Building Experience from Different Interactions

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By: Martha Fikre Adenew, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by Martha Fikre Adenew, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

Working with the Birthing Project and participating in different events has helped me to see many different perspectives. It has been a busy month with different events and activities in Birthing Project and in New Orleans.

One of the big events we were busy organizing was a baby shower. It is not a regular baby shower; it is done after the baby is born. The objective of this baby shower is to enable mothers to set goals for their future and dream for their babies’ future. This event helps sister friends and little sisters to strengthen their relationship after the baby is born. It creates a platform for the sister friend to identify how she can help her little sister achieve her goals for herself (this may include family planning, going back to school, finding a job, etc.). In addition the little sisters dream what they want their babies to be in the future and what they have to do to see them succeed. This has given me an idea for my own project to prepare a similar event after the baby is born which will help rural mothers to think about immunization, nutrition, good care, education for their babies and protecting their babies from different harmful traditional practices.

In addition to the routine activities in the New Orleans Birthing Project I have also been co-facilitating the Tulane Global Maternal and Child Health Learning Community program. This is an informal learning program where students and staff from Tulane University, staff from Birthing Project and people from the community come together and discuss women’s issues. Since it is an informal discussion everybody has a chance to express themselves and produce brilliant ideas. Involving people who have had social impact, like my mentor and Ashoka Fellow Ms. Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, in universities definitely helps students learn. Being part of the program has also allowed me to share my experiences with people who have different areas of expertise. Since I am responsible for the program it gives me an opportunity to learn how to organize events and interact with people. In addition it gives me ideas of how to pass knowledge and experience to future leaders.

To facilitate networking and collaboration we also hosted a party for Ashoka U students from Tulane University. The students came from different educational backgrounds but almost all were interested in one thing: social entrepreneurship. This shows me how Ashoka is working with all different part of society, like university students, social entrepreneurs and Young Champions. We were able to discuss different issues and identify areas of collaboration. This is just the beginning of networking and collaboration that will continue into the future.

These different interactions with different people have really expanded my knowledge day by day. Though I sometimes get ambitious and need to be part of everything, the experience has given me a way to think more broadly. I am sure the next six months will bring more clarity and more refining of my project idea while I continue to build my knowledge and experience.