DAYS FOR GIRLS: BREAKING STIGMAS ABOUT MENSTRUATION
Our last project of 2018 benefited Days for Girls International in western Nepal. We raised $15,082 to support their programs designed to fight dangerous stigmas and unhealthy cultural practices surrounding menstruation. With the help of local DfG leaders, women and girls are more informed about periods, changing thinking about the practice of chhaupadi, and speaking up for themselves in an effort to live fuller, safer lives. The project also creates sustainable income for women who can sell DfG kits in their communities.
FREE THE GIRLS: TRUE FREEDOM FROM TRAFFICKING
For the summer of 2018, we raised $8,323 to support Free The Girls, a nonprofit that aims to help women rescued from sex trafficking reintegrate into their communities. When Free The Girls’ founders cast the vision to see a world in which previously enslaved women are able to lead vibrant, successful lives, they asked this question: What are these women being rescued TO? Our grant will provide matching funds for women who have completed a two-year program, started bra-selling business, and saved a significant amount of money to build homes, buy land, or start university.
HEARTLINE MATERNITY CENTER: PRENATAL TO POSTPARTUM PROGRAM
For our first project of 2018, we partnered with Heartline Ministries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Our community granted $14,306.40 to support 32 women through the 13-month program. Each woman accepted into the program will receive prenatal care, labor and delivery services with certified midwives and nurses, six months of weekly postpartum care, child development education, and breastfeeding support.
ONE REFUGEE CHILD: SCHOOL LIBRARIES
In fall of 2017, Somebody's Mama partnered with One Refugee Child to buy books for school libraries. Syrian refugee children living in Istanbul, Turkey face the challenges of language barriers, war trauma, cultural differences, and overall acceptance in a new land. Somebody's Mama granted ORC $10,604.14, covering the costs associated with supplying English, Arabic, and Turkish books to 15 schools. ORC was able to purchase the books from a local vendor at a discounted cost, and the books will be read by approximately 4,500 children.
LOVE WITHOUT BOUNDARIES: SOKHEM SIBLING SCHOOL
In the summer of 2017, we partnered with Love Without Boundaries to build the Sokhem Sibling School in a remote village on the border of Cambodia and Thailand. Working mothers cross into Thailand every day to find work. Their older children stay behind to care for the younger children. The sibling school will provide a place for babies and toddlers to receive care, nutritious meals, and minor medical care freeing their older siblings to go to school for the first time. The school will also boost the local economy by providing jobs for seven women and creating demand for food purchased from farmers in the area. LWB procured funding from another source to buy the land needed, and our community raised $14,320 to purchase the materials needed the build the school. Click here to read a recent update.
THREADS OF KINDNESS: SEWING SCHOOL
In early 2017, we partnered with Threads of Kindness to purchase machines and implements for a sewing school in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti. We granted $10,030 to the sewing school, which provides jobs for orphans who have aged out of the system and also provides uniforms to 4,000 school children living in 13 different Haitian orphanages. Economic empowerment and education are the key to lifting people out of poverty!
PREEMPTIVE LOVE COALITION: SISTERHOOD SOAP
In the fall of 2016, we partnered with Preemptive Love Coalition to grant funding for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to start soap-making businesses. The Sisterhood Soap enterprise is helping these women rebuild their lives after losing nearly everything in the midst of ongoing conflict. We granted PLC $10,200, all of which will provide training and supplies for women to make soap to sell, enabling them to support their families.
To read more about our involvement with PLC, check out pages 16-18 of their 2017 first quarter impact report.
BARHD: PLACENTA PIT AN MOMMY KITS
FOR MAMAS IN BWEJU, UGANDA
In the summer of 2016, we partnered with the Bushenyi Alliance for Rural Health and Development by raising $5,000 to build a placenta put in the rural village of Bweju, Uganda. Placenta pits ensure the safe disposal of after birth to prevent the spread of blood borne diseases. We also sent enough money to buy the supplies for 200 "mommy kits" that will be distributed to pregnant mothers in the village. The free gift opens communication between medical professionals and the community that leads to safer birth practices and education about prenatal and postnatal issues.
ONE MILLION THUMBPRINTS: IBBA, SOUTH SUDAN
In the spring of 2016, we partnered with One Million Thumbprints to fund agribusiness loans for women in South Sudan who are trying to rebuild their lives after war. As part of the project, co-founder, Leia Johnson, wrote an e-book her time spent in Rwanda and the DRC, as well as the adventure up and down the mountain, which is available for download HERE. Our community raised $22,444.01--enough to grant 935 women loans to start their businesses.
