“Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” — Stevie Wonder
There are countless reasons why being a mama is important. Reasons for the woman, the family, and the community. Ask any child, husband, sister, or mama herself, and you’ll get a flood of emotions, memories, and respect that is unparalleled.
With Mother’s Day only weeks away, we’re not just thinking about why our own mamas are important, but why each mama we work with around the world is so vitally important for their family and their community. Their importance makes them a central part of why we do what we do.
We thought we’d share a few examples of what we do, and how we’re helping them be the best mamas they can be.
In 2000, we created the Casa Materna in the rural, western highlands of Guatemala to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Since it began, the Casa has literally saved the lives of hundreds of mamas and their babies as well as strengthened and empowered numerous Guatemalan communities.
The Casa provides critically needed reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services. Women with high-risk pregnancies are referred to the Casa for care and monitoring during the final weeks of their pregnancies and are then transferred to the neighboring district hospital for delivery. In addition, the Casa supports community education and networks of women’s support groups.
Pre-term birth is the #1 cause of death for children under 5 around the world. Every Preemie is leading the charge to improve what we know about pre-term birth so we can stop it from happening and help mamas who have pre-term babies.
We’re bringing together experts from around the world to address gaps in knowledge, overcome bottlenecks to implementation, and reduce the number of pre-term babies worldwide. A toolkit is being developed detailing how to address pre-term birth rates – which has never been done before. We’re also looking at the policies and services provided in 24 countries to better understand global best practices in newborn health programs.
Our Women Empowered Initiative is a global effort to promote the economic and social empowerment of women through the formation of self-managed and self-sustaining savings groups.
The Initiative provides training to group participants in savings, lending, and entrepreneurship. Regular group meetings provide a platform for social support and individual leadership development, enabling women to become powerful agents of societal transformation within their communities. Women who are empowered become solutions to poverty, poor health, and most importantly, better mamas for their families.
Even here in San Diego County, we’re leading more than 70 agencies to transform health care delivery to pregnant women and children under two. The California Border Healthy Start project helps mamas provide their babies with the best possible start in life, offering access to needed resources, services, and education that empowers women and strengthens families.
The project focuses on women in underserved areas of central and east San Diego County that have the highest rates of poverty and lowest rates of education and healthcare access. In addition to one-on-one home visiting and group support, women also are offered the assistance of a doula (a birth coach), support for depression and domestic violence, personal health planning, and training in financial and computer literacy, so they can be the mama they want to be.