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EDUCATION

Why treating clubfoot results in more than mobility

8 September 2017 2:47PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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Stories and photos courtesy of MiracleFeet.

Young girls with disabilities in Africa are a population that’s vulnerable to physical abuse, sexual violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, and lack of education. Girls and women with disabilities are seldom involved in mainstream education or sexual health campaigns and are often left isolated at home during the day.

Clubfoot, a birth defect causing the feet to turn inward and upward, is one of the leading cause of physical disability in the world if left untreated. It is estimated that more than a million children are living with this disability worldwide.

A baby with untreated clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

A baby with untreated clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

Treating clubfoot in young girls results in more than just mobility; proper care provides security and opportunity for the future. Perhaps just as important, being able to walk means being able to attend school.

Princess is one example of a young girl overcoming this disability. She received clubfoot treatment as well as a scholarship at a Liberian clinic that’s supported by MiracleFeet, an organization that was recently profiled in The New York Times. Princess is six years old and will be in first grade next year.

Princess in casts, a step in the treatment process of clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

Princess in casts, a step in the treatment process of clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

“I like learning,” says Princess. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up.

Stories like hers are why MiracleFeet partners with the Faith Clinical Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center (FACORC) in Liberia — Princess was one of FACORC’s first patients in Bong County two years ago.

Another triumph can be found all the way across the continent, in the countryside of Madagascar. In February 2016, a farming family welcomed their second daughter, Sania. The doctor who delivered Sania noticed that her left foot was turned in, and identified the condition as clubfoot.

“I was worried and I cried when I saw that her foot was not normal,” says Sania’s mother, Lienne. “I was afraid that she would never receive treatment.”

Lienne holds Sania, who wears a cast to treat clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

Lienne holds Sania, who wears a cast to treat clubfoot. (Photo credit: MiracleFeet)

Fortunately, a neighbour informed Lienne that treatment was available for free at the public hospital near their home, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Toamasina (CHUT). So when Sania was two months old, her family made the journey into Toamasina — a three-hour trip by foot, followed by three hours in a taxi-brousse, or minibus.

Treatment began immediately. After four plaster casts to gradually straighten her foot, Sania was ready for a tenotomy (a simple outpatient procedure to relieve the tight Achilles tendon) in early May. She is now out of her casts and just wears a brace at night to maintain the corrected position.

Lienne looks forward to a changed future for her daughter, and plans for Sania to attend school in a couple of years, just like her 9-year-old sister.

A nurse begins to treat a baby with clubfoot. (Photo source: MiracleFeet)

A nurse begins to treat a baby with clubfoot. (Photo source: MiracleFeet)

MiracleFeet has partnered with over 150 clinics in 21 different countries. For the children in these countries, proper treatment of clubfoot has far-reaching benefits, including reducing the chances of living a life of poverty. And in the case of girls living in some of the world’s poorest areas, treating clubfoot can remove an additional barrier to getting a quality education.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted.
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TRANSPARENCY

We need to end anonymous companies once and for all

30 August 2017 3:19PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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This is a post by Ruba Ishak and Nick Goetschalckx, from ONE’s Transparency and Accountability team.

Exotic fauna and flora, crystalline waters and sandy beaches – while the European Union Institutions are on holiday, we can’t stop thinking about Panama. The Panama Papers to be specific.

panama-1308874_960_720.jpg

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was recently removed from office following corruption allegations that began after the Papana Papers revealed a complex web of anonymously owned British Virgin Island companies, and a trail of secret bank accounts and anonymous companies in Cyprus linked President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager to pro-Russian interests.

These are just a few of the most recent scandals involving anonymous companies and trusts (we wrote about some others in March). Anonymous companies and trusts play a central role in money laundering, hiding the identity of corrupt individuals and businesses involved in trafficking of arms, drugs and people, the theft of public funds and tax evasion. Every year a trillion dollars – that’s $1,000,000,000,000 – is syphoned out of developing countries through these types of corrupt activities. If this money had been taxed, the revenues could have been used to build hospitals, schools and help end extreme poverty.

