Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome to the World Emma!

Yesterday my family was blessed to have another little girl added to its ranks. Emma was born at 8:16 a.m. EST and weighed in at 7 lbs. 6 ozs. As I looked at the adorable pictures of her (isn't she SO cute!?) that my brother Abraham and his wife Heather posted on Facebook I thought of how blessed she is to live in a country were the neonatal mortality rate is less than 5%. I also thought, however, of many countries were neonatal and child mortality (the death of babies and children) effects families on a daily basis.

During my time at the UN this summer, I have had the opportunity to learn about the fight for life that happens every day in dozens of countries around the world. According to a Save the Children report of the 2010 Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, 33 countries have seen “slow or no progress, and a further five countries – Chad, Congo, Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – … have actually seen increases in their child mortality rates since 1990.”
At the Neonatal Mortality Panel

In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration was ratified and the Millennium Development Goals (MGD) were created. The MGD’s aim to “improve the wellbeing of millions of people by 2015” and they target eight key areas: 
  1. Poverty and Hunger
  2. Universal Education
  3. Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women
  4. Child Health
  5. Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership
The goal of MDG 4 is to reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015 and although the global rate has fallen, progress has been far too slow. According to Save the Children, “a recent study found that the rate of reduction has accelerated since 2000, compared with the period from 1990 to 2000. However, the rate of reduction – 28% since the baseline year of 1990 – is well below the 67% reduction required to meet the goal” and this means that every year this goal is not reached millions of children will die needlessly.
Because of baby Emma’s birth yesterday and the upcoming birth of another niece, Sophia, I thought I would focus this post on the dangerous reality that most women in the world face when they have a child.

The reality for many women in the world is opposite of the experience Heather and Emma had this week. They were surrounded by family and friends, and well trained health care workers who skillfully assisted in the birth process, but this year over 2 Million women will give birth to their child completely alone. Not only will they not have access to a skilled health care worker, but they will not even have a friend or family member present. This solo birthing process will result in the death of more than 358,000 mothers, and over 800,000 babies! As astonishing as these numbers are, they are only a fraction of the deaths that will occur within the first month after birth because millions more will die due to neonatal diseases and complications (i.e., pneumonia, birth asphyxia, sepsis, tetanus, diarrhea, etc.). Emma, on the other hand, has an 89% chance of reaching the age of 65 simply because she lives in the United States.

One thing I have learned during my experience at the UN is that although it is important for governments to agree on items like the MDG’s, it is imperative for everyday people to get involved in causes that they believe in. Some of the greatest work happening in the world today is a result of small and large humanitarian organizations that are assisted and funded by people like YOU. I hope this post has helped enlighten you about one more cause you can become involved in and has sparked your interest enough for you to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. The involvement of every person, at every level, is required to reach any of the Millennium Development Goals, so please take this opportunity to find out more about how you can help in your community, your nation, and the world.

Check out these links for more information:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Sponsors - UPDATED 6.21.2011

This is a re-post, but I have had several new additions to this list so I wanted it to appear at the top of the blog again.  Thanks, again, to everyone who has made this possible!

My UN experience this summer will cost nearly $11,000 USD, and there is no way I would be able to do it without the generous support of these sponsors:

UVU Woodbury School of Business
Utah Women & Education Project
DigiCert, Inc. in Lindon, Utah
UVU College of Humanities and Social Sciences
UVU Internship Scholarship
Jon Ostenson and Family
Nancy Tobler 
Peter Robinson
Vernon and Shannon Fuller and Family
Greg and Susan Madsen and Family
Gladys Lara (she made a lot of the clothes I have with me-Thank you Sister Lara!)

And, of course, all of my family and friends who have been so supportive and encouraging throughout this process. Thank you all!

If I have forgotten someone, please let me know, or if you would still like to make a contributes, small or large, it can be done through the Utah Valley University Foundation scholarship that has been set up on my behalf.




On Sunday 29 May 2011 I had the opportunity of meeting an amazing women, Fatimatou Mansour,  from Morocco. She is the Human Rights Special Secretary for the Permanent Mission of Morocco and is a Muslim woman with three daughters. She also suffered horrible injustices in her life as a result of being a refugee. She was one of the many children who were being separated from their families, and her separation lasted for twelve years while she was forced to live, work, and study in Cuba. She was only ten when she was taken away from them.

During our meal, we peppered her with questions about the turmoil that caused her and her family to be subjected to so many human rights violations and talked about her work at the United Nations and the panels she would be hosting in the coming weeks. We also asked her about her culture and religion and admired her beautiful traditional Moroccan dress. We talked about her relationship between her and her husband which included an explanation of some of their separation of duties. This portion of the discussion I found very interesting because it contradicted some of my stereotypes by showing me that they are a loving a supportive couple hat does not exist on submission versus power. She explained that in her culture it is looked at as the husband’s responsibility to keep the wife happy. If the wife does not show her happiness it is assumed by those in the community that the husband is mistreating her. During the meal, her husband said several times that he was “her slave,” and although this was said in a joking manner, it showed how much he supports her in the work that she is doing.
Traditional Couscous
with vegetables and lamb

Dressing me
By the end of our four hour visit, she gifted each of us a traditional Moroccan dress, and a box of green tea.She taught us how to put on the dress (it is really just a long piece of fabric that has to be strategically tied and wrapped around your body), and we asked if it would be okay for us to wear them at her upcoming panel. She replied by saying that it would be a great way of showing solidarity with Muslim women, Moroccans, and the human rights violations they have endured. I thought about this remark of solidarity on the way home as I wore the dress and was surprised when I passed a Muslim woman who smiled at me as if we shared a common bond. I turned to Jess and commented about the exchange between myself and the Muslim woman and how I found it interesting that a piece of clothing could create such a connection.

At the Human Rights Panel in the United Nations on June 8, 2011
We did in fact wear our dresses to Fatimatou’s panel at the United Nations and we were greeted by her, the other women, and many of the men with surprise and thanks. We were even honored by being given a front row seat between Fatimatou and one of her colleagues during the panel, and Jess was interviewed for Moroccan television to help show that Western women also support the struggle for human rights and the freedom that the refugees are desperately seeking.

Until this experience I never really understood the concept of solidarity or why it might be important to share solidarity with a group of people, but now I realize how one simple act can change a person from an onlooker to an advocate. Previously I thought that wearing traditional clothing from another culture would be considered offensive, but after this experience I realized that it is actually a sign of respect and solidarity with their beliefs and way of life. I came to the UN wanting to learn how to be an advocate for people who do not have the opportunity to share their voice, and this one lesson in solidarity taught me a great deal more than I thought I needed.

Below are more pictures from our wonderful visit with Fatimatou and her family.

Jess watching the traditional tea preparation

Both of us with Fatimatou
With Fatimatou

What a cute family!
Her husband in his traditional clothing

One of their cute daughters

With their friend-he really liked it

So, how do I look?