By: Joanna Hoffman, Women Deliver
Throughout the world, rural women are particularly disadvantaged in their access to quality maternal health care. Distance to health facilities, lack of trained health workers, and supply shortages are some of the most prominent barriers preventing women from reaching the care they need to be healthy. In the Copper Canyon, it can take residents four hours by foot to reach the nearest clinic and another six or eight by truck to reach a hospital. The situation is not much better in much of Nepal, where seven out of ten babies are born at home without a skilled health worker, and a young mother dies every four hours.
One Heart World-Wide began operations in Nepal and Mexico operating under the motto, “To work in places where no one else dares to, but where the need is the greatest.” On a local level, volunteers are trained as “Foot Soldiers of Change” who hike through remote areas, bringing safe motherhood tips, clean birth kits and prenatal vitamins to pregnant women in their communities. They are also trained to recognize signs of dangerous complications, and how to safely evacuate women in life-threatening situations. For many, these Foot Soldiers serve as the much-needed link between rural pregnant women and essential health care.
As of March 2012, One Heart World-Wide had trained 70 volunteers in Mexico and another 500 in Western Nepal. For the 2,000 pregnant women they have helped, these volunteers truly are “Foot Soldiers of Change”, bringing hope to those in the most remote corners of the planet. As distant as they may feel from the rest of the world, these women now have someone looking out for them, crossing canyons and mountains through the day and night to ensure a world with fewer tragic statistics and more healthy mothers.
To support One Heart World-wide, check out their projects on Catapult here.
Flickr photo via Gates Foundation.