Lifting the veil by publicly disclosing who is behind these mysterious webs of companies and trusts is essential in tackling corruption around the world. For this reason, ONE has been following the revision of the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) – where we’re calling for information about who really owns and controls EU companies and trusts to be made public.

We’ve been loud and visible to end secrecy – our youth ambassadors lobbied, we tweeted, and we proposed solutions, as negotiations took place in Brussels.

Brian-Hayes-1024x774.jpg

Fionnuala Egan, Youth Ambassador, Brian Hayes, MEP and Dina Dahood, Youth Ambassador

Civil society’s efforts have led to promising developments which could be a huge win for the fight against corruption. However, we need all the pieces to solve the puzzle. Citizens, journalists and governments need to see the full picture in order to be able to follow the money and root out corruption. That means public access to information about company and trust ownership.  

As negotiations continue, the coming months will prove whether the EU has the resolve to close loopholes to make new AMLD rules show the complete picture.

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SEPT. 21, 2017

Stevie Wonder’s Incredible History of Creating Change — On Stage & Off

"As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all."

By Colleen Curry

 

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We all know Stevie Wonder’s a legendary musical artist.

But what you may not know is that for practically his entire 50-plus year career, Wonder has combined the power of pop music with a deep concern for policy issues, and he has always used his work in the music industry to try and improve the world around him.

He is, in some ways, an OG Global Citizen.

After he was signed to Motown at the age of 11 — Berry Gordy nicknamed him ‘Little Stevie Wonder’ — Wonder spent his teenage years playing music and touring. At a rally in Chicago that he attended when he was 15 years old, Wonder met the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., according to Rolling Stone. His life was changed.

Read More:  Green Day Brings Its Political Activism to This Year’s Global Citizen Festival

Three years later, when King was killed, Wonder flew to Atlanta for the funeral and took up a decades-long fight to have the nation recognize King’s birthday as a national holiday. He paused his musical career to hold rallies trying to convince Congress to pass the bill, which eventually was signed by President Ronald Reagan.

“Why should I be involved in this great cause?” he said in 1981. “As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us. I’d like to ask all of you just for one moment, if you will, to be silent and just to think and hear in your mind the voice of our Dr. Martin Luther King.”

In the 1980s, Wonder helped organize and sing on the charity singles “We Are the World” and “That’s What Friends For” for famine relief and AIDS awareness, respectively.

He won an Academy Award in 1984 for a song for the film, “The Woman in Red” and dedicated the award to Nelson Mandela, which led to his music being banned in South Africa.

Read More:  Andra Day Is Rising Up as a Voice for the Voiceless

He’s sung with every music luminary of our time — Michael Jackson, Jimmi Hendrix, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Bruce Springsteen, Julio Iglesias — and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame in 1989.

And in 1995, Wonder was awarded the Nelson Mandela Courage Award.

One of Wonder’s best-known hits, the 1970 single “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” saw a resurgence in popularity and Wonder’s political activism when the song became a favorite of the first African American president, Barack Obama, at his campaign events ahead of the 2008 election.

Wonder performed at the Democratic National Convention in 2008, where Obama was officially nominated as the party’s candidate for president, and a year later, President Obama awarded Wonder the Gershwin Award for Lifetime Achievement at the white House. Obama later awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor for a US civilian.

Read More:  How Pharrell Williams Is Fighting for the Future and Making the World a Better Place

He’s made a career of philanthropy, too: working on AIDS awareness, anti-apartheid efforts, and fundraising for blind and disabled children. He served on the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Junior Blind of America and the creation of the Wonder Vision Awards Program. For over 10 years, he has provided toys for children and families in need with his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert.

When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, Wonder donated all of the proceeds from his “Shelter in the Rain” single to relief efforts.

