Sunday, August 24, 2014

No Parents Left Behind: #Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near...

No Parents Left Behind: #Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near...: I am a passionate advocate and Champion for Shot@life, a campaign to protect children worldwide by providing live-saving vaccines to childr...

#Blogust: A Marathon to Save Children’s Lives Near and Far!

I am a passionate advocate and Champion for Shot@life, a campaign to protect children worldwide by providing live-saving vaccines to children in developing countries. Also I am a mother, an educator and a former nurse who worked in a developing country (Mexico).  There I saw many illnesses, pain and sadness in the eyes of many mothers.  At times there was nothing the doctors could do to save their children from diseases that could have been easily prevented. 

Every summer I volunteer wherever I can to serve communities in need.  This year I visited and taught in some rural-remote communities in the heart of the Sierra Madre of Mexico.  Here I had the opportunity of working in the states of Veracruz, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and others for almost 4 weeks with underserved children and families in Mexico. 
 Osvaldo &Cristina our interpreters from Spanish-to-Nahuatl 
My first climb, after an initial briefing with leaders from World Vision Mexico, was to the community of Mixtla in the state of Veracruz, Mexico.
After a long walk we arrived at the top of Zongolica Mountain!  Our guide said that we were 5600 meters (18,2000 feet) above sea level.  I realized that after driving from Orizaba (big city) to Zongolica (40 kilometers), and from Zongolica to the center of the community of Mixtla  (14.7 kilometers), and from there to Mixtla to Altamirano we walked another 5.3 kilometers -  total of 60 kilometers… 96.6 miles just to get there!  But what an amazing view!!  Although my heart was racing and my ears were popping, my excitement was compensating my difficulties in breathing.
Talking to mothers of Mixtla de Altamirano







From the top of the mountains we descended 1600 meters to reach the community of Mixtla de Altamirano.  There we found 40 families living in poverty and lacking the basic human services and supplies needed to survive.  Here they spoke mostly Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.  
The one school room  that serves 7 communities
Parents were proud to show us their one room school.  This is the only school around these mountains where children from 7 other communities attend classes.  Some of these students have to wake up before daylight without eating breakfast and walk 2-3 hours every day to learn.  The classroom was almost empty with few chairs and not funishings!  One teacher comes and teaches 1st through 6th grades in the same room with no comfortable place to sleep, eat or a toilet to use.  The teacher also has to be bilingual because the students speak Nahuatl.
The little  clinic in Cruztitla, mpio. of Zongolica
The closest health center to serve the community is in Cruztitla, less than 2 miles away – after descending about 1600 feet down the mountain on foot, without a road to follow.  This little one-room clinic measures only about 30 by 20 feet and also serves the other communities of Capultitla, Cruztitla, Tlachicuapa and Tetziquila.  Doctors can only come to serve once or twice at week, but they don’t have a place to stay overnight.
  With mothers in Tehuipango, Veracruz
  Once again you could see that Motherhood is Universal!  No interpreter was needed in our communications!  I understood the mothers when they said that diarrhea, fever, measles, prenatal care, anemia and headaches were some of their worries for their children’s health.  We delivered 200 tylenol bottles and some school supplies to these families.

The first day of school in La Paloma, Hidalgo
Later in the state of Hidalgo, I enjoyed the day working with the amazing team of Brigade 10  and visiting with children and parents of the community ”La Paloma”.  It was a profound delight to be able to share with them the importance of basic Health, vaccinations and education as a means to eradicate poverty in order to give their children opportunities to develop, create and grow.  Above is a ‘shot’ of the first day of School with all these children.   I was able to donate some school supplies to over 100 moms and their children in the community of the la Paloma, Hidalgo.
Here is to a Shot to the          first day of school !     At times like these, I can’t help but look back with such feelings of warmth on the days I spent in Uganda.  ­­­The Mexican Parents and children are very similar to the Ugandan parents and their children.  Their courage and resilience and the children’s smiles and gratitude taught me greatly of the human will to triumph - and the power of kindness. 

