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A New Beginning...

This blog post was contributed by Zubaida Bai, one of the sixteen 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.

My participation in the Young Champions of Maternal Health program has been a new beginning for me as well as my 15-day old son. Even though I had to miss the global maternal health conference as I was in my last trimester, I am enjoying a fresh start in Boston with Ashoka Fellow Rebecca Onie’s organization, Project Health. With my husband and older child in Colorado, all I was hoping from the team at Project Health was that they understand my situation of being a single-mother for the first three months. However the support I have received from these lovely human beings has made work all the more fascinating an experience.

The work so far has been nothing short of overwhelming, trying to absorb all the learning that the organization has accumulated over years and from volunteers who work on the ground every day to serve thousands of families in need. Thanks to Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force, I have been exposed to this world called Project Health where hundreds of volunteers are mobilized to serve thousands of women in pain and suffering, due to lack of basic resources during their pregnancy. Aha… I thought are no poor people or women facing these challenges in the US… but I was wrong!

Project Health is working to help women obtain access to basic living needs directly related to health but often ignored, not limited to food, clothing, and shelter. After the first month here, I am truly inspired and can see the true importance of this service, not just nationwide but around the globe. Over the course of my placement I will be working with Rebecca Onie to understand and begin thinking through her plans for expanding this model. After meeting so many interesting volunteers and employees of Project Health, bouncing ideas back and forth with many of them, my narrow perspective regarding a service-based model has changed. Service does not always mean doing things for people but in this context is more about helping people do what they need to do.

There is a lot more work to be done over my next 8 months with Project Heath, but I already feel I am gaining valuable learnings about field of maternal and child health.  At the end of the Fellowship, with support from Project Health and Ashoka, I am sure I will have built in me the capability to review and assess the system in India and bring a new perspective to improve it. It’s just the beginning, but I’m already learning and doing so much.