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Monday, May 28, 2012
My Passion - Eleanor Shepherd
“When you don’t
have a clue what to write about, write about your passion.” This advice to authors running on
empty, appeals to me today. One of
my passions, I realized in conversation with friends on Saturday, is work being
done to help mothers and children in the developing world. It is not only because this work is the
bread and butter of my husband, Glen and mine also for two days a week. The efforts to help grab my heart and
get me choked up, when I hear about conditions there. I immediately want to tell everyone about it, so they will
engage in this work too.
What is it like in
the developing world? It is filled
with ordinary people like you and me, except they had the disadvantage of being
born in a part of the world that has not enjoyed the economic prosperity and
political liberty we so often take for granted.
The truth of this
hit me again when our daughter offered us a gift of medicines sent to the
developing world in our honour, as the Christmas present from her baby
daughter, Sanna. My joy is
to go out and buy clothes and toys for our little granddaughter who brings such
pleasure to us. She is our first
grandchild and I cannot do enough for her. If her mother even suggests she could use something, I run
off to the store to get it for her.
The note our
daughter gave us with her gift, reminded me again of how fortunate we are. If Sanna had been born anywhere
in the developing world, she may not have made it, and we might have lost her
mother as well. It is so common
for mothers to die in childbirth.
Chances are Elizabeth’s elevated blood pressure would never have been
diagnosed. Not having delivered
eighteen hours after her water broke, she would likely have suffered from
infections, spreading them with Sanna, with no antibiotics to treat them. Had Sanna weathered all of that stress,
emerging with the cord around her neck, would likely have been the end for
her. Today I would be living with
grief and loss, instead of gratitude and elation. These reflections increase my compassion for so many
grandmothers in the developing world, who having survived overwhelming odds
themselves, are hit with the sorrow of the loss of child and grandchild.
thoughts are sobering, hope keeps me going. The United Nations established Millennium
Goals that include the provision of care for women giving birth and for
children under the age of five who often die of easily preventable
diseases. They have set specific
targets for the reduction of the mortality level of women and children. We are
working to see those goals realized.
International of Canada (HPIC) is working with partner agencies to establish a
training program for rural medical teams in the developing world so that they
can recognize and address some of the high risks in pregnancy, and therefore
save the lives of mothers and their babies.
The nurse, who
administers a rural health station, in the developing world often handles many different
diagnoses in the course of a day.
She may observe in a child, unique symptoms she has never encountered
before. To help her, HPIC and its
partners are producing a pediatric handbook, developed by a doctor who spent
his career working in rural Africa.
Hard copies and electronic versions will ensure widespread distribution. This guide will save the lives of many children.
that most excites me is in some senses the simplest, but may well be the most
effective. A kit of basic medical supplies
will be available from women in the community who receive a level one training
in health care. They will know how
to deal with the most common health problems, arising in the developing
world. The kits will equip them to
address these situations. For
examples, we know many of the children who die in the developing world, do so
from dehydration brought on by diarrhea.
This can be effectively addressed and cured and children’s lives
saved. Mothers who if they were
well nourished would have the strength to deliver their babies will be able to
receive vitamin supplements. None
of this is rocket science, but it makes a huge difference in the lives of
families in the developing world.
I love being a
mother. I love being a
grandmother. I want others to share
that joy. Helping make it
happen ignites my passion.