A bit more background on me, for those of you who have supported us in the past, and will hopefully continue to support us in the future. My husband Mike and I spent five months living in Dar es Salaam in early 2012, when Mike had the opportunity to work on a project in Tanzania. I took a sabbatical from my work with Deloitte’s Human Capital Consulting practice. Through a series of strange connections, including my soccer coach and the former Board President of Kupona, I was connected to CCBRT. They gladly accepted the “free” management consultant, and gave me the opportunity to lead the development of CCBRT’s 2013-2017 Strategy. And by “led,” I mean that I helped create a framework, researched, interviewed, and facilitated discussions. Consultants come and go – the strategy needed to be something that was owned and developed by CCBRT. You can read CCBRT’s 2013-2017 Strategy on our website.
The more I learned about CCBRT, the more impressed I was by the impact they were having on over a million people each year in Tanzania… The high quality services provided equally to the poorest and to those who could afford to pay more. The comprehensive approach to Community Based Rehabilitation – bringing care for children and adults with disabilities directly to the communities. The focus on sustainability through their Private Clinic and the establishment of Kupona Foundation in 2009. The leadership and staff in Dar es Salaam and Moshi. The public-private partnership with the government of Tanzania. The innovative approaches that CCBRT was not afraid to take – such as using mobile money to transport fistula patients to the Disability Hospital, breaking the transport barrier that prevented the poorest from being cured. I could go on.
When I learned that Kupona’s Executive Director was going to step down with the birth of her second child, I thought that perhaps I could help with the transition. And then I thought, maybe this is the time. As an undergraduate Sociology major and even through Business School, I had maintained a long-term career interest in working in the nonprofit/development world, which was based on my fundamental belief that everyone deserves to have access to opportunity.
We are very fortunate in the United States. We take things for granted sometimes. In the U.S., if I broke my leg playing soccer, I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life with a disability. Friends who had complications giving birth won’t spend the rest of their lives with obstetric fistula, as outcasts in their communities. When my grandmother developed cataracts, she didn’t spend the rest of her life blind.
By preventing and curing disability, CCBRT gives people the opportunity to live – not only changing the lives of patients, but also of their families and communities. This is why I made the decision to join Kupona.
I am optimistic about our future, and of the expanding impact we will have through CCBRT. At this time of year, as we give thanks for our family, friends, and health, consider helping others have the same opportunities through a gift that will change lives.
Hello friends, followers and supporters,
We are back, after a hiatus from blog posts and social media. I took over as Kupona’s Executive Director in early September, and experienced a whole new level of “hitting the ground running.” Kupona’s founding Executive Director, Katie Flanagan, spent time with me transitioning until the day before she gave birth to a baby girl in late September. Our Third Annual Golf Outing was October 3rd, and we had inspiring visits from Erwin Telemans, CCBRT’s CEO and Dr. Brenda D’mello, Technical Advisor to CCBRT’s Maternal and Newborn Program in the first, second and fourth weeks of October.
As we re-launch the blog, I will be making a series of posts to introduce myself, share more detail around what we’ve been up to, address a series of questions that I have asked or been asked, and (re)introduce Kupona and CCBRT’s shared vision. To keep things interesting, I’ll make it a point to share photos as well – two recent construction photos are below, and you can view all of the most recent photos on Facebook. I have learned a lot in my first two+ months as Executive Director, and I am extremely excited about the work happening on the ground in Tanzania and the potential for us to directly support that work. We are changing lives.
Last night, Kupona joined with Gradian Health Systems and the International Collaboration for Essential Surgery (ICES) to host a screening of the documentary film “The Right to Heal.” This film, directed by the newest member of Kupona Foundation’s Board of Directors, Jaymie Henry, M.D., makes the case for improving access to basic surgical procedures in the developing world. Back in April, we were extremely fortunate to have Jaymie and her crew visit CCBRT to film our work. We are extremely excited to be a part of this project.
“The Right to Heal” will continue to film in various locations over the course of the year, and Kupona hopes to host another screening of the final product at a later date. For now, you can check out the teaser clip below and get involved in the movement at http://therighttoheal.org/. Click “Sign the Petition” to bring essential surgery to the forefront of the global health conversation!