In 2009, the United Nations named Wonder a UN Messenger of Peace.

“I recognize that he has consistently used his voice and special relationship with the public to create a better and more inclusive world, to defend civil and human rights and to improve the lives of those less fortunate,” said then-Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

“Stevie Wonder is a true inspiration to young people all over the world about what can be achieved despite any physical limitations” Ban said.

Ban and Wonder reunited, along with Bono, on the Global Citizen Festival stage in 2013in New York City’s Central Park, the three humanitarians forming a trio of representatives for the pop-and-policy model of Global Citizenship.

“My friends, there are rock stars, and there are rock stars,” Wonder said then. “And I can assure you that the secretary general is a genuine rock star. He’s a rock star in his quest to bring hope to the hopeless, consensus where there’s conflict, and peace and rights to those who suffer from hatred and despair.”

“Stevie Wonder is an amazing United Nations Messenger of Peace,” added the secretary general, who then acknowledged the crowd. “Tonight, so are you.”

When Wonder first played on a Global Citizen Festival stage, in 2013 in New York City’s Central Park, he changed the lyrics of “Superstition” to “We are global citizens, we’re going to change the world!”

That year, he left 60,000 Global Citizens who came to Central Park with a few words of inspiration. We can’t wait to hear what he has to say this year.

“We can end extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Wonder said, “because together we can work it out, and we will reach our higher ground.”

Colleen Curry is a senior editor at Global Citizen. She has covered domestic and international news for outlets including ABC News, VICE News, and The New York Times, with a particular focus on women's issues, criminal justice, and LGBT rights. She is also pursuing her Master's in Creative Writing, and has had nonfiction published by Sports Illustrated and Marie Claire.

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SEPT. 22, 2017

San Francisco Sues Oil Companies for Billions to Pay for Sea Level Rise Protection

“The bill has come due.”

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

 

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screen_shot_2017-08-23_at_22858_pm.pngGreenpeace
 

From Guangzhou in China to London in the UK, cities around the world are bracing for sea level rise so severe that it could cause mass exoduses.

For some US cities like San Francisco and Oakland, leaders refuse to shoulder the burden of mitigation and adaptation alone, according to a San Francisco city press release.  

The two coastal Californian cities are suing five major oil companies for the future costs of defending against sea level rise, arguing that these corporations directly accelerated climate change while knowing the damage they were causing and at the same time lobbying to fight climate regulations that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This behavior, according to the lawsuit, resembles the campaign of misinformation waged by the tobacco industry in the 20th century.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for the total elimination of greenhouse gas emissions. You can take action on this issue here.

Read More: The BP Oil Spill Led to the Discovery of 60 New Species in the Gulf of Mexico

Separate lawsuits have been filed against BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxonmobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips. City attorneys from San Francisco and Oakland are asking for a fund to be set up to pay for the escalating costs of climate change.

“They launched a multi-million dollar disinformation campaign to deny and discredit what was clear even to their own scientists: global warming is real, and their product is a huge part of the problem,” Dennis Herrera, San Francisco’s city attorney, told The Independent.

“Now, the bill has come due,” he said. “It’s time for these companies to take responsibility for the harms they have caused and are continuing to cause.”

By the end of the century, it’s estimated that global sea levels could rise as much as eight feet, causing billions of people to be displaced from their homes.

In San Francisco and Oakland, whole neighborhoods could be submerged, causing the destruction of billions in real estate and essential infrastructure like airports, according to analyses offered by the cities.  

Consequently, the two cities are looking to secure billions of dollars to fund necessary protection measures.

Read More: This Global Citizen of America Battles Oil Spills Around the World

San Francisco currently has a project planned for $350 million to protect coastal areas.

“Global warming is an existential threat to humankind, to our ecosystems and to the wondrous, myriad species that inhabit our planet,” Barbara Parker, city attorney for Oakland, told The Independent.

