The Million Moms Challenge: Helping Moms Around the World, One Story at a Time

Huffington Post

Terri Whitecraft


The statistics are staggering: Every 90 seconds, someone in the world dies during pregnancy or childbirth. That's 1000 women and girls every day. Yet experts say more than 80 percent of those deaths are preventable with access to basic medical care -- and that doesn't include the more than 1 million babies a year who are stillborn because their mothers did not receive needed medical care.

 

How can you NOT want to help?

 

The "Sisterhood of Motherhood"


Last September, ABC News and the United Nations Foundation joined forces to launch theMillion Moms Challenge, a call to action to engage millions of Americans with millions of moms in developing countries. Our goal: to create a vibrant community around the shared dream of a healthy pregnancy, a safe birth, and a baby who will survive and thrive -- basic human rights that all too often are simply out of reach for women in the developing world.

 

The idea was to transcend distance, language and cultural differences by tapping into the common experience of moms -- the so-called "Sisterhood of Motherhood." As Tina Sharkey, CEO of Baby Center, told ABC News: "Whether your child is born in a hut or in a private hospital room, that moment of profound transformation is the same. No matter what language you speak, what personal belief system guides you -- at our core, all moms want the exact same thing -- a happy and healthy family."

-First we partnered with nearly two dozen of the most respected non-governmental organizations around the world- including Save the ChildrenPartners in HealthWorld VisionWhite Ribbon AllianceONE.org and mothers2mothers, to name a few.

 

We created a dedicated website (www.MillionMomsChallenge.com) featuring original video stories, news from our partners, and live, interactive posts from hundreds of mom bloggers (provided by BlogFrog).

 

And we hit the road, traveling to 16 countries and producing dozens of stories, ranging from investigative reports to feature stories to an hour-long primetime special with Diane Sawyer -- "Giving Life: A Risky Proposition."

 

"The Most Dangerous Thing A Woman Can Do"

 

For the primetime special on December 16th, 2011, we focused on countries where giving birth is literally the most dangerous thing a woman can do.

 

In Afghanistan, where more than half of marriages involve child brides, we met 15-year-old Miriam, married at 13 and about to give birth to her first child. Our producers travelled into Taliban-controlled areas to tell the stories of young mothers; one producer was threatened and stripped of his possessions at gunpoint during a trip near the Pakistan border.

In Sierra Leone, where one in six women dies in pregnancy or childbirth -- most often from postpartum bleeding -- we investigated why so few hospitals have the anti-hemorrhaging drug misoprostol, which can save lives for less than the cost of a postage stamp.

 

We also looked at success stories. Deborah Roberts reported on the so-called "Bangladesh miracle": how one of the poorest countries in the world achieved a 40 percent reduction in maternal deaths in the past decade, primarily by training skilled birth attendants and sending text and voice messages to pregnant women. And in Mexico, Dr. Richard Besser reported on the dramatic impact family planning has had on improving the lives of women and their children.

 

Baby Bumps and Twitterthons

 

But it wasn't just television. To engage a new audience, we worked with Baby Center to host the world's first virtual Baby Shower for Global Good -- an 8-hour "twitterthon" where more than a 1600 people won prizes and tweeted with top experts around the world. Total twitter impressions: over 94 million.

 

We launched the Imagine Me & You Facebook contest, where more than 450 women submitted photos of their "baby bumps" with a message for their little ones in an effort to win a rare photo session with renowned photographer Anne Geddes in her Sydney, Australia, studio . The contest sparked more than 40,000 "likes" and signups for the Challenge.

And we worked with the USC Institute for Global Health to develop an online video game"1000 Days," highlighting the crucial 1000-day window from pregnancy through age two when proper nutrition can determine a child's future.

 

An Outpouring of Support

 

In just 4 months, the Million Moms Challenge created an online community of more than 110,000 and raised more than $200, 000 (including generous contributions from Johnson & Johnson and Disney Baby). But it was our viewers who did the heavy lifting, donatingmore than $1.5 million throughout the entire year to organizations featured in our division-wide "Be the Change: Save a Life" series. It was clear that people wanted to make a difference -- and they did:

  • After Dr. Richard Besser met a woman in Bangladesh whose child died from diarrhea linked to dirty water, we asked viewers to help build a water tap for the island community. They donated enough to build 10 faucets and 20 toilets.
  •  

  • After Christiane Amanpour reported on malnutrition in Guatemala, where 80% of children are stunted, we asked viewers to donate40,000 to help children in one village develop normally. They gave enough to help the children of five villages.
  •  

  • Elizabeth Vargas met a group of students from Stanford University developing a low-cost incubator for premature babies in India. The resulting100,000 in donations helped propel the incubator into testing, and it is now being used to help babies in villages in rural India. 

