Tuesday, March 03, 2015

MSF Launches Global Women's Health Multimedia Feature

"Because Tomorrow Needs Her" Explores Multiple Health Challenges Affecting Women

[Press Release] - In advance of International Women's Day on March 8, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today launched Because Tomorrow Needs Her, a multimedia initiative focused on improving access to women's health care worldwide.
In videos, photos, and stories of patients and medical workers, Because Tomorrow Needs Her, calls attention to the shocking loss of women's lives in many of the countries where MSF works.  Every day, approximately 800 women and girls die of preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
"It is unconscionable that in many parts of the world today, women have no access to quality obstetric care, when providing it is not complicated," said Séverine Caluwaerts, an MSF obstetrician/gynecologist. "High impact, yet low-cost interventions by trained health staff can have a dramatic impact on maternal mortality."
To cite one example: In 2012, MSF initiated ambulance referral systems in parts of Burundi and Sierra Leone. These countries have some of the world's highest rates of maternal mortality and feature very few hospitals or qualified medical workers. However, once women experiencing complications in childbirth could take an ambulance to a hospital with trained staff, where services such as surgery and blood transfusions were available, the maternal mortality rate in the districts dropped by more than 60 percent.
Because Tomorrow Needs Her bears witness to the barriers that women and girls face in seeking essential medical care in many communities where MSF works, whether they are due to poverty, conflict or cultural norms.
Photographers Martina Bacigalupo, Patrick Farrell, Kate Geraghty and Sydelle Willow Smith captured images and videos of women in Burundi, Haiti, Malawi, and Papua New Guinea, working with MSF medical teams. Patients and medical workers wrote first-person reflections from the front lines of the crisis — such as villages and clinics in Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
The specific health challenges that women face go far beyond childbirth. Because Tomorrow Needs Her also looks closely at MSF's experience with pre- and post-natal care, obstetric fistula, unsafe abortion, sexual violence, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Obstetric fistula alone affects untold millions of women and girls and remains largely neglected. A consequence of prolonged, obstructed labor, an obstetric fistula is an opening between the vagina and the bladder or rectum, causing lifelong incontinence if left untreated.
Bacigalupo photographed women before, during and after surgery for obstetric fistula in Burundi, over the course of several months. Many of the women are isolated by society, forced to live separately or shunned by neighbors because of their incontinence.
"What struck me is the strength with which these women try to preserve their dignity, long before they meet any doctor who tells them it is possible to have a normal life," Bacigalupo said.
Because Tomorrow Needs Her also devotes a chapter to unsafe abortion, which is one of the top five causes of maternal mortality worldwide. Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Patrick Farrell documented the rise of abortions that are self-inflicted or performed by nonmedical personnel in Haiti, where laws prohibit the procedure and economic barriers prevent access to proper health care services. Such issues are not unique to Haiti, nor are the consequences.
"On a daily basis, MSF staff in hospitals and emergency rooms the world over see women and girls with complications from unsafe abortions …"  write Caluwaerts and Catrin Schulte-Hillen, who leads MSF's working group on reproductive health and sexual violence care. "They require immediate medical care, and sometimes surgical interventions and blood transfusions, to save their lives."
In total, MSF operates 131 projects worldwide that provide dedicated emergency obstetric services in areas where other health systems are nonexistent or are severely affected by conflict or neglect.
Bacigalupo and three MSF women's health experts — Caluwaerts, Schulte-Hillen and Africa Stewart (see bios below), will speak about the project in a March 4 panel discussion at Pace University in New York City. Journalist Nina Strochlic of The Daily Beast will moderate.  Admission is free but registration is required at www.pace.edu/tickets. The event, co-sponsored by Pace University's Student Government Association and the Pace University Rotaract Chapter, will also be webcast live at 7:30 p.m. EST, at doctorswithoutborders.org/tomorrowneedsherwebcast.
An exhibit of the photographers' work will be open to the public from March 4 to 10 at Pace University's Schimmel Center.
The full multimedia project, Because Tomorrow Needs Her, can be viewed online at womenshealth.msf.org.
Panelist bios:
Martina Bacigalupo studied photography at the London College of Communication. She lives in Burundi, where she works as a freelance photographer, often in collaboration with international NGOs. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Sunday Times Magazine, Le Monde, Vanity Fair, Esquire, Liberation, Internazionale, and has been shown in several international venues, including PARIS PHOTO 2013, UNSEEN, Amsterdam 2014, and AIPAD New York 2014. She won the Canon Female Photojournalist Award in 2010 and the Fnac Award for photographic creation in 2011.
Dr. Séverine Caluwaerts is a gynecologist-obstetrician and one of the referent gynecologists for MSF. Prior to joining MSF, she spent a year of her residency in South Africa where she cared for a large population of HIV-positive women. She has completed assignments for MSF in Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Burundi, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. When she is not on mission, she works with HIV-positive pregnant women in Belgium and is involved in teaching medical students and midwives.
Catrin Schulte-Hillen has worked for MSF as a midwife, project coordinator and project manager in conflict and post-conflict contexts in Africa, Latin America, and the Balkans. She is the leader of MSF's reproductive health and sexual violence care working group. Prior to that, Schulte-Hillen was a program director for MSF-USA and worked for several years as a health advisor and consultant for MSF, the European Commission, and other NGOs. She is a licensed midwife and holds a Masters of Public Health, a license in applied epidemiology and statistics, and a degree in business administration.
Dr. Africa Stewart is a wife and mother of three who graduated with honors from The Johns Hopkins University. She completed her medical degree and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Drexel University and Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. Dr. Stewart joined MSF in 2011 and has completed assignments in Sudan, South Sudan and Nigeria. She is an outspoken supporter of women's rights and specializes in obstetric fistula prevention and repair.  She continues to serve her local communities with adolescent outreach and education.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Opportunity For Young Leaders: Satyagraha Institute Announces Nonviolence Training Program

