The children of Triple P Primary School in Mukono, Uganda, sing and dance about safe motherhood. In time for International Youth Day on August 12, Save the Mothers program intern Jessica Huston blogs on the power of engaging young people in the issue of safe motherhood.
What is the role of youth in maternal health? Arguably, young people are the reason for it – safe motherhood equals a safer birth and better chances for a healthy start to life for newborns. Being underage is a risk factor in pregnancy, so we aim for “youth” and “motherhood” to not mix.
Save the Mothers’ graduate Virginia Plan, however, takes a proactive approach – spreading information about safe motherhood to and through children. As the owner and director of Triple P Primary school, located just a few minutes from the Save the Mothers offices in Mukono, Uganda, Virginia saw the need for safe motherhood information within her students’ lives. Using her background in education and her knowledge of maternal health, Virginia teaches the children in her school about the issues impacting mothers in their country. They have a Safe Motherhood club, which practices and performs songs and plays around maternal health issues. With performances to large and prominent audiences around Uganda, filmed performances, and two books published already, these schoolkids are making a difference in their communities.
Thanks to Virginia’s efforts, and those of her colleagues at Triple P, the next generation is learning that safe motherhood is a critical issue; all too often the Save the Mothers team speak to individuals throughout the country – in communities, in the ministry, in higher education – who still do not know the dangers faced by mothers every day. They do not know the statistics around the reality of mothers dying in East Africa, the risk factors, or the barriers pregnant girls and women face; more importantly, they do not recognize the role that they themselves can play in bettering maternal health.
Teaching children such things, not only helps the adults in their lives (as the children share their learning) but will continue to help the children themselves, and their peers, as they grow and have families of their own. Empowering children with knowledge – both age appropriate and accurate – continues to empower them after they’ve graduated from Triple P.
Teach the children to save the mothers. Save the mothers to teach our children. That’s the power of youth engagement.