All posts by Jennifer James

Jennifer James is the founder of Social Good Moms, a global coalition of 3000+ mothers who care about pressing global issues. She has written over 70 articles for the Gates Foundation and has written about women's and girls' issues for ELLE and Cosmo South Africa and Huffington Post's Impact. She has been named a Fast Company Most Generous Social Media Maven, a Nesta Mother of Innovation (UK), and a ONE.org social media gamechanger. She is a recipient of two International Reporting Project fellowships to Zambia and Tanzania and a National Press Foundation Vaccine Fellowship. James has reported about global health from Haiti, Brazil, Nepal, Ethiopia, India, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines, and Zambia. You can contact Jennifer at socialgoodmoms@gmail.com.

I Never Thought I’d Ever Say “My Mother Needs a New Kidney”

My mother with my daughters.

As long as I have been able to make an informed decision I have always listed myself as an organ donor. For me, organ donation is and has always been the obligatory box I quickly checked “yes” to.

To me, if for some unforeseen reason, I passed away suddenly and had salvageable organs that doctors could use I wanted them to go to people who could use them. Organ donation is a decision that is more complicated for some people than others, I’ve learned. That is perfectly, perfectly fine. For me, though, it has always been an absolute.

Continue reading I Never Thought I’d Ever Say “My Mother Needs a New Kidney”

Women Celebrated on This Year’s World Humanitarian Day #WomenHumanitarians

Today is World Humanitarian Day, the annual day where we celebrate humanitarians all over the world who work every day to save lives even in some of the world’s most dangerous countries. This year the world is celebrating women humanitarians as often they are on the front lines in our world’s worst crises.

We know that it can be especially harrowing to be an aid worker in countries like Syria, Yemen, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. We appreciate all of their efforts to continue to work even in dangerous circumstances. Read 24 hours of stories of women front line humanitarians on worldhumanitarianday.org.

Today, I would like to celebrate an aid worker I met in the Philippines when I traveled with World Vision USA to see their life-saving work after the devastating typhoon, Haiyan. Her name is Mai Zamora and she left an indelible impression on me. She was always upbeat despite the number of families who were in need of everything from food and jobs to housing and clothing. And, she was always available for questions and has personal stories about how she fared during the typhoon. When I met her, she was the definition of an aid worker to me along with her colleagues who are still doing amazing work in the Philippines and around the world.

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3 Ways to Gift Better Sight to Kids in Need

If you wear glasses yourself or if several people in your household wear glasses you know it can be pricey with annual eye exams and the cost of eyeglasses themselves (especially if they are designer). On average, eyeglass wearers go through a pair every year and kids go through at least two pairs per year as they grow. All that is to say that wearing eyeglasses can be rather expensive and a luxury that some people cannot afford.

Since August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month I wanted to highlight three organizations that work diligently to gift better sight to those in need.

New Eyes: New Eyes is a female founded and run non-profit, celebrating their 87th anniversary this year.  Their goal is to bring clear vision – eyeglasses – to adults, kids and families throughout the world.   When asked what sets them apart from other organizations they proudly say that they serve their local community and the world from just one location in New Jersey.

Ways You Can Help: You can donate gently-used frames for their missions overseas. And, you can also make a monetary donation so they can provide vouchers for new glasses to those at and below the poverty line.

Warby Parker: While Warby Parker isn’t a nonprofit they have used their know-how about reducing the cost of eyeglasses and turned it into providing four million eyeglasses to people in need around the world. Their business model also helps low-income people sell radically inexpensive eyeglasses and earn a living in low-and-middle income countries.

Ways You Can Help: If you are in need of new eyeglasses consider buying your next pair from Warby Parker. You buy a pair and they give a pair through their partnerships stateside and abroad.

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The Best and Worst States to Have a Baby

Image by Uzuri Art.

I write about maternal health a lot on Social Good Moms and sometimes I don’t write enough about newborn health. I saw some interesting information this month about the best and worst states to have a baby and thought the data was interesting to share. The data was compiled by Wallet Hub.

They compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across four key dimensions:

  • Cost
  • Health Care
  • Baby-Friendliness and
  • Family-Friendliness

Additionally, across these four dimensions, they evaluated 30 additional metrics including infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate, Cesarean deliveries, preterm birth and low-birth weight infants.

The best and worst states are listed in the table below. One of the most important things for all parents to check for is their newborn health screenings. You can find yours based on your state at Baby’s First Test. And in North Carolina, mothers can sign up for an additional two free tests ( fragile X syndrome and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA))at EarlyCheck.org. The tests are led by RTI International.

BESTWORST
1 Vermont 42 West Virginia
2
Massachusetts
43
Florida
3 North Dakota 44 Nevada
4 Rhode Island 45 Arkansas
5 Minnesota 46
Georgia
6 New Hampshire 47 Oklahoma
7 Washington 48 Louisiana
8 Colorado 49
South Carolina
9 Connecticut 50 Alabama
10 Utah 51 Mississippi

Best vs. Worst

  • Mississippi has the lowest average annual cost for early child care, $3,192, which is 4.9 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at $15,515.
     
  • Alaska has the lowest share of childbirths with low birth weight, 6.19 percent, which is 1.9 times lower than in Mississippi, the highest at 11.60 percent.
     
  • The District of Columbia has the most obstetricians and gynecologists (per 100,000 residents), 25, which is 25 times more than in Oklahoma, the fewest at 1.
     
  • Massachusetts has the highest parental leave policy score, 160, while 9 states, such as Alabama, Michigan and South Dakota, tie for the lowest at 0.

To learn about the data visit WalletHub.com.

To Combat Climate Change Ethiopia Plants Over 350 Million Trees in 12 Hours

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

Chinese Proverb

One of my favorite countries in the world is Ethiopia. I have had the pleasure of visiting four times traversing the north and south and find it gorgeous in so many regions. I cannot wait to go back one day to see all of its rapid changes.

Yesterday, civil servants, volunteers, and everyday people worked together in the Prime Minister’s Green Legacy effort to plant over 350 million diverse, indigenous trees in all regions across the country. The original goal was to plant 200 million trees. That was quickly exceeded by over 150 million more trees planted in 12 hours eclipsing India’s previous tree-planting record. Officials were charged with counting all planted seedlings throughout the country according to the BBC.

Having seen firsthand how Ethiopia has massively scaled their maternal healthcare across the country with frontline health workers it is no surprise this tree-planting effort was a record-setting success. The reforestation initiative was devised to tackle the increasing degradation and deforestation across Ethiopia. The overall goal is to plant two billion plants and is a countrywide effort to help reach Sustainable Development Goal 13 of taking urgent action against climate change.

All photos (except in tweet): Jennifer James