The International Day of Families provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. The theme for 2015 is: Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children’s Rights in Contemporary Families. Within the context of the development goals, this theme is timely and spot on! Discussion of future goals to elevate health, gender equality and children’s rights involves engaging more men in charge. This year, as we build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we have an opportunity to share more stories that celebrate leadership in supporting families with their social and economic successes. Happy International Day of Families from the Children’s Prize!

Below are a couple of examples from the Children’s Prize portfolio illustrating how dynamic leadership makes a positive difference:

Aleyda K. Mejia (center), Children’s Prize Director,  is accompanied by father and daughter during 2014 Pakistan field project visit.
Aleyda K. Mejia (center), Children’s Prize Director, is accompanied by father and daughter during 2014 Pakistan field project visit.

During our visit to Pakistan, in 2014, we met with a father and his daughter and had an opportunity to learn about their incredible story.The young lady to the right will be the youngest midwife trained in the local community of Rehri Goth. Her family lives in a very conservative part of the village, and her father played a critical role in ensuring that she’d pursue her midwifery studies. He stood firm for both himself and his daughter. In tears, he explained how proud he was that his daughter would have this opportunity through Dr. Anita Zaidi’s Children’s Prize project. Not only will a select group of women in the community receive valuable and life-saving training, but the experience will also provide them with an income.

Women acting out a Drama about birth in Uganda.
Women acting out a Drama about birth in Uganda.

Meet our partner Safe Mothers Safe Babies (aka SAFE)! Located in Uganda, their project includes Save for SAFE Deliveries and Save for SAFE Families, primary ways that Safe Mothers, Safe Babies seeks to help women and their families prepare for birth and health emergencies. In this region of the country, as in many similarly disadvantaged locations, families do not have enough money to pay for transport and medical supplies during birth and medical emergencies. It can take hours, or even days, for them to borrow enough money from relatives and neighbors to save enough to secure transportation. During a health emergency or a complicated delivery, those hours and days can result in significant injuries or death to women, babies, and children.

Saving boxes painted and ready to be sold.
Saving boxes painted and ready to be sold.

To address this issue, the Save for SAFE Deliveries and Save for SAFE Families projects encourage a culture of saving to prepare for the expenses of childbirth and childhood illnesses. Working in partnership with SAFE community groups, we work to normalize the idea that everyone will need to get medical care at some point and that the best thing to do is to prepare for that event. Pregnant women, their partners, and families of young children are educated about maternal, child, and family health. We target the ENTIRE family – incorporating men in the discussion – because they are often the decision-makers and could equally benefit from saving for health emergencies. We normalize this idea by encourage families to purchase a savings box (at cost, about $0.40) and deposit a small amount of money in the box every day. The boxes are made by the community groups using materials that SAFE supplies; the groups chose to use boxes that have to be broken open to access the money as a way to deter spending. Best part of it all? It’s works! Women have expressed both joy and gratitude for having saved enough money to cover some of the expenses of motherhood that would have otherwise negatively affected their chances and their newborn baby’s chances of surviving birth.

“On my last born I did everything I was told, because I was told to save, told to call the eRanger [motorcycle ambulance] when I reached the time to go to the health center to deliver, and then I did everything I was told. I felt so happy because before I wasn’t comfortable, I was moving on a boda boda [motorcycle taxi]. But now I get my baby well, I take good care, and I get good care because I follow all what I was told to do. I had money to [go] and even to eat something because I saved my money.”

SAFE eRanger user and her newborn with eRanger driver
SAFE eRanger user and her newborn with eRanger driver