In Their Own Words: The Young Champions of Maternal Health

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Written by: Ashoka

We are excited to announce the latest edition of Stories of Change, an electronic book series that tells the stories of changemakers from across Ashoka’s community. This fourth volume, called In Their Own Words: The Young Champions of Maternal Health, features voices from the next generation of ideas for maternal health describing their greatest successes and challenges during nine-month placements with Ashoka Fellow mentors.

Here are just a few examples of their inspirational stories:

“I was in front of the group [of pregnant adolescents] holding a closed shoe-box, explaining to the participants: ‘Think of the most important person in your lives. A person who deserves all your care, whom you truly love and know most intimately…’ As they sat thinking, I told them they would then meet this person face-to-face, inside this very shoebox! I had each girl come up to the front of the room and open the box, seeing a mirror inside. Shock registered on their faces as they realized that it was they themselves who deserve all care and love imaginable! They had worthy motivations and dreams that must be respected!”—Julianne P. Weis

“On the last day in Ghana, a few Young Champions and I visited Elmina Castle at the Cape coast of Ghana — a place where slaves used to be captured and kept before being shipped off to different parts of the world like America. Who knew how many emotions this place would expose for a young African woman who herself has lived during at apartheid?/ Being at Elmina was emotional yet I realized that during our time in the 21st century there are still forms of inequalities that happen in our midst. The death of women and children is a human rights issue.”—Hellen Kotlolo

“In a former life as a finance guy, I let my inner nerd trade in the bucket of Legos for an Excel model with complicated formulas and every costing function you can imagine holding it together. This month has required me to dust off lots of my old private sector skills. Funny thing is that applying these skills to extend healthcare to people in need is much more exciting than making anonymous shareholders richer.”—Seth Cochran

Read more to understand how this cross-cultural team of budding social entrepreneurs is transforming the field of maternal health:

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Stories of Change is Ashoka’s electronic book series. Through these publications, we share the stories of changemaking innovators in the Ashoka community: Fellows, Youth Venturers, staff, and partners. People who are producing system change solutions for social problems, inspiring innovation and creating an Everyone a Changemaker™ world. You can read our other volumes here.