This holiday season, I look back at the past year with deep gratitude. I have made it seven months as a first time parent to a smiley, fun-loving and curious daughter who keeps me on my toes. The startup I lead has grown significantly, overcome challenges and provided medical treatments for over 1000 women and children in need. I have been exceptionally fortunate to have a supportive family, team and friends who enable me to simultaneously pursue startup life and motherhood.
If I rewind to April of this year, just before my daughter was born, I remember a tense time. I was full of fear. Fear of what could happen in the delivery room, the known and unknown. I had taken birthing classes to educate and prepare myself, and avoided reading books that highlighted all the things that could go wrong. It wasn't just an act of self-preservation, it was knowing the sad reality that thousands of pregnant women face daily.
Every day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 99 percent of all these maternal deaths occur in poor communities due to the inability to access or afford even the most basic medical care. Many suffer from debilitating birth injuries, which, left untreated, can leave women childless and incontinent, unable to work and shunned by their communities.
Fortunately, there are local doctors willing to perform medical treatments and provide access to care to these patients, but they need funding for patient outreach, transportation, sterile equipment and supplies. I co-founded Samahope to prove that the power of the crowd could do more than just fund a cool gadget or, say, potato salad. We crowdfund for local doctors in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America so they can perform life-saving medical treatments for women and children living in poverty. These treatments include safe births for women who otherwise would have to experience childbirth without any access to medical care.
One of those women is Tiangay. Tiangay is now 17-years-old and comes from a small, rural village in Sierra Leone, Africa. At 12-years-old, Tiangay was raped by her English teacher and became pregnant. After being in labor for five days in her hut without a skilled birth attendant, pain medication or sterilization, Tiangay suffered from a birth injury, called fistula, that left her incontinent and unable to go to school. Tiangay suffered for four years before she learned that a doctor could in fact treat her with surgery, restoring her life and potential.
I cannot imagine how Tiangay felt; the physical pain and mental anguish she must have experienced. Even with access to highly capable doctors and state-of-the art medical facilities, I was still fearful something could go wrong.
This holiday season we have the chance to help women like Tiangay get access to critical treatments. Today is #GivingTuesday, a day that encourages us all to use our collective power to give back. Our Samahope community is giving back with Hope Cards customizable holiday cards that help fund medical treatments for women and children in need. You create a card, make a donation and everyone on your list receives a personalized greeting that makes them feel extra special.
All of the proceeds go to fund the doctors on our site like Dr. Darius Maggi who, with Samahope funds, was able to purchase sterile gloves and tools used to treat Tiangay. Hope Cards give each of us the ability to send a holiday greeting from the comfort of our couch and literally save lives at the same time.
What are you thankful for and how can you show it this holiday season?