Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Small Acts Make a Big Difference

I have been thinking a lot about need and the overwhelming feeling one can get when faced with the tremendous numbers of people in the world who suffer.  I have had several very interesting conversations with people who have posed questions like:  why would you help people so far away when there is need right here?  Or, does it really make sense to do something small when ultimately it might not make a big difference?  How do we make systemic change to really transform communities in the developing world?

I am by no means an expert on any of these subjects, but I keep coming back to the ideas that people like Paul Farmer, founder of Partners in Health (www.PIH.org) and Deogratias Niyizonkiza, founder of Village Health Works (www.villagehealthworks.org)
have talked about and acted on and the ways that they have made change in the lives of the many people in rural, poor communities.  I keep coming back to the idea of institutionalizing change as a way of understanding how addressing one need, even a small need, in places of suffering, can have a ripple affect in creating change.  Giving, helping, and positive growth are contagious, and in the cases of Paul and Deo, their clinics have institutionalized change in many ways, not only leading to increased health, to saving lives, but also to efforts toward education, community development, business development and agriculture.

For example, what started as a small clinic in rural Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world with extremely high rates of malnutrition, maternal and infant mortality, and recovering from a civil war that killed thousands, has developed into a place of healing in many ways:  with early childhood programs, mental health programs, agricultural and small business initiatives.  This small clinic now affects the lives of the over 200,000 people living in the area.  See www.villagehealthworks.org to see more about this.

The lesson that small acts can make a big difference, and that small changes can have big implications in the long run, is one that I believe in and is at the heart of our pajama movement.  Yes, in some cases pajamas for sick newborns can have life saving benefits to the treatable issue of temperature regulation that takes the lives of thousands of babies each year.  But beyond that pajamas are one step in creating awareness of the challenges faced by mothers and children in developing countries, they offer comfort to those who receive them who know that they are not alone:  that someone else in a distant place cares about them, and they connect, metaphorically, emotionally, and physically, mothers to mothers and children to children around the world.

When you put your baby to bed tonight or you remember that feeling when your babies were small, I hope your thoughts turn to imaging the lives of those children near and far who don't have pajamas.  Are we changing the world with pajamas?  Maybe not.  But you never know what the ripple affects of these simple acts can bring.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Article on poverty and malnutrition in Burundi - a must read

My dear friend Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson (AKA Seattle Mama Doc - check out the amazing work she is doing at seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org) sent me this very informative article about Burundi written by people at the Gates Foundation.  Read it - you will get a better sense of the dire needs in Burundi and the kinds of challenges people there face.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Our newest giving partner World Health Equity

I am thrilled to announce our newest giving partner World Health Equity!

World Health Equity (WHE) was started by a young and clearly very talented woman Jennifer Kamara, to work with local communities in northern Sierre Leone to start a pilot health clinic.  In this region, where about 200,000 people live, there is only one doctor who works in the closest town, two miles away from the site where the clinic will be built.

What impresses me about this organization is its grassroots, change from the bottom up, approach.  Rather than imposing change from the outside, WHE, under the leadership of Jennifer who is a native of Sierre Leone, is working with local community members to make change through building health systems.  We have so many examples of the effectiveness of involving local communities in making change and the importance of embowering local populations to be change agents.

WHE is working to solve some of the issues we are especially concerned about relating to women and children.  In this area with high rates of malnutrition, pregnancy, childbirth, and infancy are particularly challenging.  Sadly half of the children in the region do not live to see their 5th birthdays, and instances of maternal mortality are high.

We hope that our pajamas make a difference in the lives of the people in this area of great need, and we look forward to seeing your donations on these beautiful children.

Please visit www.worldhealthequity to learn more about the amazing work WHE is doing!!
You can also see their work on Facebook and Twitter!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pajamas to Rural Nepal

This stunning young mother and her beautiful newborn received a pair of our donated pajamas.  I was so happy to receive this photo.  This mother was photographed at Bayalpata Hospital in the far western Achham District of Nepal and safely delivered her baby thanks to the team at Nyaya Health (also known as Possible Health www.possiblehealth.org) and the Nepal Ministry of Health and Population.  Possible Health is working with the government of Nepal to create effective health care systems in Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world.  

Thank you Possible Health for bringing our jammies to rural Nepal!! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Where Children Around the World Sleep

This piece captured my attention, and I just ordered the book.  This author takes photographs of children and their bedrooms around the world.  The bedroom is such an intimate space and reveals so much about one's way of life.  In these photos we see children in some of the places where we give pajamas:  Nepal, Bolivia, and Africa.  This gives some idea about how something simple and small (like warm pajamas to sleep in), can make a difference in the life of another child.

Please take a look; it will give you a greater understanding of some of the children we are serving and the kinds of extreme poverty in the world: