Meeting with Frontline Health Care Workers in The Indira Kalyan Camp

India’s Frontline Health Care Workers: Working door to door to save lives

Author’s note: This is the second post documenting my visit on behalf of Mom Bloggers for Social Good to see Save the Children’s work at the Indira Kalyan slum in Delhi, India. To read the first post click here

India has made a tremendous amount of progress over the last two decades fighting to save the lives of mothers and children. A decade ago close to 75,000 women died during childbirth every year and this number has been reduced to 56,000 in 2010. Significant progress has also been made in newborn survival. Since 1990, India has reduced the rate of deaths of children under 5 by 46% or almost in half. Despite the major achievements, newborn and maternal dealths are still way too high given the tragic fact that many of these deaths are largely preventable. The situation is especially dire in India, the second most populous country in the world, with a hugely disproportionate percentage of maternal and newborn deaths.

The Indira Kalyan Camp Delhi

Inside The Indira Kalyan Camp, an unauthorized slum in Delhi

The Indira Kalyan Camp

Women inside the indira Kalyan Camp

Per Save the Children’s 2013 State of World’s Mother’s Report:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 deaths of children under age five are in India. (1.6 million children or 29% of the global total ).
  • 19% of these deaths take place on the day a child is born and 53% occur within the first month of birth.
  • Large scale inequities within India continue to persist today in terms of wealth disparities, rural-urban divide, education, age of mother, caste, which means that not all babies born in India have an equal change of survival.
Children within the Indira Kalyan Camp

Children within the Indira Kalyan Camp pose for a picture

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Save the Children: “Bringing healthcare to the Doorstep” in the slums of Delhi

India, the second most populous country in the world, is known for her rich, vibrant culture and civilization that has spanned thousands of years. Over the last two decades, India’s economy has grown at breakneck speed becoming the world’s 10th largest economy in 2011 and is projected to be among the fifth largest by 2050 (per a recent report by economic think-tank Centre for Economics and Business Research).  Yet despite the enormous economic success of the “Elephant“, as India has been sometimes called, tragically a large percentage of the Indian population have been left behind.

Millions of Indians live in dire poverty especially the people who have left the villages and have come to the urban centers searching for a better life. According to the World Bank, rural and urban poverty in India remains painfully high, holding the unfortunate record of having the largest concentration of poor people in the world: 240 million rural poor and 72 million urban poor.  With poverty, an immeasurable suffering has also taken hold. Hunger, malnutrition and a high level of preventable diseases and death have struck India’s poor and have unfairly impacted women and children.

Indian girls inside a Delhi slum

Smiling and hopeful Indian girls within a Delhi slum are sadly thin.

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The Birth of a Mother

In honor of today’s release of Save the Children’s annual State of World Mother’s report, I am sharing the emotional aspects of my birth story to help advocate for the one million newborns that die needlessly and helplessly within the first 24 hours of life. By sharing my birth story, I am joining moms from across the United States to help bring awareness and advocacy steps in making the first 24 hours of life count. The bottom of this post will have more information on the results of the report and how you can help spread the word. 


Me and my son Max, right after his birth. 11/11/04.

I will be completely honest. I was never sure that I wanted to become a mother. At 32, I felt my life was already fulfilling enough, being happily married, working hard in my career and enjoying traveling to crazy places, running marathons and having all the freedom I could possibly want. Perhaps I was selfish but I was happy.

All this changed the day I was half way around the world, doing my very first dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, when I got the call. That terrible call that I will never forget. The call to tell me that my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew had unexpectedly died. I was in shock. It couldn’t be true. How could a healthy, beautiful happy child that I had seen only two weeks ago be gone just like a flick of a light. How could something so ungodly awful and tragic happen? I felt raw. Numb. And deeply distraught. Although I wasn’t a mother and I couldn’t possibly understand, I loved that little boy with the bright blue eyes and the dashing smile. It was that tragedy that made me realize how short and precious life truly is and how I couldn’t imagine not possibly being a mother myself.

