An invitation to build a brighter future from Kupona’s Executive Director

My husband and I are expecting our first child in September. Next Mother’s Day, I will be a mother.

A combination of joy and fear
Just writing that fills me with both joy and fear. Joy because this is something we’ve wanted for a long time. Fear because there are so many unknowns. What kind of mom will I be? How will I juggle a career I love, personal relationships, being part of my community and being a mom? What will change?

Abbey shares a joke with recovering fistula patients during her recent trip to CCBRT

During my recent trip to Tanzania, I heard stories from fistula patients at CCBRT and listened as CCBRT staff shared first-hand accounts of women who gave birth in Dar es Salaam healthcare facilities.

My fears seemed insignificant in comparison to their stories of loss, grief and survival. My fears focus on the future. For the women of Tanzania, their fears are more immediate. Will they come out of their delivery unscathed? Will their baby survive delivery? Will they?

Tanzania is one of the most dangerous places in the world to become a mother, with 8,000 women dying every year from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. That’s an average of 22 women who die every day. If I lived in Tanzania, would I be one of the 22?

Drastically different expectations
In the U.S., like most developed countries, we expect a certain standard of medical care. As a mother-to-be, I expect to be treated with respect. I expect that the hospital and medical staff will be prepared with the requisite skills, supplies and equipment to take care of my baby and me. I expect that my husband will be by my side. I expect to leave the hospital with a healthy child, ready to face those fears about life and parenting.

In Tanzania, mothers-to-be expect to share a hospital bed with two or three other women. They expect to deliver alone because there’s no space for the father or family to provide moral support. Low expectations among mothers-to-be in Tanzania are the status quo.

But, why should Tanzanian mothers expect so much less than I do?

Building a brighter future
This Mother’s Day, Kupona’s team has reflected on what motherhood means to us, and why we’re inspired to give to Kupona. Sami is inspired that we are taking luck out of the equation for women like Malela and Salma. Alex sees the opportunity to give more women the chance to celebrate their first Mother’s Day. I’m inspired by the potential for a brighter future. We are strengthening the healthcare system for generations of mothers to come. Together with our partner, CCBRT, we are improving the quality of care at existing public healthcare facilities in Dar es Salaam, while simultaneously completing a new maternity and newborn hospital that will change the face of maternal healthcare in the region. We are raising the bar for quality healthcare in Tanzania.

Every mother deserves the chance to meet her newborn child.
I give to Kupona because I know that in a different time and place, I could be one of the 22 women who needlessly die in childbirth, every day. I give because I am fortunate to be able to focus on the future, and what it will mean to become a mother. I give in honor of my mother, who continues to inspire me every day. And I give because I know we are creating a stronger healthcare system in Tanzania.

Join me to invest in building a brighter future for mothers in Tanzania.


Together, we are giving more mothers-to-be the opportunity to look ahead to the future. We are raising their expectations, and giving them the quality of care that they deserve.

Abbey and her mom, Debby had the opportunity to dream about the future.

Abbey and her mom, Debby had the opportunity to dream about the future.

Wishing you and your family a very Happy Mother’s Day!

With gratitude,

Abbey Kocan
Executive Director, Kupona Foundation

Need a refresher on what you’re helping us achieve for mothers? Watch this 3 minute video.

Through Monday, May 11th, every donation made in honor of a mother will be entered into our prize drawing. The winner will receive a gift from the Mabinti Center, winner of Accessories Designer of the Year at Swahili Fashion Week 2014 Just write ‘In honor of {insert Mom’s name here}’ in your donation description for her chance to win!