The power of being there
Deep in the Bolivian Amazon, María was in the final weeks of pregnancy when she experienced painful and frightening complications. After an arduous, hours-long journey to the nearest health clinic, the doctor treated her and told her to go home and wait. But María was afraid that she wouldn’t survive another long journey during a difficult and complicated labor.
Mariam, a widow from a remote village in Burkina Faso, West Africa, was living deep in the shadows. For more than 16 years, she suffered the humiliation and isolation of life as a survivor of obstetric fistula, a devastating disability that results from obstructed labor without appropriate emergency care.
After civil war erupted in northern Mali, 19-year old Dieneba was captured and repeatedly raped by rebels who invaded her native Timbuktu. She finally escaped, fleeing with her mother and young son to Mopti, a city 250 miles south along the Niger River. Forced into prostitution, she had multiple sexually-transmitted infections and was in constant physical and emotional pain.
Sekou, a teenager in the slums of Bamako, Mali’s capital, worried that his friends were taking terrible risks. In a country where 100,000 people are living with HIV, the word on the street was that HIV and AIDS are all a big lie, and that unprotected sex isn’t really so dangerous.
Thanks to the support of our generous donors, Family Care International was there to help them.
María and her healthy (and vaccinated!) newborn baby boy are back in their village, because she spent the last days of pregnancy at a maternity waiting home near the clinic — a new waiting home that FCI fought for and helped to set up. Thanks to FCI and our local partners, Mariam had fistula-repair surgery and now runs a successful business raising sheep and selling beignets (donuts) in the local marketplace. Dieneba is now safe and healthy, thanks to medical, psychological, and financial support from an FCI program to help survivors of gender-based violence in Mali’s civil war.
And Sekou is teaching his friends how to prevent HIV infection and unintended pregnancy, thanks to an innovative FCI peer education program. “A lot of my friends,” he says, “told me that they now believe AIDS exists, thanks to the information that I gave them!”
FCI works towards a world where all people have the knowledge to keep themselves healthy and the choices to freely exercise their reproductive rights. We work to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother and baby. We strengthen grassroots organizations and activists, building their advocacy skills and influence so they can speak up effectively and powerfully for their own communities’ priorities. We partner with countries to improve their reproductive, maternal, and newborn health policies and programs, and demand that governments be accountable for keeping their promises.
With your help, we fight not for quick fixes, but for practical, sustainable, locally-owned, evidence-based solutions. We fight for the 800 women and thousands of newborns who still die needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth every single day. We fight for more than 220 million women who still don’t have access to the birth control that they want and need. We fight for real change; our work saves lives.
You are an essential partner in this important work. Your support for FCI is an investment in our common future, one that empowers women and young people, strengthens families and communities, and builds a healthier and more equitable world.
FCI was there for María, Mariam, and Dieneba, for Sekou and his friends. We are there for the thousands upon thousands of women and young people who still do not have access to the health services and information that can save their lives. We will be there for as long as it takes.
Please be there with us.
My very best wishes,
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