Empowered Mothers Take Charge

As we sat and spoke with women at the counseling session on a warm day in Pakistan last week, it was clear to me that these women knew what they wanted—for themselves, for their families, and especially for their children. About 20 women, some in bright shalwar kamaz and others in dark burkas, sat under the shade next to a health facility. We discussed a topic important to millions of women the world over: how to build their families and plan for the future by thinking carefully about when to have children.

 

I was frankly surprised at the openness and candor of the women as I asked them sensitive questions about the decisions they make themselves and with their husbands, and the pros and cons of the available options. Pakistan remains a conservative society in many ways, but here the women demonstrated knowledge and understanding about the issue, and recognized how important it is to have the right to make reproductive decisions for their families. A mother’s choices have dramatic impact on the well-being of her children, which is why Save the Children works on the issue of family planning
with women around the world. For any mother, the health of her children—especially newborns—is affected by the age at which a mother first gives birth, adequate time between births, and the number of children she has.

 

This session was part of a comprehensive project Save the Children is implementing with the government in Haripur district, which rehabilitates health units to provide basic health services for pregnant mothers and newborns. The facility we visited earlier in the day is one of the most impressive facilities I have seen anywhere in the world at the primary care, or village, level. The spotlessly clean unit is staffed by two female doctors and several nursing staff as well as a pharmacist. A warehouse stocked with supplies is available on-site and the facility provides services 24/7 as needed. Women come here for prenatal visits, for family planning counseling and products, and to give birth in a simple, clean and safe facility with excellent care. Three women were in labor the day I visited and when I saw the care they received, I knew I would have felt comfortable having one of my own children there. In fact, in this district, almost 30% of mothers choose to give birth in the two primary care units that are part of this program. The other 71 facilities in the area account for about 60% of births and a small percentage of women go to district level hospitals. Clearly, many women in Haripur are choosing the quality and service they now find right in their own communities.

 

The challenge for our team in Pakistan now is how to expand our efforts beyond the two model centers, working with the government to implement the improvements we’ve made here across the entire district. We need to bring this effective model of health services to other poor communities where far too many children are still dying in the first critical month of life. If you would like to learn more about our maternal and newborn health programs, and the local health workers who are making a difference, please click here.

 

 

The Real Sponsorship: Not Money but Commitment









Angie Montes

Angie Montes, Communications Officer

El Salvador

August 26, 2013


Our
daily routine: drive a truck to distant communities where we’re met by enthusiastic
children, parents and teachers eager to partner with us to achieve a better
quality of life. But some days are particularly rewarding, and I want to tell
you about one.

 

 

 

March
21st was not just another regular visit to Caserío San Antonio Arriba
in Ahuachapán department, especially for 5-year-old Brenda and her sponsoring
family from the United States, Ana Flores and her daughter Camila.

 

Brenda
and her curious peers were waiting for the “foreign lady” to come through the door.
Surrounded by kindergarteners, they finally met! Although I frequently hear about
sponsor/sponsored child relations built through letters, it was a different
feeling when an excited Ana hugged Brenda and said, “I´m Ana, your sponsor.”

Ana showing Brenda and peers a picture of them

Ana showing Brenda and peers a picture of them

The
visit only lasted a few hours, but quality time was spent talking and learning
about how Brenda and her community live and about limited health/education opportunities
and other barriers in rural areas. They also talked about and how poor families
manage to move forward. It was surprising the way they understood each other, mothers
and daughters, same ages and dreams, but different potential to fulfill them.

I´m
sure that, despite her age, Brenda understood that behind that unknown face was
a tangible opportunity to better her life.

Mothers and daughters having quality time at school

Mothers and daughters having quality time at school

 

To
be honest, even after a year with Save the Children, I never realized how committed
a sponsor can be to their sponsored child. Ana Flores taught me that sponsoring
a child is about much more than a monthly donation. It’s about creating a way
for vulnerable children to attain better opportunities to succeed in life,
which is exactly what Brenda has now.

As
Ana wrote on her blog after her visit, “Getting
to meet Brenda has made our bond to her, her mom and community that much
stronger, but I truly believe that the process of sending and receiving letters
and correspondence can create a connection that's very real. As a sponsor, you
can really become part of this child's emotional life and her of yours. It's
priceless
.”

Interested in joining Ana and the rest of our community of
sponsors? Become a sponsor today!