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Help Save the Children: Petition for A National Commission on Children


Photo credit: Save the Children

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.” – Barack Obama

One of my favorite organizations to work with is Save the Children. Save the Children is one of the leading organizations of helping children worldwide. Their vision is “a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.”

Perhaps because I’m a mom, I feel this innate need to protect children from harm. For children are so innocent and are the future of our world.  That is why I use my voice to advocate for children worldwide whether it by through writing and educating people about children’s issues on my blog, using social media to tweet and share facts and statistics about children or conducting face to face meetings with my members of Congress either here in Minnesota or on Capital Hill.


Photo credit: Save the Children.

However, you don’t need to do all that to be an advocate for children. In fact, you can help out by signing this petition below for the creation of a National Commission on Children. Here are the details:

Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 1.18.17 PM

Petition for a National Commission on Children

1)      The Situation:

  • Every child deserves a happy and safe childhood and an opportunity for a bright future.  But for too many—including the 20 young lives lost in Newtown, CT and the 16 million who live in poverty—that isn’t a reality.
  • The challenges for this generation of America’s children are unlike any we’ve seen before. We cannot stand by and let fear, violence and poverty become pervasive parts of childhood in America.
  • While Save the Children endorses the President’s proposal to curb gun violence, as well as measures to expand mental health services, these are just the first steps toward addressing a very complex issue: the safety and well-being of all children in a country where nearly 1 in 4 lives in poverty.

2)      The Solution:

  • Proactive policy initiatives that protect our nation’s children are critical not only to a child’s development, but to the health and stability of our country.
  • In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children, together with Children’s Health Fund, Every Child Matters, First Focus, Harlem Children’s Zone and Share Our Strength, has launched a petition urging the Obama Administration and Congress to establish a National Commission on Children. The partner organizations will send their signed call for action to the White House prior to the President’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12.
  • The new Commission should be tasked with creating a national policy on children and setting goals for reducing childhood poverty, obesity, illiteracy, and violence.
  • The support for the petition continues to grow, with more and more prominent organizations joining the cause every day, including the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Catholic Charities USA , Child Care Aware® of America, Girls Inc., KaBOOM!, National Association of School Nurses and the YMCA of the USA.
  • The first National Commission on Children was formed by President Reagan and Congress in 1987 and ultimately led to the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other important initiatives.  Twenty-five years later, it’s time for another Commission to develop bold, new ideas to tackle today’s challenges.
  • Child protection has been a top priority for Save the Children throughout its nearly 100-year history. The organization’s programs in the United States and across the globe focus on the needs of the most vulnerable children, while aiming to keep all children free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.
  • Immediately following the Dec. 14 tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children—headquartered in nearby Westport, Conn.—deployed staff to provide emotional support to the children and parents in the affected community. 

3)      Call to action and what you can do to help:

  • Now, the entire country must come together to find bold, new ideas to ensure all of America’s children are safe and protected. We can do more, and we must do more. We’re asking everyone to join our urgent call for a National Commission by signing this petition today.

Together let’s make the world a better place and give our children the future they deserve. One of life, liberty and justice for all.

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On the ground in Ethiopia

This week, Jennifer James, the founder of Global Team of 200, who I’m honored to write for, is on the ground in Ethiopia learning all about the issues Frontline Health Care Workers face in one of the poorest countries of the world. Jennifer is in Ethiopia along with three distinguished US nurses on behalf of Save the Children. Back in September, I had written a post about Save the Children’s campaign “Every Beat Matters” (to read post, click here). I was extremely touched by this campaign and what Save the Children is doing to help save lives. Jennifer published her first account of day one in Ethiopia today on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s blog “Impatient Optimists“. I asked Jennifer if I could share her story here as well and she was thrilled. 


A woman has her child vaccinated by a Health Extension Work at the Germana Health Post in Ethiopia. Photo credit: Impatient Optimists


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The REAL Awards: Honoring Health Workers around the world

Reaching a child’s fifth birthday is the focus of several campaigns out there to raise awareness, support and funding for the Child Survival Call to Action. In 2010, 7.6 million children died from preventable causes. Although this figure has improved over the last few decades, it is still a tragedy and unacceptable.

