THE BLOG
05/24/2013 01:03 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2013

Inspired to Make a Difference in Maternal Health

As a registered nurse, I love to connect with my patients on a human level, positively impact their health, and empower them through education. It is rewarding to interact with patients and see their physical and mental health improve. But I've always wondered if there was more I could do beyond the walls of a hospital.

Then a friend suggested I read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide. I pored through the book and within a few days, I felt like my questions had been answered. Reading about the stories of Urmi Basu, Edna Adan, and Somaly Mam showed me that anyone can be an "agent of change." We can make a difference in one person's life or in a whole community. We can address an issue, raise awareness, or even provide a solution. These powerful stories of women from across the globe shed light on my own life and I began to ask myself, "How can I be an agent of change?"

One issue in Half the Sky that resonated with me was the inadequacy in maternal health and maternal mortality rates internationally. What Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn pointed out was unbelievable: While child mortality rates have plunged and longevity increased, maternal mortality rates in 2005 have barely budged with one maternal death every minute. Lifetime risk of maternal mortality in poor countries like Sierra Leone and India is one thousand times greater than countries in the West!

Working in a hospital that treats all patients despite their ability to pay made it very difficult to stomach the struggle that pregnant women face when accessing health services in poor countries. Determined to get involved, I reached out to One Nurse At A Time, a non-profit that encourages and empowers nurses to volunteer abroad. They connected me with five other women who have the same craving to use our skills as nurses to give back to patients in need and raise awareness about health disparities.

Under the umbrella of One Nurse At A Time, us five nurses joined forces and used our inspiration from Half the Sky to form Nurses for Edna. Together, our group will travel to Edna Adan's Maternity Hospital in Hargeisa to team up with Edna and her local staff to serve the women of Somaliland. Edna has stated that teaching is the greatest need, so Nurses for Edna will share nursing knowledge, theory and skills with the local staff and nursing students. We have been asked during our first trip to provide a course in Basic First Aid and General Physical Assessment to the nursing school. We will also supervise student nurses working on the hospital floors.

Our vision for Nurses for Edna is to create a pathway for other nurses to get involved and become "agents of change." We aim to raise awareness of Edna Adan's hospital and the life-saving work her hospital provides. The time is ripe for a new liberation movement to empower women worldwide. Inspired by Half the Sky's agenda, Nurses for Edna is joining the movement and hopes to prove that we can make a different whether big or small.

Please follow us on this journey as Nurses for Edna travels to Somaliland! We encourage you to get involved. For more information on how you can help, please see our Nurses for Edna page.

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