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 for more information.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.