didn’t want to eat one of the meals that was cooked for them. Of course, they only could do that once. And the ones who still had the Bah Bon at the last day of camp, could hand it in, in exchange for ice cream.
So that’s how we do it now and it works like a charm! The kids both have their weekly Bah Bon, which is very conveniently posted on the magnetic wall next to the dinner table. Whenever they complain about dinner (or lunch or breakfast), we just point to their Bah Bon and remind them they can hand it in if they wish. No strict words, just giving them a choice and a visual reminder. Our son hasn’t missed his Sunday ice cream once. Our daughter has, once, and she’s not likely to miss another.
Of course, this will only work if ice cream is really a treat for your kids. Mine don’t really get candy or other sweets that often, so for them this works perfectly.
And of course, it’s still kind of a bribe. But I like it much more than the daily ‘If you don’t eat it, you can’t have desert’ bribe. For one, because we don’t have desert every day. Second, because they have to manage the discipline to work all week for their ice cream, rather than getting an instant reward. Third, because I don’t exactly sell the ice cream as a bribe or reward but rather as an interpretation of the 80/20 rule: if they eat healthy and balanced all week, it is all right to have something unhealthy every once in a while.
Most importantly, I like this system because the kids themselves really like this system. They like being in control of what they (don’t) eat without any pressure from us, and most of all they absolutely love our weekly ceremony when they officially hand in the Bah Bon they saved in exchange for their well deserved treat.
Do you have a personal or cultural take on the food you serve your kids? And do you need similar strategies to convince them about it?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.
The picture in this post is credited to the author.
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
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
We have exciting news at World Moms Blog! Two World Moms Blog Editors, myself and Elizabeth Atalay, have been selected to travel to Ethiopia this June as New Media journalism fellows with The International Reporting Project (IRP). Last April, World Moms Blog Senior Editor Purnima Ramakrishnan of India was a fellow on the IRP’s Brazil trip where she reported on the reduction of poverty and hunger in Brazil, and how it has embraced the Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of its citizens.
The International Reporting Project (IRP) is based at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the John Hopkins University and the primary goal of the IRP is to provide journalists with the opportunity to report internationally on issues not traditionally covered in mainstream media.
The program was created in 1998, making it a pioneer in the “nonprofit journalism” movement that seeks to fill the gap left by much of the mainstream media’s reduction of international news. The IRP has provided opportunities to more than 400 journalists to report from more than 100 countries and produce award-winning stories.
Photo credit: IRP
Elizabeth and I will be two of nine new media journalist fellows heading for a two-week trip to Ethiopia to report on Ethiopia’s efforts to prevent newborn deaths as well as provide an overview of maternal and child health, immunizations, nutrition, communicable diseases, and health care provision, among other topics.
One of the areas that I am most excited to learn about is how Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa, has stunned the world community by achieving Millennium Development Goal number #4 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 90% of women birth at home without a midwife, Frontline Health Care Workers (FHCW) have been the key ingredient to Ethiopia’s success. I am really excited to meet some of these workers and mothers and share their stories. I am sure it will be a life-changing experience.
While in Ethiopia, I will examine Ethiopia’s political, historical, socio-economic and cultural dynamics to report on this misunderstood country, setting the stage to shed light on the massive effort introduced by the Ethiopian government to achieve MDG4 and what the impact has been on other critical areas such as newborn and maternal health, poverty, and other Millennium Development Goals.
Elizabeth is looking forward to seeing first hand and reporting on maternal and newborn health issues, and solutions in Ethiopia that she has previously only written about. There is great optimism coming out of Ethiopia these days and with the success of decreased maternal and child mortality, the next frontier to conquer is survival of newborns. More than half of the child deaths that do still occur take place in that first year of life, the first 24 hours being most critical. Newborn survival is closely tied to maternal health so issues around safe birth and postpartum care, and addressing uncomfortable issues such as fistula are topics she also hopes to report on.
As one of the most diverse populations in the world with over 83 distinct languages and 200 dialects, Ethiopia shares a unique history, society, culture, environment, economy and governance that is unlike her neighbors. We are honored to have been selected as new media reporting fellows for this trip to Ethiopia, and look forward to sharing our newfound knowledge with you during our upcoming trip.
We would love for you to follow along our journey at #EthiopiaNewborns !
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom.
State of the Worlds Mothers Report Cover Photo By Phil Moore
The 15th annual State of the World’s Mothers Report was released last week by Save The Children, just in time for Mother’s Day, and World Moms Blog was there at the launch. The focus of the 2014 report is on saving mothers in humanitarian crisis, and the launch of the report in New York City was co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations. In his welcome address to the room Permanent Representative H.E. Mr. Libran Cabactulan of the UN Mission of the Philippines acknowledged from first hand experience, that women and children suffer the most in crisis situations.
The report notes that worldwide women and children are up to 14 times more likely than men to die in disaster. In fact it is no surprise that also according to the report more than half of all maternal and child deaths world-wide take place in countries suffering conflict or natural disasters. As Werner Obermeyer, Deputy to the Executive Director of the WHO office to the UN stated, It is not the armed component in conflicts we are worried about, it’s those who are suffering from the armed component.
The purpose of the annual report is to further the mission of Save The Children in protecting the worlds most vulnerable mothers and children. The State of the World’s Mothers report does so by highlighting where we are failing, what effective solutions need to be put in place, and recommended policy changes towards progress. Despite the fact that 80% of the countries are not on target for achieving MDG 4 and 5, maternal and child health goals, the extreme progress seen in other countries previously failing, tells us that it is possible.
Ethiopia for example has reduced its risk of maternal death more than any other African country, by nearly two-thirds. H.E. Mr. Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia stated that the progress there was due to a well crafted policy based on the participation of people on the local level. 48,000 health extension workers were fanned out throughout the country to mobilize women volunteers in what they called the Women’s Development Army to reach remote villages. Afghanistan has also cut maternal death rates by 60-70 percent, moving up 32 places on the Mothers’ Index Rankings of the best and worst countries in which to give birth. This proves that the combined investment of minds and funding works. If these countries with terrible track records have been able to make such significant improvements, there is no reason we can not see this type of progress universally with proper programs and support.
Photo Credit: Save The Children
Climate change is the wild card that threatens even the countries that have made the most progress in maternal and child health. Climate related disasters and extreme weather are factors that can cause severe set backs in development.
The recommendations of the report call for a collaboration between governments, donor countries, international organizations, private sector and civil society to take responsibility, and each do their part to ensure mothers, and children in crisis situations have the best chance to survive, and thrive. Here is what we need to do:
1. Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care
2. Invest in women and girls and ensure their protection
3. Build longer term resilience to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health.
4. Design emergency interventions with a longer term view and the specific needs of mothers and newborns in mind.
5. Ensure political engagement and adequate financing, coordination and research around maternal and newborn health in crisis settings.
Save The children’s 15th annual State of the Worlds Mothers report comes at a pivotal moment in history, when humanitarian crises have focused a spotlight like never before on the needs of mothers and children who are struggling to survive. With record numbers of people displaced by war and conflict and increasingly severe natural disasters causing unspeakable destruction, it is clear we must do more to help the worlds poorest and most vulnerable families. We must give mothers the support they need to keep their children safe and healthy, even in the darkest times. -Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save The Children USA
You can read the State of the Worlds Mothers report in full here. See where your country falls on the Mothers’ Index Rankings here.
World Moms Blog Founder Jennifer Burden and Senior Editor Elizabeth Atalay at the State of the Worlds Mothers report launch in NYC.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Elizabeth Atalay of Documama.