“These companies knew fossil fuel-driven climate change was real, they knew it was caused by their products and they lied to cover up that knowledge to protect their astronomical profits,” she said.

The companies targeted by the lawsuit argue that they aren’t responsible for the effects of climate change and that, in any case, lawsuits aren’t the best way to go about dealing with a globally diffused problem.

A spokesman for Chevron said that legal action would not help the fight against climate change.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global engagement and action,” Melissa Ritchie, a spokesman for Chevron, told the Los Angeles Times.

“Should this litigation proceed, it will only serve special interests at the expense of broader policy, regulatory, and economic priorities,” she said.

Read More: The Gates Foundation Divested From Fossil Fuels — And You Should Too

Other companies agreed.

"We strongly support the agreement in Paris to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius or less, but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts,” Shell said in a statement.

This lawsuit isn’t the first of its kind in the US or even in California.

Earlier in the year, three California communities filed a lawsuit against 37 fossil fuel companies for their role in stoking climate change.

How these lawsuits will play out in the courts is unknown, but there has been mounting evidence in recent years of how blame for climate change should be apportioned.

In fact, one analysis found that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. And a recent investigation found that ExxonMobil has deliberately lied for decades about climate change.

This evidence and more will likely be used against the companies in court and could sway the ultimate decision.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear — communities everywhere are getting anxious about how to cope with climate change.

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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AUG. 7, 2017

Why You Should Absolutely Never Eat Red Meat Again

It no longer makes any sense.

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

 

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You’re sitting at a picnic table on a warm summer evening, the grass is soft, and fireflies are loping in the air. Someone hands you a hamburger just off the grill, plump in a sesame seed bun with tomatoes and pickles.

It smells and looks delicious. It’s nearly impossible to resist.

But here are seven reasons why you should resist not just that hamburger, but also all red meat in general — steak, sausages, roast beef — all of it.


1/ Red Meat Is Bad For Your Health

8 deadly diseases diabetes.jpgImage: Flickr: Victor

Red meat makes you more likely to die from eight diseases — cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease, and liver disease.


2/ Livestock Accelerate Climate Change

India Heat wave.jpgImage: Flickr: Chris Ford

There are an estimated 1.5 billion cows on the planet burping up over 40 billion gallons of methane a day.

Agriculture in general generates around 15%-20% of global emissions, but the bulk of it comes from livestock because methane warms the planet at rate that is 25-34 times greater than carbon.

Read More: Americans Are Eating 20% Less Beef in Huge Win For Earth

Then there are the carbon emissions involved in transporting, storing, and preparing red meat.

If everyone in the US started replacing red meat with beans, for example, then emissions would plummet and the commitments made under the Paris climate agreement would be within reach.  

A 2014 study found that giving up red meat is more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up the use of cars. Now that’s food for thought.


3/ Factory Farms Pollute Local Environments

 

Bacterial and other forms of runoff from factory farms are some of the biggest polluters of local waterways, which can end up ruining drinking water and making humans ill.

Factory farms also cause poor air quality, which can lead to respiratory problems.


4/ Factory Farms Treat Cows Terribly

Cows in a fieldImage: Flickr: Sunny Ripert

Cows are as emotionally complex as dogs and cats, yet factory farms subject them to brutal, miserable lives where they are constantly in pain, confined to tight spaces, forced to eat enormous amounts of hormone- and antibiotic-suffused food, abused, and separated from their loved ones.

Read More: Scientists Are Making Grass So Cows Burp Less Because Climate Change


5/ Raising Livestock Drives Deforestation

stand for trees deforestation hero.jpgImage: Unsplash/ Pixabay

Agriculture takes up 40% of the Earth’s land surface, and most of this land is dedicated to raising livestock and growing livestock feed. Cows are bigger, eat more, and produce more waste than other animals, making them the most land-intensive livestock.

Beef production, for example, takes 28 times more land to produce than chicken or pork, and 160 times more land compared to staple crops like wheat or rice.

