Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What We Live By

"A person is a person through other persons." -Desmond Tutu

More than 10 years ago, I took time off from school and work to spend 18 months teaching, serving and loving the people of Central and South America. It was one of the happiest times of my life. Never before had I completely given myself to something or someone in that way. My life was full and meaningful. At the same time, I felt inadequate, humbled and utterly vulnerable.

This past week, as I arrived in Senegal, those same feelings of happiness, purpose, humility and vulnerability swallowed me up. This was my first trip to Africa and I wasn’t sure what to expect, only that I didn’t want to go back home feeling like I hadn’t helped in some way. No, I wanted to roll up my sleeves and ingratiate myself with the Senegalese culture and people. I wanted to lose myself in loving and helping them.

But as it usually happens, they have been the ones to teach and love and nurture me. Last Friday, we rode over bumpy dirt roads to Daloto, a rural village on the southeastern corner of Senegal. We spent the day interviewing the local chief, mothers, and children, and preparing for the celebration of WWHI's new malaria and anemia program. We were dirty, tired and hungry, but feeling good about our day’s work. We made one last visit to the local midwife, Monique. As we entered her home (the size of my bedroom), she told us she had cooked dinner for us. Rice, fish, yams, and cold fruit juice she had made herself. We sat on the floor and ate from a big communal bowl, laughed and talked (me, mostly in charade-like hand gestures).

Afterward, we walked back to our car and were thronged by dozens of small children who held our hands and said in broken English, “I love you ... I love you.” I confess, I got teary. I love the people of Daloto. Not only because I’ve spent hours with them in their huts and hospitals, but because they have so willing loved me back.

Monique’s life work — midwifery — is about giving back, improving life, alleviating human suffering and sorrow. Her life’s work, our life’s work — to love others — is what we all live by. As Desmond Tutu, a South African activist, says: “None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family."

This is what Women’s World Health Initiative aspires to do every day through our health programs — build, heal, inspire, preserve and, yes, love.

It’s hard work, but it is all so worth it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Time to Dance

To everything there is a season. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

The time to dance came yesterday as village leaders, local midwives, community healthcare workers, and representatives from partner Oromin Joint Ventures Group (OJVG), celebrated the launch of our Community-Based Malaria & Anemia Program. Village women from the Saraya district danced, smiled, cooked, hugged and held hands. They felt hopeful and optimistic that the future won’t be as sorrowful as the past. Because where there is health, there is hope. And so we danced all day.

As the sun set, we said goodbye to our dear friends. The women thanked us, the children chased us, and we talked of the day when we will dance with them again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Bonjour from Senegal. 

We have sure started this year with a bang -  we're in Senegal implementing our CB-MAP but we are also working on a whole slew of other exciting things...

During our visit in Senegal we will be gathering footage to produce a short film! Yes, that means all the stories, photos and the integration of our program - will be taped so we can carry WWHI's mission and story around the globe. We will be capturing raw stories in villages, telling the story of Senegal; it's customs and traditions as well as showing how WWHI's CB-MAP runs. You'll hear from founder Dana Allison as well as take a bumpy ride across the safari.

Our Short has film festivals eagerly awaiting which includes our first acceptance from the Artisan Festival International World Peace Initiative in Festival de Cannes May 18-23 and in the Hamptons September 12-15.

Kathryn Peterson and Veronica Lee Anne -- two WWHI representatives -- will be producing our "No Woman, No Cry" Short.

Oh but the "tickle me pink" fun doesn't stop there! We are also capturing footage for our 1st Annual Spring Gala on April 25 in NYC. Stay tuned for all the lavish details.

Last but not least, we will be launching our volunteer program shortly; opportunities for some real hands-on experience.

Follow us on twitter as we document our trip through Senegal @ twitter.com/WWHINonprofit
Click on either of the photos above to learn more about Artisan Festival International.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year, New Beginnings

Bonjour from Senegal! Here at WWHI, we're celebrating the New Year with the launch of our long-awaited Community-based Malaria & Anemia Program (CB-MAP)!

After extensive research and forged partnerships, WWHI is introducing a new, sustainable healthcare system that will build a strong community.

Over the course of the next few months, WWHI will be training local health workers how to prevent and treat malaria and anemia. To successfully eradicate malaria and anemia, we understand there is no quick fix like mosquito nets or other medical handouts. Instead, we'll educate rural communities to become strong and self-reliant so that they can build healthy lifestyles. The other reason communities need this training is that most local hospitals are hours away and many die from lack of access to ground transportation.

We appreciate your support and look forward to updating you with the progress of our program.

To learn more about WWHI or to donate your time or in-kind donation, please visit WWHI.org.

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