A Nine Month Experience

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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. This is her final post about her experience as a Young Champion, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.

It seems like a short time ago when the Young Champions Program began. I do not feel as though I spent nine months doing my fellowship. While packing and getting ready to go back home, I am feeling a mix of excitement and frustration. I am very excited to go back home, but uncertain what is going to happen next.

I had similar feelings at the beginning of the program when I was coming to New Orleans. I was excited to begin the journey of a Young Champion, but fearful to be outside of my comfort zone.

When I was in Ethiopia I worked in different public health fields, including maternal health, which clued me in on how severe the maternal health problem is. As a health care provider I see firsthand mothers dying and suffering from childbirth. It has always been heart aching. Even though I had a deep desire to change the situation, I had no idea how to do it and bring about change as an individual. The Young Champions Program was a spot light which showed me a way to give back to my community.

My mentorship program with an amazing Ashoka Fellow, Kathryn Hall-Trujillo, gave me an opportunity to have different experiences. I have been able to realize various possible solutions to solve the maternal health problem and have been able to connect with different professionals and build partnerships. Specifically, working with Kathryn’s organization, Birthing Project USA, helped me understand different strategies of how women can help each other and solve their own problems in a very cost effective way. In the past nine months, the program also significantly strengthened my knowledge of the maternal health field.

There are uncertainties. But one thing I am sure of is that I am going to put all my efforts into improving maternal health by implementing my idea and working with others. My completion of my journey as a Young Champion is as if a chapter of a book has been read: The entire book still remains.