Tag Archives: Edesia

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women

How I Grew A Human Published on Mamalode Today For The Nourish Theme Sponsored By ONE Girls & Women
Photo by Bob Packert

Photo by Bob Packert

These days I’m walking around with a tightness in my chest. The feeling that something is missing that stays with me all the time. A very slight deep underlying melancholy, and I hope every mother gets a chance to feel this way at some point.  It sounds cruel, I know, to wish this on others, but my post on Mamalode today explains why I do.

On my trip to Ethiopia this past summer to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project, and through the work I do with the local non-profit Edesia that nourishes children around the world, the theme of #Nourish struck a chord with me. Especially at this moment in time when my own baby was going off to school as a teenager for the first time. I realized that as mothers this is truly our ultimate goal, to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy and productive. At the same time this is the most difficult part of motherhood. The letting go.

I can not grow a garden, though lord knows I’ve tried, and each of my houseplants clings tenaciously to life each day, but somehow, someway it seems, I grew a human. And I am amazed.

nourish copy

Source: Mamalode

I am honored and  thrilled to be published on Mamalode today as part of the #nourish theme sponsored by the ONE Women & Girls campaign. My travels to Ethiopia mentioned in the post were with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship this past June.

Screening of Girl Rising With Maternova

Screening of Girl Rising With Maternova

As I watched my 10-year-old daughter practice cartwheels with her friends, I could not help but reflect on a girl the same age whose story I viewed in a film a couple of weeks ago. These carefree girls who whirl in front of me today are pure joy in motion.  They are all giggles and silliness, while arms and legs whip past.  The girl I reflect on was an 11-year-old pregnant child bride, and  pretty much the antithesis of the scene before me now.

Meg Wirth Founder of Maternova with Cable Car Cinema Owner Daniel Kamil.

Her stolen childhood was depicted to me in the Rhode Island premier of the groundbreaking documentary film Girl Rising.  Hosted at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence by Maternova. Girl Rising, was directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, and tells the story of 9 girls from around the world, girls living a very different reality than the one that I faced growing up, or that my daughters live today.  The girls in the film each take on the unique challenges of their lives, and are rising up despite those challenges, through determination and education.  It is the strength of their human spirit and will to move forward that gives the viewer hope for the girls of the world as well, and lets us envision better childhoods leading to successful lives for all girls worldwide in the future.   Each girl’s story was written by a known writer from her country and narrated by a well-known actress.  The stories were then woven in an innovative format that combines animation with documentary footage.  Statistics are threaded into each poignant narrative to help the viewer grasp where the girl child stands today, and what the possibilities are if we support her.

Girl Rising spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. Girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from a life in the garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who writes songs that help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian “pavement-dweller” whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter’s dreams. -10×10.org on Girl Rising

One of the exciting aspects for me of being part of the Shot@Life campaign with the  United Nations Foundation, is learning about all of the other amazing United Nations Foundation initiatives taking place as well.   I head heard about the film Girl Rising as a centerpiece of the UN Foundation Girl Up campaign in partnership with the film’s creators at 10×10, a global movement promoting the education of girls in the developing world.   When I looked into a local screening I was thrilled to learn not only that Maternova was located right here in Rhode Island, but that they were hosting the Rhode Island premiere of Girl Rising at the Cable Car Cinema. Maternova is an amazing  mission-driven company committed to saving the lives of mothers and infants by providing healthcare innovations directly to frontline workers where they are most needed.  Maternova concurrently incubates new products in their field, and has established a non-profit to assist in their mission of promoting maternal and infant health in developing nations. The attendance roster in the theatre that night really highlights the innovative global humanitarian hub that Rhode Island is becoming.   With leaders in solutions to poverty, maternal health, and hunger  from Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, Solar Sister, and our hosts from Maternova, these women are change agents who are coming up with solutions to some of the worlds most vexing problems, and I was honored to be in their company.  As a woman, as a mother, or as a global citizen with an interest in the future of our world, you will want to see Girl Rising.  The film is sure to deepen understanding of the challenges our girls face, and lead us toward solutions.  The Cable Car Cinema has one more screening of Girl Rising scheduled on the evening of April 1st, and Girl Rising will be broadcast by CNN Films this summer.  View the Film Trailer below and read 13 facts you should know about Girls and Education from 10×10 here.

Inspiring Women: Navyn Salem

Inspiring Women: Navyn Salem


Excerpt from A life Changing Visit To Niger on The Plumpy’Blog


Navyn in the Plumpy’nut training room where the moms are educated about how and why this product is used.

