Sitting Down With Mary Martin Niepold, Founder of the Nyanya Project

One of the wonderful things about working in social good is the people you meet. I have met some amazing people over the past few years who are doing extraordinary things, even some in my own backyard.

Yesterday I joined Mary Martin Niepold for lunch and we chatted about Africa, her non-profit organization, the Nyanya Project, her recent TED talk at Wake Forest University where she is also a lecturer in journalism, the world of social good and ideas about future action campaigns. The Nyanya Project is a partner of Mom Bloggers for Social Good.

After visiting Africa as a volunteer in 2007 Mary was compelled to do something to help the people she had met, visited and worked with. As a grandmother herself she saw that no one was thinking about the grandmothers who carry so much of the burden of Africa as mothers and fathers die from AIDS and leave their children behind to be cared for. The grandmothers are the ones who are left.

The Nyanya Project empowers grandmothers to keep their families together in the face of AIDS devastation. They help African grandmothers form working cooperatives that generate the income necessary to provide healthcare, education and a loving home for their grandchildren.

The Nyanya Project also runs a preschool in Kibera, Kenya, one of the largest slums in east Africa. Children are able to get educated before they matriculate to primary school. They also get two meals a day and some of the grandmothers also work in the preschool.

Mary and the Nyanya Project are on the cusp of opening another preschool in Rwanda and are accepting donations to move towards opening their goal. If you would like to donate to the Nyanya Project visit them at www.nyanyaproject.org.

Vote for Our Partner Shot @ Life for the Women Deliver 50

Our partner, Shot @ Life, a United Nations Foundation project that educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries, has been nominated for Women Deliver 50. Women Deliver spotlights the top 50 inspiring ideas and solutions that are making the world a better place for women and girls.

Out of over 500 submissions, a selection committee of experts and advocates from leading global NGOs and foundations chose 25 per category. Shot@Life was chosen as one of the top 25 in the Advocacy and Awareness Campaigns category. 50 winners (10 per category) will be announced on March 8th, International Women’s Day.

Please support our partner by voting on the Women Deliver Facebook page. Voting ends this Friday, March 2.

Photo copyright: Shot at Life

[Guest Post] Sarah Omega: A Fistula Survivor

Written By Elizabeth Ralston, The Inspired Philanthropist

The Setting: One by One’s sixth annual fundraiser.

The lights dimmed, the audience soon hushed, and the speaker, a young woman from Kenya, came diffidently to the podium.

Sarah Omega Photo by Louise Lakier 2011

“My name is Sarah Omega, and I am a fistula survivor.”

The details of her life came out as she told her story in a measured, steady fashion. Sarah was raped and impregnated at age 19 by a religious leader from her community. When it came time to give birth, she labored for many hours before being taken to a hospital. Unfortunately, she ended up having a stillborn baby.

Because Sarah had labored for so long, she was left with a fistula, a hole between the vagina and anus, which causes leaking of urine and sometimes feces. What she had really needed was a Cesarean section, which is unavailable to so many women in developing countries.

“I had to live with fistula for twelve years.”

During those twelve years, she struggled with feelings of rage and shame at her plight. At one point, she ended up in a psychiatric ward, severely depressed, for several weeks. Ironically, being in that place saved her.

Staff at the ward told her there was a doctor who repaired fistulas and a month later, she had her fistula repaired.

“I realized I had something to offer back to the society in my capacity as a fistula survivor.”

After Sarah told the amazing and moving story of Sylvia, a Kenyan woman who had lived with fistula for 51 years, there weren’t very many dry eyes in the audience. Check out this seven-minute movie, “We Will Come to You”, about Sarah’s journey to find Sylvia in a remote village to bring her to the hospital for fistula repair surgery. This lovely film gave me goosebumps, especially the part when Sarah says Sylvia had been “expecting” her.

Currently, Sarah is One by One’s Outreach Manager in Kenya, training regional representatives to do outreach in their communities, refer women with fistula for treatment, and provide emotional support for these women when they come home after their surgery.

They’ve had amazing success in the short time since the program began in September 2011:

30 Regional Representatives were trained and have already educated 23,000 Kenyans in just six weeks.

Over 100 women with fistula have been found. You can learn more about Sarah’s story in the following video. Also be sure to learn more about fistula from our partner, Worldwide Fistula Fund.

Donate to the Without a Fight Film and Support Carolina for Kibera

Our partner, Carolina for Kibera, an international non-profit working to alleviate poverty, develop leaders, and catalyze positive change in Kibera, Kenya, one of the world’s largest slums, is asking for your help in this week’s action campaign. They are launching a new fundraising campaign to help finish up post-production on Without a Fight a documentary featuring CFK’s Sports Association.

Without a Fight follows youth from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds as they prepare to compete in the final championship game of the season, organized by the community-led non-profit Carolina for Kibera. In order to play, teams must include players from each of Kibera’s five ethnic tribes. Despite a long history of violent conflict between these tribes, every soccer match manages to end without a fight. The teamwork and mutual respect needed to bridge Kibera’s ethnic divides start on the soccer field.

Carolina for Kibera is inviting supporters of the film to join their honorary crew. Crew members and a “crew position” of their choice will be listed in the final credit roll of the film. More importantly, funds raised from Without a Fight film screenings and DVD sales will be used to support the Carolina for Kibera soccer tournaments that are making such a difference in the lives of Kibera’s youth.

All donations are tax-deductible, and when crew members register before March 4, our donors will automatically match their donations – up to $10,000!

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