Yesterday, our implementing partner, CCBRT, was honored to welcome President and Mrs. George W. Bush during a private visit to its facilities. The visit came following President and Mrs Bush’s key note speeches at the Bush Center’s Africa First Ladies Summit: “Investing in women, Strengthening Africa.” In line with the theme of the summit, CCBRT took this opportunity to outline its efforts to rebuild the lives of women with obstetric fistula, empower them both socially and economically through training at the Mabinti Center, and to improve the level of healthcare available to expectant mothers and their newborns.
During their visit to CCBRT’s obstetric fistula department, President and Mrs. Bush heard the story of Halima, who, at just 25 years old, lived with fistula for six months before finally receiving treatment at CCBRT. President and Mrs. Bush listened as Halima told them how she had been referred to hospital for treatment months earlier, but despite advice from doctors, her family took her to a traditional healer. Convinced she was bewitched, Halima lived with incontinence for another 2 months before she was identified by CCBRT’s community outreach team. Halima was finally referred to CCBRT for treatment free of charge, and was given support with the transport costs via Vodafone M-PESA. Clearly moved by her story, President Bush embraced Halima at the end of her testimony and thanked the 40 women that sang to greet the visitors.
On their departure, both President and Mrs. Bush praised CCBRT for our “devoted care” as we strive to help the poorest of the poor in Tanzania and to create a Tanzania where people have access to quality disability services and safe maternal and newborn healthcare.
Kupona is thrilled to announce that our implementing partner in Dar es Salaam, CCBRT, and its Mabinti Center have been chosen as two highlighted programs during the African First Ladies Summit ‘Investing in Women, Strengthening Africa’ on the 2nd July 2013!
The Summit, coordinated by The Bush Center, will bring together African First Ladies, government officials, private organizations, NGOs and academics to discuss best practices that can reap sustainable, replicable results, benefit women and strengthen society.
CCBRT not only invests in women in the present, but seeks to have a long term impact upon Tanzania by focusing its efforts on future generations. Summit attendees will learn about the huge success of our holistic obstetric fistula program as well as gaining an insight into our comprehensive maternal and newborn healthcare program and the work we do for children with disabilities.
CCBRT and Kupona are excited to welcome the delegation to Tanzania, and look forward to participating in this vital international discussion upon the importance of women as the key to unlocking development.
On Thursday, June 6, Kupona Board Member James Mann hosted a cocktail reception at his home for supporters of Kupona. The goal: raise money to fund nurse midwives in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – a critical need in a region facing significant human resource challenges in health care. The efforts that night raised enough to fund one full time nurse-midwife for a year!
Many thanks to our host, James Mann, the supporters who attended the event, and Melanie Quinn Photography for capturing some great photos of the reception. You can check out a full album of images on our Facebook page.
The OB ward is long, barrack-shaped, concrete. Triage begins in a foyer. Perhaps 20 women in colorful khangas waiting for a nurse-midwife to check them in and do an initial assessment. Cervical dilation. Blood pressure. A few questions. Eventually these women will join about 45 others in various stages of labor and with a variety of high-risk conditions. Malaria. Previous C-section. Pre-eclampsia. There is so much going on in that small space. Read More
It is not possible to know what to do first.
Rose, age 20, did absolutely everything right – first prenatal visit at 12 weeks, six more during her pregnancy, all the right lab tests. She came in in early labor on 27 April. We saw her on 3 May. Along with 64 other women in labor. She was in the cot at the end of the ward.
There is no morning report or hand-off. It is not a problem, until it is a problem. With the limited resources available, people can respond to problems only when they occur rather than proactively preventing them.
Rose was in the normal labor pile, her prenatal record poorly filled out, partographs rarely used. It was not easy to decipher her story from the chart. Before we even got to that story, we heard a loud cry and saw Rose was about to deliver. She was walked through the double doors and helped onto a delivery bed. It took a long time for the head to deliver. It was immediately obvious. A fresh stillbirth.
The last exam was 24 hours earlier. 7 cm dilated. She should have been delivered long ago. Days ago. The last fetal heart rate was also taken 24 hours earlier. Eight checks in eight days of labor. None in 24 hours. In active labor. In a health care facility.
Much will need to change. And it can change. Must change.
The numbers frame the story. Rose is not just one of those numbers. She is the loud cry at the end of the ward.