TAMAR PROJECT OF FREESET GLOBAL: KOLKATA, INDIA
Women who are transitioning from life in the sex industry receive healthcare, literacy and numeracy instruction, budgeting classes, educational support for their children, and one-on-one and group therapy. Our community funded training for the social and medical workers who directly influence the women of Sonagacchi. Every single woman who walks through the doors of the Tamar Project center will benefit from the support of highly trained workers.
THONGLONG SCHOOL: MANIPUR, INDIA
In 2014, we started a partnership with Thonglong School in northeast India. Our partners at 4HIM, needed $3,000 to finish a new school building. Pictured above are some of the students and teachers from the school in front of the old building made of bamboo and dirt floors, and the picture below is of the new building with a firm foundation and real walls. Somebody’s Mama was able to do a matching fund grant of $1,500, allowing 4HIM to procure the remaining funds. The school is the first of its kind in the area, and the students are performing well.
COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE WORKERS: UGANDA
In spring of 2015, our community focused on economic empowerment, partnering with The Adventure Project to “hire” 30 Ugandan women to become community healthcare workers. The mamas we hired will complete a training program through Living Goods to learn how to diagnose and treat the majority of preventable illnesses plaguing their neighbors. Then, once they pass the government-licensing test, they are able to sell over 60 different health products in their community, at prices that are affordable to the poor. They sell everything from malaria meds, fortified food to solar lights. Often, this is the first skilled health worker to live in the community. For the first time, hundreds of households have someone nearby when their kids get sick. Once they are working, each woman will care for an average of 700 people in her community, paying special care to pregnant mothers and children. After the health care promoter is working, she earns a living from the commission of her sales. She is thriving and self-sufficient.
KALAVERIA SCHOOL: BADOUGHBE, TOGO
Kalaveria School was started in 2006 with a handful of students--this was a challenge early on as many families needed children to work the farmland and were not convinced that sending their children to school had value. At the time we chose this project, over 300 students were regurlarly attending the school in the current two-building structure. With more students coming to the school steadily, they were in need of a new space--a good problem to have. At that time, the youngest children were crammed into a standing room only set up, with walls made of palm leaves, a dirt floor, and no desks. Having invested many years into the Badoughbe community with 4HIM, we jumped at the chance to team up with some of our favorite partners and kiddos and make this much needed space a reality. Because of our circle of mamas, this new building is now a reality for some kindergarten kids in a small West African village.
GARDENVIEW MATERNITY WARD: MAKENI, SIERRA LEONE
Sierra Leone’s maternal and infant mortality rates are among the worst in the world. Much has been done to improve these numbers in the past decade, but they still fall short of the World Health Organization’s Millenium Development Goal of reducing mortality rates by 75% by 2015. Despite the fact that Sierra Leone launched a program to provide free healthcare for all pregnant and post-natal women in 2010, the problem remains that 42% of births are still delivered at home without the aid of trained physicians, midwives, nurses, or aids. It is simply too difficult for many of these women to travel the distance to the nearest hospital or clinic.
In April of 2014, Somebody's Mama partnered with Dr. Abdullah Daniel Sesay (Dr. ABD) of the Gardenview Clinic in Makeni Sierra Leone to launch our first major focus project campaign. Dr. ABD has already been providing the best level of prenatal and postnatal healthcare possible at his clinic, as well as saving the lives of women suffering from cancers and other tumors through surgery. Recently, a Swiss foundation has offered a great deal of funding to hospitals in Sierra Leone that have functioning maternity wards. Helping Dr. ABD finish his maternity ward opened the door for him to partner with another organization willing to grant funding for the hospital. Our Mamas rolled out in full force for this first major project, and we were able to completely fund this maternity ward in six weeks.
CEHBED ORPHANAGE: LOME, TOGO
Our founder, Leia Johnson, has been working with the CEHBED Orphanage in Lome, Togo since 2003. Through her work with 4HIM, we have developed personal relationships with the children and directors of this amazing center. Celestine and Mawuli Mawussi have done an incredible job of building a home for these beautiful kids, and we applaud their efforts in raising them to succeed in life once they age out of the orphanage.
In March of 2014, Somebody's Mama took a small team to Togo, West Africa. One purpose of the trip was to travel with Steve Hollingsworth, founder of 4HIM, in order to follow up on some projects that were near completion in the area. Another reason we traveled to Togo again was to begin to identify ways that we could partner with our already established relationships from the new perspective of our vision for Somebody's Mama. We took a small amount of donor funds with us, anticipating the opportunity to solve problems along the way.
One of the projects that has been sucessfully implemented at the CEHBED Orphanage is a seamstress/tailor training program. The goal is for interested children to learn this valuable skill, so that when they age out of the orphanage, they will have a learned skill to help them successfully launch into adulthood. Over time, the original sewing machines have moved on with graduating kids. We arrived in March to discover that they had now only one machine on which to train seven people. With part of the funds donated by our community, we were able to purchase 2 more machines for this appreticeship program.
