When Women of the ELCA decided this past summer to support the 1000 Day Initiative, I was excited by the possibilities. At that time I had no idea a trip to Africa would be in my future. I was part of Bread for the World’s delegation on a three country visit of the 1000 Day Initiative in Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania this past October.
I received an email yesterday. It asked, “Do you still remember the eyes in the hospital or in the village?” It came from our guide on the trip, Gaylord Thomas.
My answer to this question was: “My God, yes, I remember those eyes! I was changed by that trip, Gaylord-I have basically been full steam ahead for justice for the first half of my adult life but working in this institution rounded out some of my edges. I feel like the edges have been reshaped and I *like* the feeling of being full steam ahead for justice again!”
I remember Juliet’s eyes! Those who found her where she was left in the trash figure she is about 3 months old now. Her eyes were one of the brightest pairs at the pediatric clinic we visited in Lusaka, Zambia. Meeting Juliet reshaped one of my edges.
Juliet has laughing eyes. I took her picture and I have looked at those eyes with wonder since I have been home. Dear, sweet Juliet with the sparkling black eyes did your mother die and leave only you behind? When you were placed in the trash can, did someone pray you would be found?
Maternal death is high in many countries in Zambia. In urban areas that rate is 590 per 100,000 (NCBI figures) and in rural areas that rate is 889 per 100,000 births (UNICEF figures), about 8 times higher than that found in an urban hospital-based study. Compare that to our rate (also unacceptable!) of 13.3 per 100,000.
U.S. aid is critical to the continued saving of mothers and children. Please, if you have not yet done so; contact your representatives and ask them to place a circle of protection around programs that feed the hungry—both domestic and internationally. To write to Congress go to: http://www.bread.org/ and then click on “Write to Congress” (along the right side). Bookmark Bread’s page on your computer so you will remember to go back to it again and again.
Let this be the first way we each live out our commitment to the 1,000 Day Initiative.
Inez Torres Davis is Women of the ELCA’s director for justice.
Editor’s note: At the Eighth Triennial Convention this past July the following resolution was presented and adopted by the delegates, calling all of us within the organization to work in support of the 1,000 Day Initiative.
Resolution 2011-2 The 1000 Days Initiative
Whereas, children who do not have proper nutrition through pregnancy to age 2 can be permanently stunted in those 1000 days, as is true in some African countries where 45% of the children are stunted, and
Whereas, crises have led to an increase in hunger and malnutrition placing children, particularly those younger than 2 years of age at special risk for diminished intellectual capacity, impaired immune function, and shorter height, and
Whereas, malnutrition is such a central issue that no fewer than three of the eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals concern improving nutrition, i.e. eradicating hunger, improving maternal health, and reducing child mortality, and
Whereas, globally, women suffer disproportionately from hunger, disease, and poverty, especially in developing countries with the low social, economic, and political status of women contributing to high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, with there almost always being poor access to maternal and child health care, and
Whereas, malnourished women give birth to malnourished children and are at risk of death during childbirth, and
Whereas, women as the primary caregivers to children are critical to improving children’s nutritional status with efforts to reduce extreme poverty and hunger around the world,
Whereas, Women of the ELCA has historically supported programs and advocacy initiatives for women and children living in poverty and currently has the health initiative of Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls, therefore,
Be it resolved, that Women of the ELCA be encouraged to support The 1,000 Days initiative (www.thousanddays.org) through its synodical organizations, its congregations, and its individual participants, and
Be it further resolved, that Women of the ELCA staff provide appropriate support of this involvement with The 1,000 Days initiative with programmatic resources and education through its publications, and
Be it further resolved, that Women of the ELCA be encouraged to work with other women’s denominational organizations, Bread for the World, the Gates Foundation, and the Secretary of State’s office on The 1,000 Days initiative.