Further, to create grazing land for livestock, farmers usually cut down forests. In the Amazon 80% of deforestation is attributable to cattle ranching.

Read More: Brazil’s Rainforests Are Being Decimated — and One Country Wants to Do Something About It

Each year, 13 billion hectares of forest area are lost to make way for agricultural uses, especially to raise and feed livestock.


6/ Livestock Use Up Too Many Resources

farming-africa-food securityImage: Tanya Martineau/Prospect Arts/Food for the Hungry

Raising cows requires an enormous amount of food and water. Nearly 36% of the world’s ice-free land is used for livestock grazing and an additional 33% of croplands are dedicated to growing livestock feed.

Cows also have a huge water footprint. To produce one pound of beef, 1,799 gallons of water are needed, compared to 576 gallons for one pound of pork, and 108 gallons for a pound of corn.


7/ The Alternatives Are Now Really Good

 

 

It just doesn’t make much sense anymore to keep eating red meat — the costs are known and they’re real.

The good news is that there are countless delicious alternatives.

Read More: 9 Ways Veganism Is Helping the Planet

Next time you’re at a barbecue, you don’t have to worry about missing out on a juicy burger or a satisfying experience.

Lab-grown burgers sizzle on the grill, beet-bean-quinoa based burgers crisp up nicely, and turkey burgers have a similar meaty flavor, just to name a few options.  

Best of all — you'll know that each bite isn’t hurting the planet, your health, or animal welfare.

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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AUG. 7, 2017

Why You Should Absolutely Never Eat Red Meat Again

It no longer makes any sense.

Joe McCarthy

By Joe McCarthy

 

  •  
  •  
  •  
 

You’re sitting at a picnic table on a warm summer evening, the grass is soft, and fireflies are loping in the air. Someone hands you a hamburger just off the grill, plump in a sesame seed bun with tomatoes and pickles.

It smells and looks delicious. It’s nearly impossible to resist.

But here are seven reasons why you should resist not just that hamburger, but also all red meat in general — steak, sausages, roast beef — all of it.


1/ Red Meat Is Bad For Your Health

8 deadly diseases diabetes.jpgImage: Flickr: Victor

Red meat makes you more likely to die from eight diseases — cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease, and liver disease.


2/ Livestock Accelerate Climate Change

India Heat wave.jpgImage: Flickr: Chris Ford

There are an estimated 1.5 billion cows on the planet burping up over 40 billion gallons of methane a day.

Agriculture in general generates around 15%-20% of global emissions, but the bulk of it comes from livestock because methane warms the planet at rate that is 25-34 times greater than carbon.

Read More: Americans Are Eating 20% Less Beef in Huge Win For Earth

Then there are the carbon emissions involved in transporting, storing, and preparing red meat.

If everyone in the US started replacing red meat with beans, for example, then emissions would plummet and the commitments made under the Paris climate agreement would be within reach.  

A 2014 study found that giving up red meat is more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up the use of cars. Now that’s food for thought.


3/ Factory Farms Pollute Local Environments

 

Bacterial and other forms of runoff from factory farms are some of the biggest polluters of local waterways, which can end up ruining drinking water and making humans ill.

Factory farms also cause poor air quality, which can lead to respiratory problems.


4/ Factory Farms Treat Cows Terribly

Cows in a fieldImage: Flickr: Sunny Ripert

Cows are as emotionally complex as dogs and cats, yet factory farms subject them to brutal, miserable lives where they are constantly in pain, confined to tight spaces, forced to eat enormous amounts of hormone- and antibiotic-suffused food, abused, and separated from their loved ones.

Read More: Scientists Are Making Grass So Cows Burp Less Because Climate Change


5/ Raising Livestock Drives Deforestation

stand for trees deforestation hero.jpgImage: Unsplash/ Pixabay

Agriculture takes up 40% of the Earth’s land surface, and most of this land is dedicated to raising livestock and growing livestock feed. Cows are bigger, eat more, and produce more waste than other animals, making them the most land-intensive livestock.