One of board members, Jamie Holaday, had the opportunity to visit the CEHBED orphanage in 2008. Mama Jamie shared her desire for the CEHBED orphanage to have a library. She sent three popular picture books in French with us. Inspired by her generosity, we set out to buy enough books to outfit a real library, not only stimulating the local economy but also exposing our kiddos to reading for pleasure for the first time.
Well, THAT was easier said than done. Books, especially GOOD and beautiful books, are difficult to come by in Lomé, Togo. Not suprisingly, the concept of reading for pleasure is not a well adopted one, due to the high levels of illiteracy and poverty that exist in West Africa. After a full day of searching and negotiating, we were able to purchase another 25 books that we felt would inspire the kids to develop a love for reading. We are excited to see that Celestine and Mawuli have actually transformed a room in the orphange to be devoted to reading and look forward to continuing to supply them with beautiful French books for years to come.
On a side note, the kids were ECSTATIC when we also pulled out twelve new soccer balls. Another board member, Sarah Welker, sent some love courtesy of her then eight-year-old son, Cal, who instructed us to "buy something for the kids to play with." Books+football=happy kids!
KATANGA FISHING VILLAGE: LOME, TOGO
During that same trip, we visited our friends in a fishing community in Lomé. Pastor James and his family run sustainable businesses that employ members of their community and have facilitated micro-loan programs for widows and single mothers. In the Katanga fishing village, 4HIM helped Pastor James build a church, which serves as a true community center for many things, where they had been meeting in an open air hut that was vulnerable to the elements.
While we were in Togo, we spent some time with our friend, James, in the fishing village. The village is made up primarily of widows and children, and we wanted to do something simple to make their day better. Through the generous donations of our Mamas here in the U. S., we were able to gather these women together and deliver them over 500 meals of corn and rice. It was our first step of reaching out to them to connect as women. Because, when you peel back all of the cultural differences between us, we're not so different after all. We all dream of a better life for our children, strive to keep healthy food on our tables, and want to live a happy and healthy existence on this earth. That day, gathered together as women, we established the first cross cultural meeting of Somebody's Mama. Women to women.
KALAVERIA SCHOOL: BADOUGHBE, TOGO
When we talk about “changing lives” or “changing the world,” our organization believes in empowering people to do the hard work of changing their communities. Our partner on this trip, 4HIM, has a history of giving a hand up, rather than a hand out to our neighbors and friends. We have learned from them that when we approach giving in this light, everyone learns, everyone feels loved, and everyone wins. In rural Badoughbe, 4HIM built the first school in the community and started a poultry farm that will make the school self-sustaining.
When we visited Badoughbe this go around, we helped with some work around the poultry farm and were able to help install a drip irrigation system in the school/community garden near the school. This community garden will in part contribute to growing crops that will help sustain the chickens in the poultry barn by providing a local food source. It was on this visit that we learned of a great need to build a kindergarten addition at the Kalveria School due to overcrowding of students. This is a good problem to have. We eventually decided to adopt this school expansion as our second major focus project for education.
INFANT NUTRITION CRISIS:
CABECAR INDIAN RESERVE, COSTA RICA
Shortly after launching Somebody's Mama, we were contacted by Colleen Mitchell, a Mama serving in Costa Rica. She shared a story about a young mother whose milk supply was not ample enough to feed her baby, something rare among the Cabecar women, who typically breastfeed exclusively for two years with each child and something that meant almost certain death for her baby. Within a couple of days ten Mamas had donated $400 to purchase formula for the baby’s first year of life. This tiny effort made a life-changing impact on a Costa Rican Mama, embodying the spirit of Mother Theresa who famously said, “We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.”
Several months later, Colleen posted on Facebook that “Thanks to your help and support, baby Sabrina is thriving and was released in to well baby care at her last check up...our friends at Somebody’s Mama have ensured through their support that Noemy will be able to supplement with the formula Sabrina needs for her whole first year! The infant mortality rate among the Cabecars in five times higher than the national rate in Costa Rica and equals that in nations such as Tanzania. With your help, the St. Francis Emmaus Pregnancy Hostel is taking that down one baby at a time.”
PLACENTA PIT: UGANDA
Somebody's Mama was inspired by this woman, Amy Williams, when our co-founder, met her at a ONE.org meeting in Oklahoma City. Leia listened while Amy told a story about a project that her organization, BARHD, had started. They built a rural maternity ward and needed a placenta pit, a place to store afterbirth, so as to limit blood-borne diseases. Leia called and emailed her friends, and they raised the money to built this placenta pit!