As you may know, Kristof along with his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, co-wrote a book and started a movement, both entitled Half the Sky, dedicated to raising awareness of the worldwide oppression of women and girls and providing concrete steps to fight these problems and empower women. Towards that end, Half the Sky has highlighted a number of women-focused charitable groups committed to bettering the condition of women. Edna Adan's Hospital is one of their featured programs. Currently, Half the Sky is partnering with The Huffington Post and The Skoll Foundation on the RaiseForWomen Challenge, a fundraising campaign designed to raise money for organizations that support women and girls. The organization that raises the most money by June 6 will be awarded an additional $40,000, the second place team will get a $20,000 cash prize, and the third place team will walk away with $15,000. If the hospital wins the first place prize, Edna will purchase her country's first mammography machine. I am doing everything that I can financially to help Edna win this challenge, and am asking YOU to join me to help the women and children who will benefit from the hospital's work.
So why should you give to one hospital halfway across the world? And why am I so invested in seeing Edna's team place in the top three?
Imagine you are a woman turning sixty (as I will be later this year). You have already enjoyed a long and distinguished career in public service. You were the first woman qualified as a nurse-midwife in Somalia; a former First Lady of Somalia; and when civil war ravaged your country and forced you into exile, you worked for many years in senior positions at the World Health Organization addressing pressing maternal and child health care issues such as the need for skilled birth attendants and ending the practice of female genital mutilation.
Many in Edna's position might have justifiably chosen to rest on their laurels. Instead, upon retiring from WHO, she decided to continue giving back to her country. While I applaud the celebrities and CEOs who have applied their wealth and/or fame to humanitarian causes, Edna is a humanitarian of a different sort -- cut from the same cloth as Mother Teresa orPaul Farmer. In fact, she has been called the Muslim Mother Teresa. Instead of retiring to enjoy her golden years in comfort, she sold most of her possessions and invested her life savings to fulfill a lifelong ambition -- building the first maternity hospital in Somaliland where too many women were dying in childbirth, girls were regularly being subjected to female genital mutilation and infant mortality rates were among the highest in the world.
What could a single woman possibly hope to accomplish?
In the 11 years since the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital opened its doors in 2002, remarkable changes have occurred. Even though the hospital sees the highest risk cases, maternal mortality among mothers in the hospital is just one-fourth of the national average. Skilled birth attendance and facility-based deliveries have been expanded with over 14,000 babies safely delivered. The number of women and newborns receiving quality post-natal care has increased dramatically, and more than 300 women have undergone successful fistulae repairs. And in a region where the ranks of nurses and midwives was decimated during a brutal civil war, Edna has trained and/or recruited over 100 senior midwives and another 100 community midwives, 200 nurses and 250 lab technicians and pharmacists -- and counting.
The list of women humanitarians who have devoted their lives (and livelihood) to helping oppressed women and children in the poorest corners of the world is relatively short -- Nawal El Saadawi in Egypt, Wangari Maathai in Kenya, Yanar Mohammed in Iraq, Shitin Ebadi in Iran and of course Mother Teresa in India. Edna Adan deserves to be included in this company. She is the real deal -- a tireless advocate in defense of maternal and child health, a courageous and vocal opponent of female genital mutilation and at age 75, still a real force of nature with a will of steel.
She's my personal hero.
I hope that, like Mother Theresa, Edna Adan will continue her extraordinary work for many years to come, but she has already ensured that her hospital and her legacy will endure by training the next generation of nurses and midwives in Somaliland.
Please consider joining me in supporting Edna and her work. A donation of any size would be greatly appreciated and can be made here.
About Friends of Edna's Maternity Hospital
Friends of Edna's Maternity Hospital is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds for the hospital built by Edan Adan Ismail in order to address the grave health problems that endanger the lives of women and children in Somaliland. Founded in 2000 by a group of Americans and Somalilanders living in the U.S., Friends of Edna makes annual grants to the hospital based on its need and maintains an endowment to ensure that the hospital will continue to fulfill its mission for generations to come. For more information, contact Amy Szabo at firstname.lastname@example.org.