Traveling across West Africa, World Vision communications manager Jonathan Bundu is collecting stories of women and children impacted by the current drought and food crisis. Below are reflections from his time in Mauritania, in a region called the Triangle of Poverty.
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People are still talking about Joseph Kony. We'll say it again: That’s a good thing.
I’m at that phase in life when a lot of my friends are having babies. Within six weeks, I will have gone to three baby showers! I’m thinking about how many prenatal doctor appointments women have in the United States -- and how many checkups and appointments most newborns have in their first year of life.
But what if there was no doctor to visit? No hospital or nearby clinic? No family doctor or trained midwife?
What would happen? Maternal and child mortality rates would go up.
Social justice is a catch-all term that has gone through many seasons of being en vogue and then going out of favor, often suffering from competing definitions and vastly different interpretations. It's like Silly Putty -- that popular substance we used to play with as kids that can be twisted and contorted into whatever shape your heart desires.
[caption id="attachment_12514" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Nicole Suka gives her 3-year-old son, Yangana, a sip of water as he receives a blood transfusion for his severe case of malaria."][/caption]
People like me, who thought the world was winning the war against malaria, might have gotten a rude awakening earlier this month following the release of a report by researchers at the University of Washington.
Have you ever asked yourself, “What am I doing to make my community, my country, and my world a better place?”
Perhaps you asked yourself something similar in your new year resolutions; or perhaps you ask it when you look at your own children. As a mother of three, I find myself doing this.
As I reflect on the words of President Obama's State of the Union address from last night, this is the question I hope we are all asking -- and doing something about it.
Tune in to your local ABC station on the evening of December 16 for a special edition of “20/20” with Diane Sawyer and ABC's Million Moms campaign as they examine modern-day health issues for children and mothers. For more from the ABC Million Moms Challenge, "like" their page on Facebook.
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As a photojournalist with World Vision through much of the 1980s and 1990s, I long ago lost count of the number of rural health clinics I have visited. The vacant looks on the faces of the mothers, too tired and stressed to focus; the babies in their arms, some crying softly, some shrieking in fear and discomfort; others -- too many -- lethargic and still, seemingly lifeless dolls on their parent’s laps or on filthy blankets on the floor of a decaying health facility.
It was hard to look into those tiny faces, some of which I knew wouldn’t survive much longer unless they received urgent medical care, which usually wasn’t available at the time.
Dr. Lisa Masterson, a host of the Emmy Award-winning TV series "The Doctors," traveled to Malawi earlier this year to work with World Vision at a local clinic. Here, she shares about her memorable experience assisting with the delivery of a baby, whose health was made possible through effective prenatal care and education.
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When I arrived, she was eight centimeters dilated. For this laboring mother, there was no cozy birthing bed, no epidural, no family member present to hold her hand. Sera, the clinic midwife, greeted me with a demure smile that I would later realize belied tremendous strength and skill.
In June, I had the privilege of serving in the Chiwamba Health Center in Malawi. The trip was the culmination of a year-long partnership with the UN Foundation and the television show I host, “The Doctors.”
For nearly a decade, I’ve made it my mission to improve child and maternal health in developing nations. I founded a charity, Maternal Fetal Care International, established clinics in Kenya and Eritrea, and worked in India. I tell you this because I want you to know that my experience with World Vision in Malawi was not new or unfamiliar, and yet it was profound.
Watching the news or following blogs like this one the last couple of months may have you more curious about the international community's efforts to improve child and maternal health world wide (or at least we hope so). This blog and our homepage have intentionally featured an ongoing focus on child and maternal health recently.
Part of the reason is because of World Vision's Child Health Now campaign that is dedicated to providing children worldwide with access to basic medical care, adequate nutrition, and disease prevention -- all so that they can grow up healthy in their communities and avoid illness or death from preventable causes.
Additionally, our partnership with the ABC News Million Moms Challenge is a focused effort to raise awareness and funds to help mothers and children survive and thrive all across the globe.
On one level, child and maternal health may seem quite basic -- as simple as providing children and mothers with nutritious food, clean water, and basic healthcare (such as immunizations and medical consultations)...
But is it really so simple? In places affected by poverty, how do you deliver solutions to the most vulnerable children and mothers?
Here in the United States, malaria is often merely thought of as an exotic, foreign disease that was eradicated from our nation in 1951.
But when asked to describe malaria in one word, a nurse at Karawa General Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had this to say:
The hospital administrator said that 80 percent of the local population carries the disease. My assignment last week was to document the needs of children in the region, because World Vision is considering working in the Karawa area.