As I stood in the malnutrition ward of a regional hospital, my chest tightened, and I had to work hard to keep my composure. There were no welcoming smiles, only blank, empty stares. My camera, normally always at the ready, dropped down to my side. I couldn’t bring myself to snap images of so many children and mothers in despair. To my left, a little girl lay on a bed, emaciated, listless, and very alone. I didn’t know her story. “Where is her mother?” I asked myself. All I could do was watch her chest rise and fall – as I did with my own newborn girls – and I clung to the possibility that, in this place, because of the nutritional peanut-paste we make, her life would continue.”   -Navyn Salem, Executive Director, Edesia Global Nutriton Solutions

Navyn Salem was shocked when she first heard the drastic statistics on global child malnutrition, and she was amazed that she had not heard about it sooner.  As a mother herself she could not imagine a parent having to lose a child to something as easy to resolve as malnutrition, so the former stay-at-home mother of four, took it upon herself to do something about it.  With over 23 million children suffering from malnutrition in some form, and the cause of about one third of all child deaths globally, she realized there was not enough attention on the issue, and yet it seemed the simplest to tackle.  Her father was born in Tanzania,  and as an area that she had a connection to, she knew that she wanted to give back to that part of the world.    Five years ago the seeds for Edesia were planted. She began by speaking with experts, with a goal to increase access to products already out there, by expanding research and studying best practices until she developed a plan.

Photo By Navyn Salem: A first taste of Plumpy’nut is required before leaving the clinic.

Navyn worked with Nutriset, a French company already producing ready to use therapuetic and supplementary food products.  These products were revolutionary because unlike previous supplements available to treat malnutrition, they did not need clean water or refrigeration, two things scarce in much of the developing world.   Edesia began by opening it’s first plants in Africa, where it created jobs for production workers, helped local farmers and by producing the products locally, cutting shipment costs and lead time to access to the life saving nutritional aid when needed in the area. These plants are part of the Plumpyfield Network which is comprised of fourteen partners, twelve of which are located in developing countries.  The network strives to create nutritional autonomy in countries where malnutrition is prevalent. Plants in the Plumpyfield Network have continued to be opened  in the areas of the world that need them most such as Niger, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Haiti, and The Democratic Republic of Congo, putting to use local human resources and raw materials. Most of these production facilities are being run by women, which is striking in areas of the world where women would not traditionally have the opportunity for such a leadership role.

Photo By Navyn Salem: Using the muac tape. This child is severely malnourished as you can see the red.


The products are peanut based and filled with nutrients, unlike here in North America, peanut allergies are not an issue in these populations. Plumpy Nut, the Edesia product used to treat the most severe cases of malnutrition can bring a child from the brink of starvation back to health in just four to six weeks of use. Three years ago Edesia opened a production plant in Navyn’s home state of Rhode Island, it was the height of the recession and provided much needed jobs to the area.    West and East Africa have the greatest need for the products produced by Edesia, and with drought becoming more frequent, and weather patterns becoming more severe, the need to put early warning systems in place and invest in agricultural development in these areas is critical to success. Despite what may seem an a bleak issue to some, Navyn remains optimistic.

Photo By Navyn Salem: Women sorting Peanuts by hand for use in the Plumpy’nut products.

She told me that she sees the potential within a couple of decades of investment in African agriculture and infrastructure as beneficial to the rest of the world. Africa is a large continent with untapped agricultural resources poised to become a net exporter of food that will benefit populations globally.  Meanwhile better planning and strategies such as early warning systems and pre-positioning of supplies  in advance are critical in getting help in time to those who need it most.  She says that although sometimes it seems insurmountable, when she sees what a better solution Plumpy Nut has provided than previously available it gives her hope.  The solution exists, she believes and increasing awareness is just one step in the right direction.  In the meantime until we figure out better solutions to agricultural issues Navyn says that when she sees just one child’s life saved by these products, she knows that is one family who has been spared the grief of losing that child and it is all worth it.





The Butterfly Effect: My Guest Post on ONE.org!

The Butterfly Effect: My Guest Post on ONE.org!

I am so excited, and honored to be posted as a Guest Blogger on ONE.org!    Click here to READ MY POST ON ONE.ORG.

The butterfly effect: The story of two humanitarian stay-at-home moms

 (‘we’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice.’   Click HERE to become a member of ONE.org, and add your voice.)

Photo by Elizabeth Atalay

ONE.org is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, by raising public awareness and pressuring political leaders to support smart and effective policies and programs that are saving lives, helping to put kids in school and improving futures. Cofounded by Bono and other campaigners, ONE is nonpartisan and works closely with African activists and policy makers. Backed by a movement of more than 2.5 million ONE members, ONE achieves change through advocacy. We hold world leaders to account for the commitments they’ve made to fight extreme poverty, and we campaign for better development policies, more effective aid and trade reform. We also support greater democracy, accountability and transparency to ensure policies to beat poverty are implemented effectively. ONE is not a grant-making organization and we do not solicit funding from the general public. As we have always said, at ONE, ‘we’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice.’   Click HERE to become a member of ONE.org, and add your voice.

