Monday, April 15, 2013

My personal Journey: Saving Lives - One Child at a Time

Becoming a champion and advocate for the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign was easy.  As a former nurse from a developing country I saw the needless suffering of children from diseases like pneumonia, measles, and diarrhea - all of which are illnesses that could have easily been prevented through the administration of vaccines.  With this background, coming to join UNF Shot@Life was like going back home for me.  I am on a personal journey and going back to my first love: Global Health, Vaccines for Developing Countries.  I believe in the power that vaccines have in saving children’s lives. 

 The training and support from Shot@Life helped to give me a voice and has made me a more powerful and more successful advocate for children.  I've gone from being an advocate for equal education for minority groups, a Multicultural Diversity PTA Community President and founder, a community leader to a global vaccine advocate.  Last fall I accompanied the United Nations Foundation and eight amazing ladies on a trip to Uganda.  I had traveled abroad but this was my first trip to Uganda, Africa.  While in Uganda, I observed Family, Child Health Days and routine immunization at health clinics in churches and mosques.  I met many mothers and in each one of them I saw love and devotion for their children. They worry.  They sacrifice. They walk many miles to make sure their children get their vaccines and needed help to be healthy.        
Baby Taqia and Nakyanzi
I'd like you to meet Nakyanzi Saidah and her beautiful little girl Taqia.  Nakyanzi is 20 years old.  She and her husband came to the Ebri Celebration and Family Health Day hosted by her mosque in Mubende.  She and her 18 month old daughter were dressed beautifully and ready to give baby Taqia her first vaccines.  She told me that she wanted her daughter to grow up healthy and go to school.  Nakyanzi has so many hopes and dreams for her daughter.
Talking with doctors and country representatives I learned that 386 children in Uganda under the age of five will die in one day and that 141,000 children under five are lost annually.  Uganda is one of 30 countries in the world with the highest number of deaths of children in that age group. In response to this UNICEF and Shot@Life are connecting mothers to health care, giving prenatal care 4 times a year, providing iron tablets, immunizations, nutrition education, maternal and neonatal care, and preventive care from HIV and AIDS.  They hope to decrease the mortality rate of the Ugandan people through such efforts.

Mothers all around the world have the same dreams and hopes for their children.  We want our children to be healthy and protected from harm, especially bodily harm. We want them to live to have many birthdays, to graduate from high school and to watch them become whatever they want to be.  
My beautiful daughters Xochitl and Citlali 
 I can’t imagine not having my children in my life. The pain these mothers go through when they lose their children is heart-wrenching and would be no less than my own sorrow in the same situation. Every 20 seconds a child dies in a developing country.  For only $20.00, a child can receive protection from measles, polio, pneumonia and diarrhea for life.

I know you share my passion for ending childhood diseases that are preventable with vaccines. You can invest in children like baby Taqia by joining me in making a stand for motherhood throughout the world by donating to provide more shots for a healthy childhood!  Please go to my fundraiser link below and donate. Together we can vaccinate 100 children by Mothers Day and give mothers like Nakyanzi the best Mothers Day present!
Shot@Life | Felisa Hilbert's Fundraiser on CrowdRise