Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

In some places people still believe in the ancient law of Hammurabi: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth-- and a life for a life. In no time or place, however, have people ever believed in the 'law' which nature all too often enforces: a mother's life as the 'price' for giving birth to her child. United Nations Secretary General Ban says, "No woman should have to pay with her life to be a mother." Few would disagree-- but how much is being done to stop maternal deaths? The good news is that progress is being made: in 2008 the number of deaths around the globe stood at 342,900-- down considerably from 526,300 in 1980. The less good news is that much of this reflects economic progress in the two largest countries, China and India, meaning that our poorest countries still have shockingly high maternal death rates. The bad news is that to the old mix of causes of maternal death has been added the new and growing problem of AIDS: about 60,000 of the maternal deaths in 2008 were due to the disease. And there's more: in a number of states, maternal mortality is increasing. Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast all registered large increases in already high mortality rates. But poor countries with little infrastructure were not the only ones showing increased maternal death rates increased sharply in the United States as well. These were already more than twice as high as in most other developed countries.

What can be done? In the US, I believe both our unusually high maternal and infant mortality rates will decline once universal health care has been achieved-- there is simply no other difference between us and other developed countries with much lower rates. In poorer countries it occurs to me that HopePhones (described here by MoE) might be part of the answer. We know the pieces of the puzzle: pregnant women require prenatal care, protection from diseases like malaria which can complicate pregnancy and childbirth, trained birth attendants and access to hospitals in emergency cases. At an even more basic level they need knowledge, clean environments, safe water and fresh, nutritious food. Organizations like Women Deliver, in conjunction with local organizations, could design education programs both to teach mothers and train attendants. HopePhones could then provide the cell phones that would allow mothers to call attendants and attendants to consult with doctors and call for emergency back up if necessary.

Women are the glue in families and cultures. When mothers die, both fall apart.

Views: 28

Comment by Chris Ke Sihai on May 10, 2010 at 5:05pm
Hi Sarah,

I like the concept, although I think the major problem is one of security for any westerner that goes to these regions to try and teach people. I just wrote an article about the monopoly on truth claimed by the Taliban, but didn't really talk about how someone giving basic advice would be perceived as a threat. It boils down to 'if it didn't come from us then it must be a lie/threat.'

Have you considered ways in which phones or XO laptops could be used as teaching tools?

Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on May 10, 2010 at 5:19pm
Thanks, Chris. I agree, it may not be safe for Westerners in many areas-- and in fact I don't think there's really any need for them to go. It should be possible to identify trained health workers and midwives within the country who can give basic instruction to local people and consult with them by cell phone. The HopePhones model is a good one, I think, and should be possible in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

(For those not on my friends list, who didn't receive my e-mail, I'm thinking about an Evoke that would focus on maternal and infant health in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan).
Comment by Ursula Kochanowsky on May 10, 2010 at 7:49pm
Yeah, thats going to be your biggest challenge, leveraging the vision into a place you cant go and can't directly affect.
Definitely check out the feasibility before you start. You're going to be facing culture, language, and maybe even religious barriers.
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on May 11, 2010 at 12:18am
Ursula-- agree completely. Still just really exploring the idea at the moment. I also want to find out about being involved in more than one Evoke before I make this one, because I really would like to be part of yours and Nick's and Patricio's project(s). (I'm not sure to what extent you've talked about making it a joint project.)

Chris-- this is great! Thanks so much for the links! I've also thought about approaching Greg Mortenson's group, the Central Asia Institute. A number of the girls who've gone to their schools have gone on to do midwife and health care training on a scholarship from them. Starting with the communities those girls are from might be ideal-- allowing them to go back to their own villages and work at good jobs there while protecting the health and maybe even saving the lives of their own friends and relatives. That might also help to reconcile some of the fathers and male relatives who are still reluctant to let their girls continue their studies.
Comment by Ursula Kochanowsky on May 11, 2010 at 12:53am
Sarah..to be honest..
It looks like me, Patricio and Nick are all pulling in different directions along similar courses. We all know how we fit into each others projects but were really busy building up our own little domains. For instance the moment I get the bugs worked out of the website from using it in Tallahassee, I'm headed in Nicks direction, and as soon as we get it working for his area I know it can be used all over the US, then its moving onto Patricio. Nicks working hard on building his gratitude garden network and Patricio is still organizing the many different streams of info to create community urban farms.
Nick and I are partnered working together but at the end of the day, hes putting in his own evokation. And I'm putting in mine because they are two really different ideas that work well with each other but is too big to accomplish when lumped together to be under one banner. Besides, they've just sort of left me working away..so regardless of if they get their acts together, i've got stuff to work on.

You can be involved in more then one evokation, it is allowed. Like Nick has his and SEED. So feel free to explore this and even put in an evokation. Having played the game to the end I realize now evoke is more about each person being the center of attention rather then multiple and large groups of people working together to make change. I think the goal is to get us each as individuals galvanizing the forces and resources we have around us whether or not they're here or in real life. Its just hard to work as a group when we're half way across the world.

As for helping on our projects, ask yourself, what can you bring to them and what do you need to work and just start working.
Comment by Sarah Shaw Tatoun on May 13, 2010 at 1:25am
Ursula, thanks-- I guess we can all be part of the overall concept through Patricio's OUR evocation. I'm still thinking about what I might be able to do to help support your database project-- in many ways that seems the most exciting to me because I know it's something that a lot of existing groups want and need NOW. The main problem I see is the one you identified before-- how to support it. I've got a conference to go to this week, but I'll talk to my sister, the master gardener when I get back. It may turn out to be not that hard after all, considering all the avid gardeners there are. A $25 a year-- or more-- fee might seem very reasonable to most of them.


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