What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up?!

What Am I Going To Be When I Grow Up?!

My friend Allison gave me an incredible opportunity last year. She invited me, along with a group of friends, to contribute to her blog www.amomknowsbest.com.   As a successful newscaster Allison Alexander came with legions of followers. She was tolerant, and helpful with my steep technological learning curve.  For a mom who had been out of the work force for over a decade, it was a perfect way to catch up on new  advances in technology, and social media, and to hone latent writing skills.  I am still learning, and technology seems to be evolving as quickly as I can begin to grasp each new tool.  It occurred to me that it is not entirely unlike Motherhood, I’m just now catching on that as a mother your identity has to shift every few years.  You are not just a mother, you are a mother of a newborn, or a mother of toddlers, a mother of school kids, a mother of teenagers…and so on and so on!   The technology keeps changing just as I learn it!  I can see that I’ll need to evolve with the kids various stages.   Maybe I’ll be prepared by the time I hit the High school, college and empty nest stages……(o.k, bringing that up puts me in a full fledged panic, but I digress).    I’ve been eagerly anticipating my current stage of motherhood, finally getting all my kids in school for a full day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love m children from the depths of my heart, but come on ladies, if you have small kids at home, you are flat out lying if you tell me you haven’t fantasized about this moment too.  So now I have time to ponder the yawning question of    “What do I want to be when I grow up!?!   I know, as a married mother of four in her mid-forties, I kind of am grown up.  I also know that I am not the only one out there with an inner 21 year old, who looks around baffled some days thinking  ”and who thought it was a good idea to give all of this responsibility to me exactly?!”.  Despite that delusional youthful inner being, I do seem to find myself with all evidence pointing to truly, and actually being an adult!  I suppose the lines that have taken up permanent residence on my face are Nature’s gentle reminder of such.

So here I am, a mature woman, almost thirteen years out of the work force, with finally some time to start thinking about what I’d like to be, along with wife and mother.   I allowed myself to savor the first half of the year, and see what it really felt like to have time to myself again.  I found the need to relearn time management in the paradigm of my new schedule, so that I could efficiently balance time for myself with accomplishing the day’s practical tasks.    Entering the second half of the school year, I now feel it is time to start figuring out what I am able do for a job.  There are a few parameters.   Namely the aforementioned kids who need shuttling around in the afternoons, and said husband with primary career of varied schedule. Whatever it is I do, has to take place between the hours of 8:30am and 2:00pm.   That pretty much rules out my previous work in Film Production and renders my Masters degree in Ethnographic filmmaking as obsolete. (a documentary on the anthropology of childrearing in the suburbs, I’m sure would fascinate the masses) So of course I’ve been reading a lot of Oprah and More magazine lately, and taking those quizzes to “find my passion”.    (Off the bat, I’d just say, my husband, eating and drinking, travel, reading, skiing, movies…..)But I don’t think that’s what they mean.  These magazines are full of women who turn their passion into fulfilling moneymaking careers!  They are so inspirational, and yet that whatever it is going to be for me thing seems just beyond my cognitive grasp.  Some of the tips the articles I’ve read advise things like; Figure out what you love to do.  Think of something you loved to do as a kid.  Look around your house and write down the things that point to a certain passion, such as books, art,travel, or antique collection. Once you figure out what you would love to be doing, research ways to make money on it.  My Google search for “how to make money shopping” turned up at least seven legitimate ideas for how to do so.  Other tactics include writing lists of the things you are good at, the things you would do if you were sure not to fail, and all the things that make you happy.   Now cross reference your lists to formulate a plan.  The things I tore out of magazines (this is a great method for formulating your decorating style as well) were all articles on socialpreneurs (I use this to describe  socially conscious entrepreneurs, not social media entrepreneurs who also claim that title)  such as Lauren Lauren and her FEED bags, Tom’s shoes, and Alex & Ani Charity by Design bracelets.  My role models were real life moms who have found careers where they are making a difference globally, such as Navyn Salem and her Edesia factory that provides global nutritional solutions.  I realized whatever it is I end up doing; I would like it to have a positive impact, not just a financial reward.  I decided for my first step, to create this blog to explore my passions for travel, food, family, and global issues in one place.  This is clearly a process, and work in progress, and as a Mom, I have a feeling that just when I get this part all figured out….it will be just in time for another Maternal identity shift!