Training Leaders in the Traditions of Nonviolence

Satyagraha Institute (satyagrahainstitute.org) announces its first summer institute, to be held August 2 -22, 2015 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The program will provide leaders interested in nonviolent social change an opportunity to deepen their understanding, skills, commitment, and community.

Mohandas Gandhi, who famously experimented with the possibilities of nonviolence, coined the Sanskrit term satyagraha, or truth-force, to identify a method of social change. Satyagraha is a way of directly engaging with others to work out the difficult aspects of life without resorting to coercion, harm, or ill intention.

The summer learning experience will be rooted in a course of study, the arts, community life, and the inner life. Resident faculty and a variety of visiting resource people will guide the exploration of nonviolence in the traditions of Mohandas Gandhi, indigenous spirituality and culture, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement, and various spiritual traditions. Training will also be provided in conflict prevention and tools for conflict resolution.

Faculty include: M.P. Mathai, a well-known Gandhian scholar from India; Darlene Pipeboy, a Dakota elder and pipe keeper; Amelia Parker, Executive Director of Peace Brigades International; Priscilla Prutzman, Executive Director of Creative Response to Conflict; Clare Hanrahan, an author and organizer with the New South Network of War Resisters; and Fernando Ferrara, founder Mesa de Paz in Mexico.

The institute is designed for leaders of groups, organizations, movements, and communities. The program also welcomes promising young people who are likely to be future leaders.

The application deadline is May 31, 2015. Space is limited, so early application is suggested. In order for this program to remain affordable, it relies heavily on donor contributions. Satyagraha Institute welcomes contributions via its website, satyagrahainstitute.org. Contact: Carl Kline, Program Coordinator Satyagraha Institute (605) 692-8465 carlek@mchsi.com info@satyagrahainstitute.org satyagrahainstitute.org

Sunday, February 01, 2015

How To Change The World...

"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world."

- Unknown Monk (1100AD)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

On Ideas Whose Time Has Come & Feminine Leadership - Jess Rimington

Here is to a productive week ahead!!

I hope you are inspired by these words of a beautiful leader and friend:

Jess, Ashima and Jen-- OWYP team- Disney World, Florida USA 2007

"Our dream came true and we proved something very important: independent of who you are or where you come from, independent of the world being in economic crisis, if you never give up, have a business plan that works, stick to your ethics, and have a strong culture, then a community, together, can birth an idea whose time has come." Jess Rimington, founder One World Youth Project.

