Conscious party: Mama Maisha fights maternal mortality

BY THE NUMBERS: Since forming in 2013, Mama Maisha's team has trained and donated supplies to 15 maternal health advocates and 40 birth attendants, facilitated emergency transport for dozens of women and educated more than 1,300 individuals on healthy childbearing and family planning. "We work with local stakeholders to ensure our project is local and sustainable," says the nonprofit's co-founder and president, Reta Graham, left. Photo courtesy of Mama Maisha

WHAT: A benefit concert for Mama Maisha, featuring Emma’s Lounge and Freewheelin’ Mamas

WHERE: Lexington Avenue Brewery

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 2, 7-10 p.m.

WHY: About twice per year, Drs. Reta and Jeff Graham travel to Tanzania, where their nonprofit, Mama Maisha, operates in five villages. In addition to providing pregnant women with prenatal and delivery resources, the organization educates communities on family planning, healthy pregnancies and safe deliveries. One immediate goal is to reduce the country’s maternal mortality rate, which was 398 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

“Mama Maisha trains local women and men as project staff,” Reta explains. “The staff members facilitate women’s and men’s groups, community education events, trainings for local clinical providers and outreach to the community, [including] regular meetings with village leadership, local government and local health facilities.”

Though Mama Maisha works to highlight larger social issues that keep women’s health from being a top priority, the nonprofit also deals in details. A recent training, for example, enumerated proper birthing hygiene processes and emphasized the importance of traveling to a health facility to deliver.

Mama Maisha’s upcoming benefit concert features musical performances by self-described “space age folk wave” group Emma’s Lounge plus all-female strings trio Freewheelin’ Mamas. The Grahams have also organized an auction featuring art by Dana Chilean.

Though admission is free, donations are encouraged, and the event webpage outlines the impact of contributing: Ten dollars buys one safe birth kit, $30 equals one month of wages for a community health worker, and $100 funds an educational event. Mama Maisha aims to raise $15,000 in concert proceeds, which would fund an expansion into additional villages and buy bicycles to help village advocates traverse their communities.

Visit mamamaisha.org for more information.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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