 Jen Burden and I during a UNICEF Health Day in Uganda

During Shot@Life Blogust 2014 - a month-long blog relay - some online writers, bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about happy and healthy firsts. Every time you comment on this post or share it via social media, Walgreens will donate one vaccination (up to 60,000) for the campaign.  Blogust is part of an overall commitment by Walgreens to donate up to I million vaccinations through its “Get a Shot.  Give a Shot” project.  I have been supporting, advocating and championing the United Nations Foundation Shot@life vaccination campaign because I believe in their mission and goals and have firsthand experience that vaccines save lives.  So please join me and help protect, save, and give children around the globe a shot at life by providing the needed vaccines for them.  






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Diseases can become a national issue , not just for other countries, but for the US as well

Did you know that April 24th -30th is World Immunization Week?  During this week, organizations around the world raise their voices to educate, promote, and increase the rates of immunization against vaccine preventable diseases.
As a former nurse from a developing country I still remember walking into small rural towns and seeing children with distended abdomens; suffering from measles, diarrhea, and other childhood diseases.  I witnessed firsthand the pain and sorrow of many mothers when their children were suffering.  I remember their stoic faces as they held back tears while holding their dead child in their arms. I witnessed how diarrhea took the lives of so many little children because mothers did not realize their children could die from it, and saw a two-year-old child with measles in excruciating pain.   The sad part is that all these childhood diseases could have been prevented with a simple vaccine.

 Vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles, diarrhea and pneumonia are real and kill many children every year.  A simple vaccine can make the difference between life and death for these children in developing countries and prevention is a relatively low cost.   For instance, for less than $1 US dollar, a child can be safely and effectively vaccinated against measles.  $20.00 will vaccinate a child for life against polio, measles, pneumonia and diarrhea.  In contrast, treatment costs for a child who falls ill from one of those diseases can reach upwards of $100.
In developing countries, many mothers never see their children live to have their 5th birthday . Instead of celebrating a birthday, they have to prepare for their child’s burial. 
Here are the facts:
  • Vaccine preventable diseases claim the lives of 1.5 million children every year – one child every 20 seconds, accounting for nearly one quarter of all childhood deaths.

  • Measles, one of the most contagious and infectious diseases, kills an estimated 450 people each day – the majority of whom are young children.

  •  Polio, a disease that once paralyzed more the 1,000 children a day, has dropped 99% in the last 20 years due to vaccination campaigns, leaving the world nearly polio free. However, until fully eradicated, polio anywhere is threat to children everywhere. 
  • By contrast, immunization prevents more than 2.5 million deaths every year in the past two decades.
  • Two of the most common causes of child death-pneumonia and diarrhea- can be  prevented by existing vaccines.
  •  By scaling-up the delivery of vaccines in 72 of the world's poorest countries from 2011-2020, we can save $151 billion through reduced treatment costs and gains in productivity.
I know these children and mothers in developing countries seem a world far away from our own, but they are no different than us and the children in our own lives and community.  Children everywhere deserve a shot to a healthy life, no matter where they were born or live.
I witnessed the present day need for childhood immunization first hand while on a trip to Uganda with Shot@Life during the fall of 2012. We visited the Ugandan districts of Mumbende and Fort Portal and saw work being done by UNICEF through their “Family Health Days” initiative after church and mosque services.  During these “Family Health Days,” families received free deworming tablets, vitamins, measles and polio vaccines for their children, and HIV and high blood pressure testing for adults.  Mothers with their children lined up and waited patiently to receive needed medical care.
It’s also important to realize that these diseases can become a local issue and a national issue, not just for other countries, but for the US as well.  We are living in a global society; we travel around the world on mission trips, business trips, and family vacations.  We have people coming to our country every day from other countries.   It only takes one person to come in contact with you or you visiting another country to spread disease.  Here in the United States, 129[BB1]  cases of measles have been already been reported in 2014. Usually only about 60 cases in the United States are reported every year. Vaccinations are not just a global issue, vaccinations are a national issue! We part of the human race and we have responsibility for the less fortunate. Policymakers, both here and in Washington, should stand up and support US led global health programs, specifically programs focused on saving the lives of children in developing countries by providing them with vaccines. Together, you, I and our members of Congress can work together to save the life of a child every 20 seconds.
You can make a difference this week by pledging your support for global health, educating yourself or donating at www.shotatlife.org.
Shot@Life, a national movement to educate, connect, and empower Americans to champion for vaccines, is strengthening the call to action for this global cause. Together, we can help save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. For children in developing countries, a vaccine gives the chance at many life “firsts”—first smiles, first birthdays, first steps and more.  [BB1]http://www.cdc.gov/features/measles/#adv2vax #vaccineswork +ShotAtLife 


