Following years of involvement in global humanitarian efforts, I was privileged recently to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with some of our Congressmen to discuss the importance of preserving this line item in our U.S. budget. What fuels my passion for this work are stories like the one I share here and Christ’s compassion flowing through me for those in direst need.
In Lugala, a village that is 10km from the Dodoma Region in Tanzania, it is common for a man to disappear in thin air when the partner gets pregnant only to reappear when the baby is born. This was shared by several women who said men do not support their partners when they get pregnant. This kind of entrenched financial and social neglect of pregnant mothers has left several women struggling with pregnancies alone without much support, even in times of emergencies.
It’s not about a gleaming waiting room, with tiled floors, aircon, mounted televisions, beautiful furniture, portraits, magazines, coffee mixers and chilled water dispensers. It’s not about custom beds, cabinets and glass panelled waiting rooms with expensive lighting.
Children bear the worst impact of the crisis in northeast Nigeria. This year, an estimated 450,000 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, making them nine times more likely to die from common illnesses such as malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. The health system, damaged by fighting, is one of the biggest casualties in the emergency. Families displaced by violence struggle to get their children the help they need to survive.
I have been a midwife for the last 34 years. I work in a hard-to-reach area called Kigezi region, found in South Western Uganda, more than 500 km from Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Kigezi is very hilly. Some areas are completely inaccessible by car, and we use bicycles or motorbikes, called boda bodas. Others, not even a motorbike or bicycle can reach. And in other places, we must use boats or canoes.
For Africa, the road to prosperity must begin with investment in its most precious resource. Not its minerals, oil reserves or plantations, but something even more critical to Africa’s future: the health of its children. I don’t mean this figuratively; an investment in children’s health is precisely that. Compelling evidence now suggests that every dollar, shilling, pound or rand spent on preventing disease does not just reduce needless human suffering, but it also makes sound economic sense too.
I grew up in a generation that didn’t vote. We had collectively come to the conclusion that our voices would not matter. We knew that the things we cared about would not be addressed in the halls of power.
We partnered Friday to organize an event at the Utah State Capitol to discuss the critical leadership role that the United States plays globally and to highlight Utah’s longstanding commitment and contributions to this leadership. Whether rebuilding Europe and Asia following the devastation of World War Two, promoting economic and political freedoms throughout the Cold War or responding to the scourges of hunger and disease, the United States has embraced its role as the leading force for good in the world both as a strategy to protect and advance our national interests and as a demonstration of American values and compassion.
As a champion for women and girls, I’ve pushed to increase access to education, sanitation and health services for women and girls across Africa. Through this, I noticed that one major factor underlies success in all these areas: proper nutrition. Despite being the ones mostly in charge of cooking, women and girls are more likely to eat last and least — meaning they give up the best part of the meal to their husbands, sons and brothers before serving themselves.