Gathering Together Again

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By: María Laura Casalegno, Young Champion of Maternal Health

This blog post was contributed by María Laura Casalegno, 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.

April has been an exciting month. I have been working on all my projects at PACEMD, I have made important decisions and I have met friends…

At PACEMD I continued working in the Obstetrical First Responder, I continued going to the communities, and I continued writing some grants proposals. I have made decisions because I finally resolved to stay in Mexico for another year. I will continue working with PACEMD and Dr. Haywood Hall’s team. We will develop and implement different projects in the Maternal Health field. We will continue working hard to achieve the goals of decreasing maternal mortality rates. I think this is a great opportunity to keep learning from Dr. Haywood Hall and all his team.

And finally, I have met friends because I had the opportunity to attend the Young Champions Future Forum, held from May 1st to May 5th in Accra, Ghana. Eight months since our first meeting,the Young Champions gathered together again at the Future Forum where we were able to exchange our experiences from abroad. This meeting was successfully organized by all theAshoka staff. Claire Bangser and Tiffany Morris were there. We shared our time with them and we learned a lot from both of them. We also had the opportunity to exchange ideas and to learn a lot from Maternal Health Experts, such as Dr. Ann Blanc and Tim Thomas from the Maternal Health Task Force.

We were amazed with the Ashoka Fellow’s presentations…

Josephine Nzerem was guiding us throughout the Forum. She leads an organization where they are protecting the social and economic rights of women in Nigeria. She taught us to be strong and keep fighting for what we want.

Kathryn Hall-Trujillo was inspired us during the whole Future Forum with her strength and her vision of motherhood and childhood. She is the head of an American organization where they teach mothers to support each other. She taught us how to be persistent and never stop seeking our dreams.

Hamadou Tidiane Sy is a Senegalese journalist that leads a Pan-African corps that is aimed to redefine African journalism. He guided us on how to create our pitch and how to clearly transmit our message. He gave us some tips about pitching and he shared all of his expertise with us.

Alice Emasu coordinates an organization where the main goal is to promote awareness of women’s human rights, the reproductive health and rights of women, and the rights of children in Uganda. She was inspiring and taught us how to never stop fighting for our ideas.

Bright Simons is a Ghanaian Fellow who is trying to improve the safety of pharmaceutical consumers through technology. His power to transmit his message and his conviction and his commitment were admirable.

Nana Twum-Daso is the director of the Project Fives Alive! She shared with us the development, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the project. It was really helpful to see how this project is being managed.

We also enjoyed the presentations of Martha Murdock, Kate Teela, and Catherine Casey.

Martha Murdock is the Vice President for Regional Programs of Family Care International and Kate Teela was representing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Catherine Casey is from the Acumen Fund. They advised us in how to create our organization, how to sustain our projects and also how to manage the resources to make it work.

We visited the GYN/OB Service at the Hospital in Accra. All the staff were very inspiring and we could learn a lot about the Ghanaian Health System and its Maternal and Neonatal Program.

Finally, as an amazing closure to the event, we had the honor to hear from Dr. Fred Sai. He spoke about his long career in the Maternal Health field. He shared with us all his expertise and we learned a lot from him and all his wisdom.

This was an incredible month, full of new adventures and filled with a lot of memories… I am very thankful to all the people who were there and I will always remember the amazing days that I spent in Accra with all these beloved and wise people!