Monday, April 7, 2014

No Parents Left Behind: Giving a Shot@life to More Proms and High School G...

No Parents Left Behind: Giving a Shot@life to More Proms and High School G...: Motherhood is Universal and as mothers we prepare to receive our children with love and and excitement.  We see their little faces, smile a...

Giving a Shot@life to More Proms and High School Graduations

Motherhood is Universal and as mothers we prepare to receive our children with love and and excitement.  We see their little faces, smile and dream of their future.  We anticipate and enjoy every milestone in our children’s lives.  It all starts with their first smile, then their first word, a first step (of many), their 1st day of school, birthdays,  holidays … proms and graduation. 

Our younger daughter Xochitl will graduate this year from High school.  As her mother I have been privileged to see each step she has taken to become the beautiful young lady that she is now.  Next week is prom time and I am excited to be part of this special day for her!  We’ve been looking at dresses, choosing the right one, shoes to match and accessories.  This can be one of the most rewarding experiences a mother can enjoy!  I love seeing dresses with my girl and listening about matching colors and corsages.  Most of all I am very grateful to see her and her siblings healthy and alive to enjoy these milestones in their lives.
Do you know that in developing countries many mothers never see their children live to have their 5th birthday?  Many mothers lose their children to childhood diseases like polio, pneumonia, measles and diarrhea before they reach the age of five.  These mothers never see their children enjoy their first day of school or reach other important milestones in life.  Unlike me, they will not see them go to a prom.  They accept that their children will die too young to celebrate many birthdays; shopping for a prom dress or tuxedo… instead they have to prepare their children for burial.  I have seen their stoic faces as they hold back their tears while holding a dead child in their arms.  The pain these mothers go through when they lose a child is heart-wrenching and would be no less than my own sorrow in the same situation.  Mothers and children in developing countries seem a world far away from our own, but they are no different than us and the children in our own lives.
I know many of you share my love for children and my passion for ending preventable childhood diseases.  Beyond knowing that vaccines are needed, many just don’t know what to do.  During the month of April I am participating in a Shot@Life campaign called Advocate2Vaccinate a coast- -to-coast challenge for global vaccination. 
Here are some ways you can help and support our cause for saving young lives:
1.    Hold in-district meetings with your senators and representatives;
2.    Send a letter to your area newspaper editors,
3.    Call the US Congress using the Shot@Life app for your phone;
4.    Make an online pledge at the Shot@Life website;
5.    Host a digital or community event;
6.    Write a post about vaccines on your social media;
7.    Tweet this: “Take action! Join @ShotatLife's Advocate2Vaccinate, a coast-to-coast challenge for global vax”;   http://ctt.ec/Uf0Ol+ #adv2vax
8.    Make a donation to the cause here:
9.    Read this post, share it with your friends and post comments to keep the conversation going;
10.  Ask me how you can become a Shot@Life champion.

Our congressional representatives need to know that this global issue can become a national issue that can affect our entire country, because we are part of a global society.  Worldwide travel and contact with many people from all over can easily bring this issue home.  We need to call to their attention that Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria still have polio in their countries and that now there have been recent outbreaks of polio in the Horn of Africa, Syria and Cameron.  Also, there was a recent outbreak of measles in Orange County, California and we a total of 116 cases here in United States.
http://pediatrics.about.com/od/measles/a/measles-outbreaks.htm

It is critical that we use our voices to tell congress that:
·       Around the world a child dies every 20 seconds from a preventable disease by a vaccine.


·       In developing countries the number of children dying every year from preventable diseases is nearly equivalent to half the children entering kindergarten in the US.