United Nations Foundation

The UN Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner's historic $1 billion gift to support United Nations' causes. The UN Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations. Through new and innovative public-private partnerships, advocacy and grantmaking, the UN Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Apr 16, 2013

Baby Harriett

LaShaun Martin and Baby Harriett
LaShaun Martin and Baby Harriett

The flutters of movement, then the obvious kicks from the life beating inside of me. I was afraid. Afraid of the unknown. The uncertainty of whether I was ready to become a mother, unsure of how to care for myself and the life that waited to arrive. I sang to her in my tummy each day. Willing her to respond to the sound of my voice. And when she did, I breathed a sigh of relief.

When I saw her face for the first time, I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility. It was now mine and my husband’s job to provide the best care for our firstborn daughter. We checked for ten fingers and toes and celebrated the life of our child…until Day 3.

After we were released from the hospital, we took our little one to her first pediatrician appointment on the third day after her birth. Our hearts sank as we were informed that she must be readmitted into the hospital for jaundice. We were crushed as we walked into the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) to hand over our precious baby.

Only four short months ago, I was reminded of that feeling when I met Baby Harriett during a life-changing trip to Uganda, Africa with the United Nations Foundation’s – Shot@Life Campaign.  I held her tiny and frail five month old body in my arms during a visit to her home shared by her Grandmother Rosemary, father Brian and his sisters. As she rested in my arms, it reminded me of holding my little girl for the first time. You see, although Baby Harriett was five months old, she was as light as a feather, the weight of a newborn.

Baby Harriett’s mother, Sheila, left the care of her daughter with Rosemary and Brian to further her education to become a nurse. Although commendable, Sheila’s choice left little Harriett severely malnourished due to the lack of breast milk.  Sadly, this beautiful child was also left without the proper newborn vaccinations she should have received at birth.

I joined friends of mine from Shot@Life as as we watched Baby Harriett receive her vaccinations, health screening and birth registry provided by UNICEF Uganda during Healthy Family Days after their church services. As I observed the healthcare workers measure Harriett’s tiny little arms, I gasped as her nutrition was confirmed to be in the danger zone.  I cried as they placed the needle in what very little meat her skin had to reduce the impact of the painful vaccinations.

I felt the pain of Baby Harriett’s tears as they fell from her eyes which had just moments before shown with brightness. I wanted to hold her again to console her and somehow help her understand that all of the pain was to save her life! She was being given the gift of a future that so many other children don’t receive.

Just as I had the privilege of taking my firstborn daughter to the NICU to receive care 10 years ago, I still have the choice of both of my girls receiving vaccinations. NEVER has this choice been more important than after I shared that day with precious Baby Harriett.

Each time my girls hit a milestone, I think of Baby Harriett and what her life will be like as a result of the gift she was given that day. 

Links:

Apr 16, 2013

Thank you for supporting Somali refugees in Ethiopia

Your support of a Somali refugee girl now living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia makes a direct impact in her ability to get an education.

Girl Up works alongside the UN to help fund programs that provide opportunities for refugee girls who have fled from Somalia as a result of conflict and violence. These programs reach more than 16,000 girls and focus on:
 

Education

  • Keeping girls in school to learn how to read and write, and in turn, decreasing their chances of being married as a child bride.

Health

  • Building toilets and more water points that are cleaner and more accessible.

Safety

  • Girls clubs in each of the programs provide girls a safe space to study, learn, and play with other girls.
  • Distributing solar lamps at night and helping delay child marriage. 

Leadership

  • Sending mentors door-to-door to look for girls who need help and providing a safe place for caring adult mentors to meet with girls on a weekly basis

On behalf of Girl Up, thank you for your support for girls around the world. 

Links:

Jan 17, 2013

The Gift of Life

Ethan
Ethan

I’m just back from Africa where, between visits to rural villages and health centers, I had the chance to reunite with the Kenyan family that hosted me during a study abroad trip in 1987. The kids I met there – like me – are now adults with kids of their own. Hearing their stories and seeing their kids reminds me how important it is that every child, everywhere has access to life-saving vaccines.  

The youngest boy, Ethan, will turn two in February. He was born on the very day that, with support from the GAVI Alliance, Kenya introduced a new pneumonia vaccine into their immunization program. Over lunch in Nairobi recently, the boys’ mom remarked that Ethan’s brother, Enrique, had two bouts of pneumonia in his first 2 years, yet Ethan has had none.  

For most of us in the United States, few parents worry that pneumonia could take the life of their baby. Our children are generally well-nourished, completely vaccinated, and have access to hospitals and treatments. I think that’s why Americans are always so surprised when I tell them that pneumonia kills more children than any other illness. They also react with frustration when I point out that, for just a few dollars, these children’s lives can be saved and their parents spared the trauma of losing a child.

Will you join me and make a $20 donation to protect a child in a developing country against deadly but preventable diseases like pneumonia?

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