Malaria dominated almost every situation I covered. Here is a glimpse of what it looks and feels like.
You’ve got to respect the tenacity of a babe in arms to hold up his head, focus his eyes, and grasp a grownup’s finger. An enormous amount of mental heavy lifting is going on behind those eyes, and a lot of high-quality fuel is needed to build the muscle and brain cells at work.
Mom’s milk is the perfect fuel, and it’s all that’s needed for the first six months of life. But a new report from World Vision called “The Best Start” makes clear that other simple and inexpensive measures can help ensure that millions more children get a healthy start toward a full life.
- Undernourishment is a child’s worst enemy. Around 2.5 million children die each year from a variety of ailments that can be traced back to one problem: not enough of the right nutrients.
- The first 1,000 days -- from conception to age 2 -- are critical. A child who misses out on the proper nutrients during this time will not achieve his or her mental or physical potential.
This week in Paris, world leaders are meeting at the annual G20 Summit. I'm here with my media, government relations, and child health colleagues from around the globe who work tirelessly, not just this week but every week of the year, to bring attention to child health issues around the world.
As part of our awareness campaign at this year's G20, World Vision urged Parisians to participate in a game of chance, spinning a colorful wheel to see what kind of life they might live based simply on where they were born. Chance dictates where each of us is born – and whether or not we will have enough to eat, be able to attend school, or live to see past our fifth birthday.
For some time now, the UN has estimated that today, October 31, the world’s population is set to reach 7 billion. That's a big number, but what does this mean for all of us? How much do we really know about how the rest of the world lives? If you're asking yourself these questions, start here: 7 things you should know...
1. The highest rates of population growth are in less developed countries. Too many people are born in poverty and live out their days with little hope for better lives.
2. Good news! In developing regions, the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day dropped from 46 percent to 27 percent from 1990 to 2005. Even with the economic downturn, the world is on track to meet Millennium Development Goal #1 -- to halve extreme human poverty by 2015.
The following is an excerpt from Adam Taylor's post on The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food for Thought Blog.
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This weekend, American families will be preparing their Halloween costumes and loading up on last minute candy purchases. On Monday night, most American children will be walking the dark streets in ghoulish costumes and returning home happy with bags full of sweets. For the next few weeks they will consume way more than the minimum calories (1,500 Kcal per day for a child) needed for their development while an estimated one billion people will go to bed hungry.
Maybe you're like me: You have a sudden feeling of joy every time you hear of a baby being born, or a newly announced pregnant mother-to-be. Two months ago, I sat in the hospital, awaiting the birth of my new nephew, ready to hear the sweet melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" that's played each time a baby is born.
It's the same feeling of joy I had earlier this week, hearing the announcement of the birth of the daughter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. I recall when we heard the wonderful news in May that the Sarkozys were expecting -- around the same time G8 leaders gathered in France to discuss issues of economic and global development.
At the time, my colleague, Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, was in France, representing World Vision at the G8 Summit. While there, she hand-delivered a baby gift basket intended for the French first lady. The basket included everyday items readily available to women in Western European or North American pharmacies and grocery stores -- such as hygiene supplies, safe birthing kits, and nutritious foods -- that are often inaccessible to pregnant women living in poverty in developing countries.
In a press release yesterday from my colleagues, World Vision congratulates the Sarkozys on the newest addition to their family.
World Vision New Zealand's nutrition specialist Briony Stevens has just returned from East Africa. She blogs about her experience as part of today's Blog Action Day, dedicated this year to discussion on the topic of food given that today is also World Food Day.
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World Food Day seems such a bizarre concept when you’re standing in an over-crowded refugee camp in East Africa where there is a distinct lack of anything edible. When you’re measuring the circumference of a child’s upper arm as a means of determining how malnourished they are. When you watch a mother continue to clutch her baby to her, long after he or she has passed away.
I’m often asked how I’ve been able to photograph human suffering for so much of my career and still maintain my sanity and belief in the goodness of God.
Suffering is a mystery. I’ve met many good, righteous, faithful people who have lives full of misery. My dear sister-in-law, Karen, passed away last week after years of battling cancer. She volunteered with orphans in Haiti and gave to people in need in India. She made sure her home was always open to visitors, both family and strangers, even during her illness. She was generous to a fault, wonderfully kind, encouraging, and selfless. Her life of service was lived to the glory of God. Yet she died painfully and young. Suffering is a mystery.
One thing I do know: In the midst of the worst of the worst situations, God is still there.