Beef production, for example, takes 28 times more land to produce than chicken or pork, and 160 times more land compared to staple crops like wheat or rice.

Further, to create grazing land for livestock, farmers usually cut down forests. In the Amazon 80% of deforestation is attributable to cattle ranching.

Read More: Brazil’s Rainforests Are Being Decimated — and One Country Wants to Do Something About It

Each year, 13 billion hectares of forest area are lost to make way for agricultural uses, especially to raise and feed livestock.


6/ Livestock Use Up Too Many Resources

farming-africa-food securityImage: Tanya Martineau/Prospect Arts/Food for the Hungry

Raising cows requires an enormous amount of food and water. Nearly 36% of the world’s ice-free land is used for livestock grazing and an additional 33% of croplands are dedicated to growing livestock feed.

Cows also have a huge water footprint. To produce one pound of beef, 1,799 gallons of water are needed, compared to 576 gallons for one pound of pork, and 108 gallons for a pound of corn.


7/ The Alternatives Are Now Really Good

 

 

It just doesn’t make much sense anymore to keep eating red meat — the costs are known and they’re real.

The good news is that there are countless delicious alternatives.

Read More: 9 Ways Veganism Is Helping the Planet

Next time you’re at a barbecue, you don’t have to worry about missing out on a juicy burger or a satisfying experience.

Lab-grown burgers sizzle on the grill, beet-bean-quinoa based burgers crisp up nicely, and turkey burgers have a similar meaty flavor, just to name a few options.  

Best of all — you'll know that each bite isn’t hurting the planet, your health, or animal welfare.

Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

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My first time at the Jobcentre

17 August 2017
Danny%20Brice%20blog.jpegDanny Brice

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Recently, I had to go to the Jobcentre for the first time. Last year, I was reassessed for my benefits, and was told I had been put in to the work-related activity group of Employment Support Allowance. Because of that, they said I had to go to the Jobcentre. But, the letter that I was sent, didn’t really explain why. That made it nerve-wracking.

To be honest, it was all scary, very scary. I was worried because I already work and I can’t do any more hours than I do now because of my health and my learning disability. If I had to work more, my health would suffer. I didn’t know what they’re going to say when I got there – I was worried they might say ‘you need to do more hours’, or that they would stop my benefits.

To get to the Jobcentre we had to take the bus. The whole way there I felt nervous but I was glad that Sandy, my fiancée had come with me for support. We made sure we were early but had to wait for a bit. There were a lot of people there, which made me quite anxious.  

After a while a woman, a specialist for people with disabilities, came to get me. We sat down, and started talking and she told me, ‘don’t worry about anything, we’re not here to pressure you, we’re here to give you support’. She was a very nice person. She said, ‘we’re not telling you to work more or telling you what to do, we’re just here to help you. If you have any questions, or if you want to try different jobs, give us a call and we’ll help you’.

I was quite shocked. I’d been so nervous and she really helped me relax. Then we just started chatting. We talked about how I found my job at Mencap, where I work one afternoon a week, and how I’d been there about 15 years. I asked her questions so I could understand what was going on, and she was very helpful. After my appointment, she told me I’d need to come back in 6 or 7 weeks’ time for another appointment. She said, ‘don’t worry, everyone gets nervous in these sort of places, we’re here to help. If you have any problems at all, just let me know’.

She was kind, used accessible language and was really calm. I understood her. I was given the basics and had the process explained well. They know I work at Mencap and about my disability. I think it’s great that they had a disability specialist there – that was who I spoke to – she really made me feel comfortable. I was quite surprised because I just thought the staff wouldn’t care.

I don’t mind having to go back now because I know someone will be there that understands my disability. I had been really nervous at first. When I don’t know what’s going on, or I’m in a new environment, it can be really stressful. But she really helped me understand what was going on and I now feel a lot more comfortable about the whole thing, and I know I can ask more things next time.

