This blog post was contributed by Zubaida Bai, 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.
The Young Champions of Maternal Health Program and its stakeholders have been a family for over eight months now. In this penultimate month as part of the outgoing class of Ashoka’s Young Champions of Maternal Health (cohort 1), I wish to acknowledge everyone who as a consequence of this fellowship has become an integral part of my now vastly extended family that spans 6 continents– all of whom I will cherish for the rest of my life.
At my placement organization, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ashoka Fellow Rebecca Onie and everyone at HEALTH LEADS in Boston (Allison Quinn, Beth Felker, Eliza Wilson, Mark Marino, Monica Swahney, Nicole St. Omer Roy and Sutton Kiplinger), all of whom made sure that this association is beneficial in guiding me so my venture AYZH can scale to new heights.
I will never forget the other Ashoka Young Champions of Maternal Health (many of whom are on their way to building successful careers in maternal health) whose work in the field has constantly given me strength and faith to take AYZH forward. The Young Champions Future Forum that was held in Ghana in May was another step all Young Champions like myself partook in which helped us further our efforts in the field. All credit goes to Claire Bangser, Tiffany Morris and Megan Coolidge from Ashoka and Dr. Ann Blanc and Tim Thomas from Maternal Health Task Force for setting up the Forum in such a seamless manner. It was a work of art because they knew just what the Young Champions needed to further their missions and thus had the right people for the sessions which were clearly targeted at providing guidance and helping us think critically. A big hug and thanks to all of them for setting the Future Forum’s focus in a way that was mindful of our needs.
The Future Forum was an event which did not have a one size fits all approach. There was everything for each Young Champion and I am confident everyone at the venue will echo this thought. It gave each one of us a feeling of existence and confidence to go out and further our work in the field of maternal health. Among others who inspired me at the gathering were Josephine Nzerem, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, Hamadou Tidiane Sy, Kate Teela, Bright Simons, Alice Emasu, Nana Twum-Danso, Martha Murdock, and Dr.Fred Sai.
The goal of the Young Champions Future Forum was to boost the skills and passion of the Young Champions and to provide a platform for budding entrepreneurs in the field of maternal health. Each success of the Young Campion is a testimonial to that goal being achieved in the most efficient manner. In short, all I have to say is that I returned home as a better professional. I am humbled, inspired, encouraged and more confident thanks to the Future Forum. I will enjoy the bliss of these relationships all my life. Thank you Ashoka and thank you Maternal Health Task Force.