Esther Madudu, a frontline health care worker. Photo Source: Save the Children.

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Save the Children, Hurricane Sandy and how you can help

Save the Children has been instrumental in helping the countless families hit by Hurricane Sandy.  Ever since this “superstorm” struck the east coast, Save the Children has been there to offer on the ground support to those impacted by the disaster. Even at a time when Save the Children’s own offices in Westport, Connecticut were struck and severely damaged and many of their Connecticut, New Jersey and New York-based staff were—and in some cases continue to be—without power.

However, this has not dampened Save the Children’s spirit to continue to help those who are most vulnerable in any emergency situation—kids. That’s why Save the Children has been deploying emergency response teams to some of the hardest hit areas in New York and New Jersey. To help establish a sense of normalcy in shelters, they are providing kid-friendly activities to create a safe and supportive place for children to play with their peers and caring adults in the midst of the turmoil that surrounds them. Save the Children’s  CEO, Carolyn Miles, recently visited a shelter in Atlantic City where she saw one of these safe play areas first-hand. At the bottom of this post is an account on Carolyn’s experience titled “Do You Think They’re Ok?”— Kids Recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Check out this YouTube Video on how Save the Children is working with families in New York and New Jersey shelters to ensure children are safe and protected.

How can you help?

Please spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and networks. If you would like to help kids affected by Sandy, you can do so by texting HURRICANE to 20222 to donate $10 to Hurricane Sandy Relief from your mobile phones*or to donate through our webpage


“Do You Think They’re Ok?”— Kids Recover from Superstorm Sandy

By Carolyn | Published November 5, 2012

The shelter in the Atlantic City Convention Center shelter is a huge sprawling hall with a constant wave of people arriving and leaving in a regular ebb and flow each day.  Some families have just arrived from other shelters, some go back to devastated houses, and some come back to stay for what might be weeks.

Many of those who come to shelters in New Jersey—like this one run by the Red Cross—are families who can least afford to lose a week’s wages, a refrigerator of food, or a room full of furniture, much less a house or apartment. They are working class or poor families, usually with kids. As is the case here in Atlantic City, kids make up at least 25% of the population in shelters in affected areas.

I met many of these kids on my visit today and they all had stories to share.

Carolyn talks with 17-year-old high school student Alondra and her mom Genoueva.

Alondra is 17. She and her extended family—mom, dad, uncle, aunt, siblings and cousins—have an area with cots pushed together in one corner of the hall.  She told me how she had first gone to a shelter at Rutgers University the weekend before the storm when they heard about the threat to the area where they lived in downtown Atlantic City.  But now Rutgers needs to get students back to class and her family was bused to the Atlantic City shelter yesterday.  While they were grateful for the cots, blankets and food, Alondra, a bright high school senior, was worried about how she would get to school later in the week when classes finally started up again. 

And Alondra wasn’t the only one who hoping to be back to school.  A younger boy I met gave me a tearful look when I mentioned school and told me, “I really want to go back but I just don’t know when I can.  I miss my friends and I don’t even know how they are.  Do you think they are okay?”  I told him I was sure they were and that Save the Children was working on getting kids transportation for when schools got back up and running, so hopefully he can be back with his friends soon.

There were so many stories from kids today about how they’re dealing with the after-effects of Superstorm Sandy, but one that really struck me came from 14 year-old Peter. Peter also lived in Atlantic City and described the scene when he and his family went back to see his house after the storm passed.  “The water rose almost five feet and we only have one floor so everything was ruined.  They condemned my house yesterday,” he told me stoically.  Peter and his family have nowhere else to go at this point, but Peter is spending his time working with the Save the Children team in the shelter, playing with the younger kids and keeping them busy in the Child-Friendly Space we set up on one edge of the family area.  Here, at least, kids can play games and do activities and just be kids at least for a little while.