Then there were smaller -- but equally important -- milestones that had less to do with raising money than raising awareness here at home:

 

  • When JuJu Chang reported how Hope Phones was collecting old cell phones in the U.S. and recycling them so new phones can be bought for health workers in the developing world, the nonprofit went from collecting 200 handsets per month to 500 handsets per business day.
  • After seeing David Muir's report on a measles outbreak in Somalia and a vaccine that costs just 24 cents, 15-year-old Dimitri Godur rallied his eighth-grade classmates in Florida to raise money for the Shot@Life campaign -- enough for more than 4,000 doses of the "24 cent solution."
  • When ABC News and Duke Global Health Institute asked college students to send in their big idea for improving maternal health, eight graduate students from John Hopkins won a $10,000 prize donated by the Lemelson Foundation. Their idea: a "Protein Pen" that can screen for preeclampsia as well as other potentially deadly conditions for less than a penny a test. They recently returned from field-testing the pen in Nepal.

The Next Chapter


For the entire team here at ABC News -- including all the correspondents and producers who reported from around the world -- the year-long global health series has been an extraordinary project. And it's just the beginning.

 

As the network becomes more focused on political coverage during the election year, the U.N. Foundation will carry the momentum of the Million Moms community into its next phase , continuing to shine a light on the individuals and organizations helping to save the lives of mothers and children around the globe. And now, with the Global Motherhood platform at the Huffington Post, the idea of a vibrant global community -- that "Sisterhood of Motherhood" -- is becoming even more of a reality.

Here's to million moms reaching out to moms and children to create healthier communities throughout the world!

 

The Million Moms Challenge was part of ABC News' year-long, division-wide series"Be the Change: Save a Life", sponsored in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Teri Whitcraft is a Senior Producer of ABC News Special Units, and Coordinating Producer of ABC News' year-long, division-wide global health series.

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Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

American children of the 19th century had a reputation. Returning British visitors reported on American kids who showed no respect, who swore and fought, who appeared — at age 10 — “calling for liquor at the bar, or puffing a cigar in the streets,” as one wrote. There were really no children in 19th-century America, travelers often claimed, only “small stuck-up caricatures of men and women.”

 

This was not a “carefree” nation, too rough-hewed to teach proper manners; adults deliberately chose to express new values by raising “go-ahead” boys and girls. The result mixed democracy and mob rule, assertiveness and cruelty, sudden freedom and strict boundaries. Visitors noted how American fathers would brag that their disobedient children were actually “young republicans,” liberated from old hierarchies. Children were still expected to be deferential to elders, but many were trained to embody their nation’s revolutionary virtues. “The theory of the equality” was present at the ballot box, according to one sympathetic Englishman, but “rampant in the nursery.”

 

Boys, in particular, spent their childhoods in a rowdy outdoor subculture. After age 5 or so they needed little attention from their mothers, but were not big enough to help their fathers work. So until age 10 or 12 they spent much of their time playing or fighting.

 

The writer William Dean Howells recalled his ordinary, violent Ohio childhood, immersed in his loose gang of pals, rarely catching a “glimpse of life much higher than the middle of a man.” Howells’s peers were “always stoning something,” whether friends, rivals or stray dogs. They left a trail of maimed animals behind them, often hurt in sloppy attempts to domesticate wild pets.

 

And though we envision innocents playing with a hoop and a stick, many preferred “mumbletypeg” — a game where two players competed to see who could throw a knife closer to his own foot. Stabbing yourself meant a win by default.

 

Left to their own devices, boys learned an assertive style that shaped their futures. The story of every 19th-century empire builder — Carnegie, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt — seems to begin with a striving 10-year-old. “Boy culture” offered training for the challenges of American manhood and a reprieve before a life of labor.

 

But these unsupervised boys also formed gangs that harassed the mentally ill, the handicapped and racial and ethnic minorities. Boys played an outsize role in the anti-Irish pogroms in 1840s Philadelphia, the brutal New York City draft riots targeting African-Americans during the Civil War and attacks on Chinese laborers in Gilded Age California. These children did not invent the bigotry rampant in white America, but their unrestrained upbringing let them enact what their parents mostly muttered.

 

Their sisters followed a different path. Girls were usually assigned more of their mothers’ tasks. An 8-year-old girl would be expected to help with the wash or other physically demanding tasks, while her brother might simply be too small, too slow or too annoying to drive the plow with his father. But despite their drudgery, 19th-century American girls still found time for tree climbing, bonfire building and waterfall-jumping antics. There were few pretty pink princesses in 19th-century America: Girls were too rowdy and too republican for that.

 

So how did we get from “democratic sucklings” to helicopter parents? Though many point to a rise of parental worrying after the 1970s, this was an incremental change in a movement that began a hundred years earlier.

 

In the last quarter of the 19th century, middle-class parents launched a self-conscious project to protect children. Urban professionals began to focus on children’s vulnerabilities. Well-to-do worriers no longer needed to raise tough dairymaids or cunning newsboys; the changing economy demanded careful managers of businesses or households, and restrained company men, capable of navigating big institutions.

 

Demographics played a role as well: By 1900 American women had half as many children as they did in 1800, and those children were twice as likely to live through infancy as they were in 1850. Ironically, as their children faced fewer dangers, parents worried more about their protection.

