Students all across the country are going back to school, but one group at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, already has a special project underway; one they hope will make a big difference for women and girls in East Africa.

The first ever university chapter of Save the Mothers was started in the spring of 2021. Its founder, Ainsley Johnstone, is a 3rd year health sciences student who is passionate about maternal health and aspires to become an OB/GYN who works in rural or developing areas.

Johnstone heard about the work of Save the Mothers, based in Uganda, and was intrigued by its unique approach to helping local leaders create systemic change through a Master of Public Health Leadership program. Many of these professionals come from areas where maternal mortality rates are especially high and they are using their voices and influence to advocate for vulnerable women.

“I am a strong believer in the sustainable approach that Save the Mothers takes. People often ask me why I started this chapter, and that is because I want to ensure sustainability is reflected in my own approach,” Johnstone said. “This chapter can continue to exist for many years as new students take on new roles within it, ensuring that Save the Mothers has a constant stream of support.”

The Queen’s chapter has 15 executive members who are committed to raising awareness about maternal health and what Save the Mothers is doing to reduce deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth complications, 99 percent of which occur in the developing world. They will be hosting a series of events, workshops and fun fundraising initiatives and are still looking for more volunteers.

“It’s inspiring to see what they’re doing,” said Save the Mothers’ managing director, Janet Sampson.  “I can’t wait to support their efforts and see what the next generation of students in our own backyard can do to empower students in East Africa.”

To stay up to date follow the chapter’s activities on Facebook or Instagram.