Save the Children has mobilized to help children and families affected by Sandy. We are setting up Child-Friendly Spaces—safe play areas that allow children to play, socialize, and begin to recover from emotional distress during emergencies—in New Jersey and New York. And we’re working with national partners, including the American Red Cross and FEMA, to assess and address the needs of children in the storm’s aftermath.

We’re also asking our supporters to do what they can to help children. We’re asking them to text HURRICANE to 20222 to donate $10 to Hurricane Sandy Relief from their mobile phones*or to donate through our webpage.

Save the Children responds to emergencies in the U.S. and around the world every year—and this time, it’s in our own backyard. But whether it’s close to home or on the other side of the world, the needs of children are the same and helping them get back to normal is our top priority.

Sandy has devastated areas of the East Coast. It has displaced families, destroyed property and claimed too many lives. There’s a lot of work to do. But I meant what I said to all of the kids and parents I met today: yes, it’s going to be okay. We’re here for you, we’re here for your children and we’ll be with you every step of the way. 




Social Good Sundays: Every Beat Matters – Saving lives through the power of a song

September is a special month. My youngest child Sophia reached a huge milestone. She started Kindergarten. As thousands of children across the United States headed off to their first day of school, millions of children around the world did not have this opportunity. In fact, the number of children dying every year from preventable diseases in developing countries is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the U.S.  This devastating statistic alone should be enough to make you want to do more.

My daughter started kindergarten this fall. Will this girl have the opportunity to do the same?

September is also a special month for the millions of voiceless children around the world who fight hard each day to stay alive. September is Child Survival month. The Child Survival Call to Action Summit was held in June at our nation’s capital with an urgent message: A plea to world leaders to act now to promote efforts to curtail child mortality.  One of the outcomes of the summit was a call to non-profit organizations, businesses, celebrities and journalists to spend the month of September drawing attention to Child Survival.

The urgent need to address this unacceptable, changeable reality has lead to many amazing initiatives launched this month in honor of Child Survival. Save the Children, the leader in the field of saving children’s lives around the globe, has taken things a step further in their “Every Beat Matters” campaign by using social media and rock stars to literally sing their cause, giving a voice to the voiceless.

Every Beat Matters aims to make basic lifesaving health care available to children around the world so that millions more survive. Every year, more than 7 million newborns and children die before their 5th birthday-mostly from preventable and treatable causes, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. Every Beat Matters champions training and supporting frontline health care works as the best investment to sustainably improve children’s health in the world’s poorest and more remote communities”.

We all can relate to the power of a song. Music has the power to bring you back to your youth and relive an experience that meant the world to you. It also has the power to inspire you, motivate you and change your outlook on life. Save the Children has brilliantly championed the power of a song to help save lives around the globe.

Every Beat Matters is not your every day social good campaign. It is extraordinary. In a strategic partnership with the popular American band OneRepublic, Save the Children has done something completely off the charts. They recorded the heartbeats of children that they serve in far off, remote places in the world, and carried their heartbeats back to be placed inside a new hit singled called “Feel Again”. When you listen to the song for the first time, it feels as if the children are somehow present.

On Every Beat Matters’ website, you can listen to the children’s heartbeats that made the song. It is extremely touching.

When you listen to “Feel Again” the music lifts you up and makes you want to dance. As one of the members of the band says in an interview about the making of the song, “Having an opportunity to be a voice for these children and be basically yelling to people that this is unacceptable” is a truly powerful feeling. OneRepublic hopes “Feel Again” becomes an internet sensation and travels far through social media to educate and motivate people to act.

Download the song. Share the video of Feel Again on your social media sites. Like the page. It is amazing how easy and simple it is to give back and help save the world’s children, our hope and our future for a better day.

Following is the YouTube link to three amazing videos that are bound to inspire you to act:

    1. A Heartbeat’s Journey – Every Beat Matters (perhaps the most powerful one of all).
    2. The Making of OneRepublic’s song Feel Again.
    3. An exclusive interview with OneRepublic on what making this song means to them.

People can visit Every Beat Matters to download “Feel Again” and learn more about the campaign. A portion of the proceeds from each download will benefit Save the Children and help increase child survival.