I would like to welcome you to the Inspiration Shop. What not a better way to close out another CORE meeting then to have a 1. session that is about knowing you are not alone in your struggles and in your passion for the work you do2. about knowing each other in new and enlightening ways. 3. about making space for reflection and contemplation.4. And remembering what matters the most to usSo before we wrap up this meeting, you are going to hear from a couple of us--- people that have certainly inspired me--- and then at the end we hope that you will be willing to share with us what inspires you
I have met all sorts of people who don’t like what they do. They get no pleasure from it… from the hours they spend at work. They endure it, and wait for the weekend. There are other people that I meet that can’t imagine doing anything else then what they are doing now. An hour of work can whiz by in five seconds because they really enjoy what they do and what they do speaks to their most authentic self. So here is a tale about my authentic self…I grew up the daughter of incredibly funny and creative women and a Boy Scout leader. My mother taught me not to take myself too dang seriously. She was always at the ready to lighten things up. Not surprisingly, “Be prepared!” was one of my father’s favorite sayings. In my house it was important to work hard, acquire an education, take risks, experience life’s challenges and contribute to society. Equally important was the ability to roast the perfect marshmallow, the wherewithal to carry your own toilet paper wherever you go, and have a deep appreciation for the potential that a group working together has. For my eighth birthday my father gave me a globe and told me to explore the world when I grew up. And so I’m here with all you fine people. But then last year I lost both of my parents. My father to a short and horrific battle with pancreatic cancer and my mother to bone cancer. Experiencing them fade out my life reminded me of the two most important things we have are…… time….. and each other.
So I have this photo hanging in my office. When I’m feeling exhausted, I look at it. This family lives in a little village in West Timor. I had the great fortune to be out making the rounds on a visit to that village when our vehicle broke down and so me and my colleagues got to spend the day with this lovely family. I’ve never known such hospitality! The gentleman in the middle is the patriarch of the family. The five older women are his daughters. The family participates in CARE’s programming. The child in the arms of the women in the pink shirt is the first in the family to be exclusively breastfeed and fed an optimal complementary diet. The family made sacrifices to make that happen. And unlike the other children in the family, he is right where he should be on the growth curve. Just to give you a perspective, if I was standing in the picture instead of the one taking it the grandfathers head would come to here on me. I am 5’7”. Like a lot of families we work with, this family has experienced war, drought, flooding, food security, and disease. Sometimes I get really bogged down in statistics and theory- analyzing data and developing strategy. ..But this photo of this family always pulls me back to what really maters. These are the people I work for and I want to keep those smiles on their faces.
Another thing that inspires me about the work I do is that I get to work on programming that helps others feel good about themselves. This is Sumi, a mother from Bangladesh that participated in some of our MCN programming. As a young mother who left her village and moved in with her husband’s family she didn’t have a whole lot of social capital power and autonomy; nevertheless, her husband gave her permission to get involved in our activities and later he joined one of our male groups and her mother-in-law joined one of the grandmother groups. Sumi and her husband, and subsequently her in-laws, practiced optimal IYCF and rMN when she became pregnant with her second child. They are a success story- her child thrived while other children in her village did not and there was a huge difference between her first and second child . Soon the other mothers started coming to Sumi for advice. She joined us during capacity strengthening workshops. Now she is the CHW of her village and the women... and even the men… really appreciate her and even call her “apa” which means doctor. More importantly she feels really good about herself now and what she has to offer her community.
Another thing that inspires me is how hard my colleagues work “out in the field” and the personal and monetary scarifies they make. I once asked a friend who is a health promoter in Nicaragua if I could follow him on his rounds for a day. The day started at 6:30 in the morning and we didn’t get done till around 8 that night. I walked about seven miles up and down hills on dirt paths and even rode in a canoe to get to some of the communities he covered. At the end of the day I was exhausted. Pedro was invigorated! Everybody knows him and he can’t pass somewhere without chatting. He only receives a small stipend for his work and he has to take time off and away from his other two jobs to do the community health work. He sacrifices time away from his family and has no free time that I know of. He even invited an elderly lady with no family around to come live with his family. When I asked him why he is so generous- why he cares so much he told me that in the ten years he has been working as a CHW he figures he has saved at least 50 lives and helped countless others either prevent health issues or get better. He said, “Somebody needs to do this work and besides, I’m really good at it. My family is willing to sacrifice me.”
And so I’m going to end by saying that any solutions rest in the relationships between us…… All we have is each other….. One of the biggest joys I get from my work is being able to create things with other people whether it be research projects with students or professors, videos with the teams I work with, or community events. It is people like all of you that inspire me. Tell about what you have created with folks.
I have done skydiving and acrobatic flying – as a passenger, not as a pilot – but one thing still on my bucket list is to go up in a glider. I love the idea of gliding through the air and being uplifted by the thermals. It amazes me how long they can stay up without any fuel at all, just drawing on the air currents and negotiating the environment they are in. I think there are a lot of thermals in our work – trends and new information and people that can and should give us a lift on a daily basis. Things that can lift us higher and higher.