 

Instead of seeing boys and girls as capable, clever, knockabout scamps, many reconceived children as vulnerable, weak and naïve. Reformers introduced child labor laws, divided kids by age in school and monitored their play. Jane Addams particularly worked to fit children into the new industrial order, condemning “this stupid experiment of organizing work and failing to organize play.”

 

There was good reason to tame the boys and girls of the 19th century, if only for stray cats’ sake. But somewhere between Jane Addams and Nancy Grace, Americans lost track of their larger goal. Earlier parents raised their kids to express values their society trumpeted.

 

“Precocious” 19th-century troublemakers asserted their parents’ democratic beliefs and fit into an economy that had little use for 8-year-olds but idealized striving, self-made men. Reformers designed their Boy Scouts to meet the demands of the 20th century, teaching organization and rebalancing the relationship between play and work. Both movements agreed, in their didactic ways, that playtime shaped future citizens.

 

Does the overprotected child articulate values we are proud of in 2014? Nothing is easier than judging other peoples’ parenting, but there is a side of contemporary American culture — fearful, litigious, controlling — that we do not brag about but that we reveal in our child rearing, and that runs contrary to our self-image as an open, optimistic nation. Maybe this is why sheltering parents come in for so much easy criticism: A visit to the playground exposes traits we would rather not recognize.

 

There is, however, a saving grace that parents will notice this summer. Kids are harder to guide and shape, as William Dean Howells put it, “than grown people are apt to think.” It is as true today as it was two centuries ago: “Everywhere and always the world of boys is outside of the laws that govern grown-up communities.” Somehow, they’ll manage to go their own way.

 

________________________________

 

A National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Massachusetts Historical Society who is writing a book on the role of young people in 19th-century American democracy.

0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

But President Xi Jinping has targeted Mr. Zhou in an extraordinary corruption inquiry, a first for a Chinese party leader of Mr. Zhou’s rank, and put his family’s extensive business interests in the cross hairs.

 

Even by the cutthroat standards of Chinese politics, it is a bold maneuver. The finances of the families of senior leaders are among the deepest and most politically delicate secrets in China. The party has for years followed a tacit rule that relatives of the elite could prosper from the country’s economic opening, which rewarded loyalty and helped avert rifts in the leadership.

Zhou Family Ties

1 Comments

Fri

13

Nov

2015

Are Languages Products of their Environment?


shutterstock_222422665_151112


DISCOVER MAGAZINE published this very interesting article: 


  Languages Are Products of Their Environments


The characteristics that make each language unique may actually be adaptations to the acoustics of different environments.

0 Comments

Tue

03

Jun

2014

The Case for Reparations

 

The Case for Reparations

 

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

 

By Ta-Nehisi Coates

May 21, 2014

 


Chapters

  1. I. “So That’s Just One Of My Losses”
  2. II.  “A Difference of Kind, Not Degree”
  3. III. “We Inherit Our Ample Patrimony”
  4. IV. “The Ills That Slavery Frees Us From”
  5. V. The Quiet Plunder
  6. VI. Making The Second Ghetto
  7. VII. “A Lot Of People Fell By The Way”
  8. VIII. “Negro Poverty is not White Poverty”
  9. IX. Toward A New Country
  10. X. “There Will Be No ‘Reparations’ From Germany”
0 Comments

Mon

02

Jun

2014

A Look At 19th Century Children In The USA

PHILADELPHIA — DINNER with your children in 19th-century America often required some self-control. Berry stains in your daughter’s hair? Good for her. Raccoon bites running up your boy’s arms? Bet he had an interesting day.

 

As this year’s summer vacation begins, many parents contemplate how to rein in their kids. But there was a time when Americans pushed in the opposite direction, preserved in Mark Twain’s cat-swinging scamps. Parents back then encouraged kids to get some wildness out of their system, to express the republic’s revolutionary values.

The New York Times

Sunday Review

By JON GRINSPAN MAY 31, 2014

 

A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks
A late 19th century family taking a stroll down a set of railroad tracks

Read More 0 Comments

Mon

21

Apr

2014

Investigating Family's Wealth, China's Leader Signals a Change

From The New York Times 

By CHRISTOPHER DREW and JAD MOUAWAD

APRIL 19, 2014

 

HONG KONG — His son landed contracts to sell equipment to state oil fields and thousands of filling stations across China. His son’s mother-in-law held stakes in pipelines and natural gas pumps from Sichuan Province in the west to the southern isle of Hainan. And his sister-in-law, working from one of Beijing’s most prestigious office buildings, invested in mines, property and energy projects.

 

In thousands of pages of corporate documents describing these ventures, the name that never appears is his own: Zhou Yongkang, the formidable Chinese Communist Party leader who served as China’s top security official and the de facto boss of its oil industry.





A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China.  Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests.  Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times
A visitor at the Zhou family's ancestral graves in Xiqliantou, eastern China. Intrigue surrounds the family after a spate of arrests. Sim Chi Yim for the New York Times

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