"I have come to believe that at this particular moment in human history the world needs more feminine leadership, embodied in and demonstrated by both women and men. The art of feminine leadership is to give space so that the flame burns brighter, to witness so that there is safe space, to trust so that others trust themselves, to give power so that power multiplies, and to leave when the time to leave has come." Jess Rimington, Founder One World Youth Project.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Organizations In Nigeria: Host A Fellow For Short-term Africa-based Internship Program

Last year, the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, part of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative, brought 500 young leaders from every country in Sub-Saharan Africa to the U.S. for 6 weeks of leadership training, including 44 leaders from Nigeria.  USAID is supporting these Fellows after they return to Africa with one year of professional development opportunities, including an Africa-based internship program. 

IREX, a non-profit organization working with the U.S. State Department and USAID to implement the Mandela Washington Fellowship, is looking to identify hosts for short-term professional internships for these young leaders, who are between 25-35 years of age and come from diverse backgrounds.  Internships last between 2-6 months, and companies/organizations should commit to engaging Fellows on a substantive project for a mid-career professional during the internship.  If your organization is interested in hosting a Fellow for a professional internship, please email WFAlumni@irex.org.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Activism In Nigeria And The Movie "Into The Woods"

Activism ac·tiv·ism\ˈak-ti-ˌvi-zəm\
: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. (SOURCE: Merriam-Webster).

In Nigeria, I have seen a certain pattern of activistm- fist-pounding standing on the pedestal- screaming for change long enough until the change comes. But the change comes in form of a government appointment. And the activist's voice is blown into silence as he/she soon starts frolicking with the ideologies and acts that he/she once strongly fought against.

Activism is not for everyone. Infact, some people that like to label themselves as activists are not even one. Like me. I am not an activist. But I've been in the past labeled so because of my active participation in development sector. It sounded sexy at the time. But the older I get and the more it seems that the issues real activists have been strongly opposing are not even bulging. Or maybe they are, albeit in trickles.

We must give way and let the activists be activists.

Activism is not a game. If pursuing government appointment is the sole reason for wearing the badge of activism, then please get into the government and change things. Don't just get in and become praise-singers.

Should activists be partisans in the first place? Hunger and poverty is too much in Nigeria.

The movie, "Into the Woods," is a good one. It is a really funny movie (musicals) but somehow I managed to see Nigeria in it.

Two scenes stood out: The part where a woman and her blind daughters opted to run off and hide while others chose to stay and fight the giant. If I recall her words correctly, "Some people are cut out to fight giants...," she said and asked that they call her when the "war" was over... the other scene that stood out was the "the blame-game." This is very common in Nigeria. How did the giant come down? Who planted the seed that grew into a gigantic tree into the sky? Even though some benefitted from the circumstances that led to the event, everyone shared in the blame-game as they tried to find the culprit.

Oh well. It is a new year. In a few weeks, we'll be electing a new set of government leaders.

The world awaits.

Happy New Year Nigerians and fellow global citizens!

May our joy be full.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Wish Us Well

It has been a great year of learning,
and dreaming.

there is room for growth.

I praise God for His faithfulness towards me and my family. For it is by His Mercy and Grace that we are still standing.

Dear friends,
May this Christmas be merry for you & your family.
And may the New Year usher in good tidings and joy, indescribable.
Ni agbara Jesu! Amin.

I appreciate everyone,
for the role you played in my life this year.
I appreciate me for still believing,
even when it rained on my parade.
My faith is strengthened,
I have a Wonderful Counsellor.

Is there any sick among us?
May you find complete healing this season.
May your oil of gladness not dry up.
May the hurting be restored,
and made whole.
May the lost come to themselves
like the prodigal son did,
and remember the way home.
May the cursed draw to Jesus Christ,
the original curse breaker.
Nothing is unredeemable, with Him.

Heaven wants to see a smile upon your face,
Every thing else matters not at all.


Live love!