I think there should be someone like the person that helped me in every Jobcentre, to help people with disabilities, just like me.

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HEALTH

How these clinics are helping pregnant women in Zimbabwe

September 14 2017 | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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Story and photos by Ray Mwareya.

Expensive maternity fees in Zimbabwe are a nightmare for pregnant women. In state or church clinics, where the majority of the poor give birth, charges can rise to $50 USD per month until delivery, according to Chido Gama of the Zimbabwe Health Human Rights Forum, a local lobby network that monitors the rights of disadvantaged expectant mothers.

But organizations like the United Nations Population Fund — with support from foreign assistance provided by countries around the world, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, and more — are working to change that by building and supporting new “maternity waiting homes” in Zimbabwe.

Pregnant women rest in a maternity waiting home in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland province.

Pregnant women rest in a maternity waiting home in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland province.

The need for affordable maternity waiting homes in Zimbabwe is huge – but supply and cost are beyond the means of many women. The country has seen a worrying amount of incidences of mothers suffering from complications like obstetric fistula or dying in childbirth, as well as babies dying from malnutrition. According to the UN Population Fund’s Country Representative, Cheikh Tidiane Cisse, Zimbabwe’s mortality rate is 614 per 100,000 live births.

The UN Population Fund wants to stop this: “We are implementing work to build cheap maternity waiting homes for Zimbabwe’s poorest women,” says Cheikh Tidiane. “These homes give women a safe place before labor to ensure access to skilled birth attendants.”

He praises the multilateral donor funding because it prevents critical delays that cause maternity deaths. In these maternity homes, pregnant women receive antenatal care, nutrition support, and fetus screening services.

A nurse examines a pregnant woman in a maternity home.

A nurse examines a pregnant woman in a maternity home.

“Our program seeks to increase the number of pregnant women visiting a proper health institution by 80% by 2020. Young women shouldn’t give birth in villages under the care of untrained midwives.”

The program has already installed three maternity waiting homes in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland province, home to the country’s capital city, Harare.

The program is having an impact, especially among young, new mothers.

“I feel safe in this maternity waiting home,” says Roselyn Chitema, 20. “It is my first time to fall pregnant. I could not afford the $80 that a state clinic charged to manage my delivery, so I came to this UN facility.”

She had to travel 300 kilometers from her village to check herself into the UN facility.

An employee at the maternity home discusses infant care with a pregnant woman.

An employee at the maternity home discusses infant care with a pregnant woman.

“Some rural clinics in Zimbabwe are notorious for turning away first-time pregnant women,” adds Chido Gama. “If you’re pregnant for the first time, rural clinics can wave you away and tell you to approach city hospitals because they say they don’t want to take chances with complicated first-time births. But in city clinics, you land into even more expensive hospitals.”

She adds: “Cost and lack of medical facilities is causing some rural young women to give birth at home under the risky supervision of untrained midwives — usually 60-year-old grandmothers.”

Roselyn feels well-cared for at the UN-supported maternity waiting home. “We feel safe giving birth in these safe-house maternity waiting homes,” she says. “This feels so secure. I need peace during childbirth.”

Her friend, Neria*, who is 26 and also pregnant, agrees. Neria says this is her second attempt at child birth. Her first pregnancy was when she was 17. But the baby was stillborn and Neria developed obstetric fistula, a debilitating condition that rendered her incontinent.

An expectant mother sits at the maternity waiting home in Mashonaland province.

An expectant mother sits at the maternity waiting home in Mashonaland province.

Neria is happy with the services at the maternity home. “I look forward to a healthy baby delivery,” she says. She is also receiving surgical treatment to reverse the effects of her obstetric fistula.

All mothers should be able to give birth in safe, clean environments — and organizations supported by generous development assistance from the U.S, U.K., and countries around the world can help make that happen.

* Name has been changed.
ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organizations highlighted.
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