Here’s one classic one for me. AsGeeta Gupta reminded us on Wednesday, child deaths are plunging. Sometimesa nice stair-stepping graph can be so motivating. Here’s one beautiful graph showing how the number of child deaths (in thousands) has really plunged in the last two decades. To how many of your friends -- who work outside of child survival -- can you say, “You know, concerning your work, it just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t’ it?” What a privilege it is to work shoulder-to-shoulder with so many other people in changing the world in an extremely important, positive, and EFFECTIVE way!
Another thing that is a real updraft for me is some of the crazy – but true – science that I read about how we are put together. For example, in a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that was published this summer, researchers found that ..[Read bullets]We are hardwired – literally down to our physical core, down to our DNA – to do well and be happy when we are doing things with a higher purpose and in service to others. There’s not some fixed quantity of helping others that you are burning through over time before you collapse into a heap and die. Instead, we strengthen ourselves when we pour our lives out for others through the work we do.
Here’s another updraft, a graph from one of our projects that shows what portion of the total time put into the project was put in by volunteers – 84%. This makes me wonder if we are even scratching the surface when it comes to the resources that we can tap into to make maternal and child survival happen. The total value of the time the volunteers put in – poor women in a developing country – was $904K over five years. Collectively, even they are rich and powerful, and they were able to make profound changes in their communities. In the US in 2007, 53,207 American children died (under age 20) … so there were about 100K parents who experienced the loss of a child. Sometimes, on one of my braver days, I ask myself, could we mobilize these parents who have lost a child to help out with child survival around the globe? If we went to them and said, we can lower child deaths 30% and malnutrition 38% for only 55 cents per capita (as we did in this project) … would they be willing to join us as passionate advocates for ending child deaths? I think the resources are there for ending preventable child deaths, but we need to keep our antennae up about where they are and not sell people short. Sometimes those who appear the weakest are the strongest …Blessed … are the meek.
One last updraft … here’s a short UNICEF video that I saw recently.[Play video.]
So UNICEF is being bold and proclaiming that they believe in zero – in a day when we will end all preventable child deaths. This is not a new idea. Many of you know that part of my passion comes from my faith, and the promise in the Bible in Isaiah 65:20 that “Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days…” [Click] FH did a study this past year in Bolivia to examine whether certain gender and spiritual beliefs were associated with having a well-nourished child. One of the findings that blew me away was that mothers who believed that “God wants all children to survive” were 15 times more likely to have a well-nourished child. In our Mozambique project, we promoted a variant of this – One day, no more children will die. So giving hope appears to be a child survival intervention. You can see how this could happen. If you really don’t think that there’s any grand plan for child deaths to end, we could give in to it and not struggle to end it, accepting it as just the way things are and the way things are meant to be. But it is NOT the way things are meant to be OR the way things WILL be. It’s changing, and it’s going to continue to change. So Believe in Zero and help others to believe. It’s going to happen.
It’s about making people who feel like
a nobody, feel like a somebody.
Updrafts – Sources of
Inspiration and Hope
FH Chief Program Officer
TOPS Senior Specialist for SBC
We stair steps:
It keeps getting better…
To how many of your friends who work outside of child survival can you say, “you
know – concerning your work – it just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?? ”
Crazy (but true) Science:
We are hardwired for the
“right kind of happy”
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (July 2013):
“… [study subjects] whose happiness … was primarily …based on
consuming things, had surprisingly unhealthy [gene expression]
profiles, with relatively high levels of biological markers known to
promote increased inflammation throughout the body … linked to the
development of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”
“The [study subjects] whose happiness was more …based on a sense of
higher purpose and service to others … had profiles that displayed
augmented levels of antibody-producing gene expression and lower
levels of the pro-inflammatory expression.”
Steven W. Cole (senior author): “Our genes can tell the difference”
between a purpose-driven life and a shallower one even when our
conscious minds cannot… [So don’t worry about selfish people and
Libertarians who want to destroy foreign aid – they will be cast out of
the gene pool. Wait them out.]
Article: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/23/what-our-genes-reveal-about-truehappiness/. Original Study: http://www.pnas.org/content/110/33/13684.full.pdf
Not Scratching the Surface?
Hours Dedicated to FH/Mozambique Care Group Project by Group
Sofala Province, Mozambique (Oct '05 - Sept '10)
FH/Moz Local Manag.
• Value of Volunteer time (@$2.95/8 hrs): $904,811
• In US in 2007, 53,207 children died (0-19y) … 100K parents … an untapped resource
for advocacy and action?? “We can lower child deaths 30% and malnutrition 38% at
55 cents per capita per year – do you want to do something about that?”
FH Bolivia study – Mothers who
believed that “God wants all
children to survive” were 15
times more likely to have a wellnourished child. Giving others
hope is a child survival