Tag Archives: Flight For Every Mother

Christy Turlington Burns Is My Girl Crush

Christy Turlington Burns Is My Girl Crush

Christy Turlington Burns is my girl crush because today she ran the New York City Marathon for mothers everywhere.

Christy Turlington BurnsIt’s not just because I grew up flipping through the pages she graced in fashion magazines.  Not just because she married Ed Burns, who is the totally hot and  amazingly talented Director & Actor. Or that she perfected her yoga practice, along the way producing a line of conscientiously made yoga gear. It is because she then went on to champion for mothers around the world with Every Mother Counts. After her own frightening experience during childbirth Christy became aware that her scenario could have been fatal, as it is for many women globally without access to the quality healthcare she had been provided. Every year hundreds of thousands of women die during or due to childbirth, mostly from preventable causes.

I have a girl crush on Christy because today she and her Every Mother Counts Team #RunEMC ran in the New York City Marathon to raise money for maternal health with the tag line, “we are running so other mothers don’t have to”.   And I think that is AMAZING. Recently I ran the FEED 10k and barely made it across the finish line, I can’t imagine the strength and dedication it takes to run a marathon!

This photo posted on Facebook the other day stopped me in my tracks.

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It made me think, this is why I do what I do, and I want to do more.  It made me think about the organizations I know who posted this photo, Maternova and Flight For Every Mother, of  Clean Birth Kits, and of Every Mother Counts, and Christy running the marathon. All for the sake of preventing a mother from losing her life while giving birth to another.

Why do we run?  Every Mother Counts participates in the NYC Marathon annually and other running events throughout the year to raise awareness about the impact distance and lack of transportation have on maternal mortality.  Whether it’s a 5K, 10K, half or full marathon these familiar racing mile-markers represent common distances pregnant and laboring women must travel in many parts of the world to reach basic and emergency healthcare services. Most of the time, they travel these distances on foot.  When roads are un-passable, transportation is unavailable and distances are too far, countless women go without prenatal care or skilled assistance at birth and far too often, the results are dangerous and tragic. Distance is the leading contributor that kills almost 300,000 women per year from pregnancy and childbirth-related conditions.-EMC Website

Here is the exciting thing, even though we didn’t run the marathon today, (I actually just got out of my pajamas), this month by downloading and using my favorite App, Charity Miles we can all participate in team Every Mother Counts. Charity Miles donates 25 cents for every mile we run or walk, so if we each do just one mile a day or a collective 26.2 miles by the end of the month, you will have generated enough funding to provide transportation for a mother in labor or in trouble to the hospital in Uganda. That or you can join the team and/or donate to the Every Mother Counts CrowdRise Page.


Congratulations to the Every Mother Counts Team for running the NYC Marathon while inspiring and helping mothers around the world. I’ll be running my #CharityMiles with you this month.

Last Chance To Nominate A Health Worker For The Real Awards; Who Would You Nominate?

Last Chance To Nominate A Health Worker For The Real Awards; Who Would You Nominate?

The REAL Awards is a first-of-its-kind, global awards platform designed to develop greater respect and appreciation for the lifesaving care that health workers provide in the U.S. and around the world. Through this effort, we aim to increase awareness and understanding of the universal and urgent need for more trained and supported health workers every where.’- Save The Children

 Flight for Every mother poster copy

I nominated Dr. Sophia Webster whom I recently interviewed for this blog, for taking her medical knowledge and ability to reach remote communities as a pilot and setting out to raise awareness for maternal health, share her expertise with other community health-care workers and deliver life saving supplies in the areas that need it most.

Is there a Heath-Care worker who you would like to nominate for this award? Today is your last chance!  Starting September 23, 2013 the American public was asked to visit www.theREALawards.com to nominate and vote for inspiring U.S.-based and global health workers making a difference in their communities and beyond. The nomination period will be followed bya
public, online voting period for the US nominees and in January 2014, all REAL Awards honorees will be announced. REAL Awards trophy presentations will take place in April 2014.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.

Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.

Sophia Webster On Her Flight For Every Mother

Sophia Webster On Her Flight For Every Mother


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Dr. Sophia Webster

“Writing this in the aeroplane above Côte d’Ivoire and will send when I reach the ground ( Ross has taken over the controls temporarily!!) “- Dr. Sophia Webster

Maternal mortality in many countries in Africa is  unacceptably high. Especially since almost all of these deaths occur in low-resource settings, and most of them could have  been prevented.  As an OB/GYN working in England  Dr. Sophia Webster was appalled by the statistics and lack of access to medical care that many of the communities suffering high maternal mortality rates had. So she decided to do something about it. She determined to fly to 26 countries in Africa to raise awareness about Maternal Health issues, and to deliver medical supplies, and healthcare worker training. When I learned about her plan I felt a thrill. She instantly became my hero, my Amelia Earhart,  her undertaking is something I would dream of doing, and since I’m neither a physician nor pilot, it only ever could be a dream for me.  Sophia Webster on the other hand, being both a Dr. and a pilot, is uniquely positioned to make a real direct impact in these communities. As romantic as my notions of flying across Africa are, my experiences during my overland travel for six months across the continent years ago enlightened me to some of the stark realities Dr. Sophia Webster would be sure to face along the way. ffem copy

My father on the other hand was a physician and a small plane pilot who served as a Flight Surgeon in the Army before I was born. We did not fly often, but I can remember the thrill when as a child my dad let me take  the controls in my hands. It turns out that when you tilt the controls up, it tips the nose of the plane down, so my stint as a pilot was very short-lived and a bit dramatic, but the romance of small planes stayed with me. Intrigue with Flight and travel, was further infused through the books my father had read as an armchair traveler. He never did visit the places he read about, but when I grew up I did, and I knew where the seed for my wanderlust had been planted.

Soaring above Cote d’Ivoire Sophia graciously took time away from saving lives, teaching, flying her plane, and fixing it several times along the way to answer the interview questions that I had sent to her.

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When did you learn to fly?

SW: I started in sept 2009 in Carlisle, UK, when I was posted to a district general hospital in the Lake District. I completed about half of my basic training there, and then transferred to Newcastle when my hospital appointment changed.

At what point did you come up with your idea for this trip, and how long did it take you from concept to reality?

SW: In March 2012 whilst I was hiking with my best friend in California. I guess I’m an ideas person, and had been considering at the back of my mind how to do something unusual that linked all of my skills together for a cause about which I passionately believe.

Had you been to Africa before?

SW: Yes, many times. My first trip to Africa was to Egypt as a medical student in 2001. My first trip to sub-Sahara was to The Gambia in 2006 as a doctor to help a nursing colleague of mine open a village health clinic. In 2007, between my junior and senior Obstetric and Gynecology training, I worked in Cape Town, South Africa to gain practical experience and that was when I first began to appreciate how risky it can be to be pregnant. Since I have been back in the UK I have been part of a clinical teaching faculty and have travelled to many other African countries to teach emergency Obstetric and life saving skills to front line health workers including midwives and doctors.

What has surprised you most along the way?

SW: On the aviation front – the vast difference in airport charges between neighbouring countries and just how difficult some airports are to negotiate as a private pilot. On the medical front – just how enthusiastic the public have been in talking about women’s reproductive health, as demonstrated by the questions and responses to my breakfast radio interview via the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation!

What are you missing having access to from home?

SW: Washing my hair regularly!

What is the greatest urgent need you have come across along the way?

SW: Most hospitals we have visited have not had enough beds for the number of patients needing to be admitted, with 2 patients sharing and sometimes even three.

Maternity Ward

Maternity Ward

Which of the following would you say the majority of problems stem from poor maternal health, poor neonatal health, poor sanitation, lack of equipment or lack of expertise in health workers?

SW: Maternal health – there are so many factors at play. There are usually insufficient front line health workers and equipment deficiencies. Skills training is often infrequent leading to inappropriate and/or slow actions in the case of an emergency.

Neonatal health can reflect baseline maternal health. Monitoring of the fetal heartbeat in labour can be suboptimal because of lack of equipment, too few midwives to perform the auscultation and lack of knowledge about how often it should be done and what is normal/abnormal. Resuscitation of a newborn baby that is not breathing well is another key skill which can be forgotten. Hospitals in sub-Sahara are often unable to look after very premature babies because of resource issues.

Have you met any negative response to what you are trying to do?

SW: Yes – not everyone believes in the ideas of Flight For Every Mother. For example, when we arrived in Dakar our proposed hospital visit was cancelled as our request had come across as not well organised without advanced visits to jointly discuss local need face to face. Some practitioners have voiced concern about the short time that the project is running for and wonder if it will have a sustainable impact. Such concern is usually short-lived when I explain the main goal is to raise awareness, and that we have linked with 7 key charities working within women’s reproductive health who are carrying out well established, continuous projects.

Can you measure positive and sustainable impact due to your visit to a particular area? Is that something that you can see right away or over time with results?

SW: It’s difficult to measure positive and sustainable impact in this, primarily awareness-raising, project. There is an ever-increasing following on Facebook and Twitter and I have done a number of in-country newspaper, TV and radio interviews.

I keep a record of the number of front line health workers that I train in Obstetric emergencies and I am in touch with at least one from each facility to hear subjectively about impact (patient and newborn outcomes) over time.

How may your ideas have changed since the beginning of your trip due to experience along the way?

SW: I have realised that as well as raising awareness both in-country and to the wider international public, clinical teaching and meeting with different government and non-government agencies, the information gathering that I have found myself able to do in terms of the set up of medical facilities, resource and local cultural factors is a major additional benefit of this project. Using this information, I will be able to work with both my postgraduate college, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), and other agencies in the future to highlight areas of specific need and target partnerships accordingly.

Is your primary goal awareness or impact, or both in equal measure?

 SW: Both. I am trying to do something unique that encourages people to ask ‘why?’ and then I have the opportunity to create awareness.

What message would you most like to convey to those who are following your trip through social media?

 SW: That all women should have the chance for a safe pregnancy no  matter where they live in the world.

We don’t all have our MD or pilots licence, but  you can still be part of this amazing campaign for maternal health by helping to supply the medical equipment that Dr. Webster will need along the way,  Join in and help out simply by visiting the Catapult crowdfunding page to make a donation. You can follow Flight For Every Mother on Sophie’s Blog, Facebook Page and on  Twitter!