(MDG8) Develop a Global Partnership for Development

intenetIcoTarget #5 of Millennium Development Goal #8 is “Make available benefits of new technologies.”

Only 1 in 6 people in the developing world has access to the Internet.

In my term of office as national coordinator of the Western Section of the United States for American Baptist Women’s Ministries my main focus was promoting better communication across all levels of the ministry. In order to do that in the most cost-effective way I encouraged the increased use of technology by our members, from the local groups to the national level. By gradually overcoming the reluctance to learning new tools of communication our relationships were strengthened and our ministry benefited.

It is through relationships that we make a difference in our world and it takes communication to grow relationships.

Providing our sisters in developing countries with access to the Internet can bring them into our world and us into theirs. Relationships will form and people’s lives will be changed.

A few of the Millennium Development Goals are considered controversial in certain conservative Christian circles, but this target of making new communication technologies available has very few detractors. All Christians recognize that our responsibility for the welfare of our neighbors extends to individuals all around the planet.

We know that getting to know the folks next door and across the street makes our local neighborhoods safer, friendlier places to live.

Individuals communicating with individuals and forming relationships that uplift each other and their communities blesses us all, and that includes our world-wide neighborhoods, as well.

And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said unto him, “What is written in the law? How readest thou?” 27 And he answering said, “‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.’” 28 And He said unto him, “Thou hast answered right; this do, and thou shalt live.” 29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said unto Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 37 And he said, “He that showed mercy on him.” Then said Jesus unto him, “Go and do thou likewise.” – Luke 10-25-29,37

This blog post ends our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #8 is “Develop a Global Partnership for Development.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

This blog post is contributed by Jonna Hawker Turek, a past coordinator of the Western Section on the American Baptist Women’s Ministries national board. Jonna is a businesswoman, writer and motivational speaker, and lives in Northern California. You may read more of Jonna’s writings on her blog, “Power Walking with Jonna,” at http://jonnaturek.wordpress.com/.

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(MDG6–Post 2) The Perfect Gift

(Because HIV/AIDS is a topic of such great concern and involvement with our American Baptist missionaries around the world, we are presenting a second blog entry on Millennium Development Goal #6. For the first blog entry on this topic posted two weeks ago, click here.)

giftThe wrappings of Christmas have been put away for several weeks now, but as I review the UN’s Millennium Development Goal for HIV/AIDS, of virtual elimination of maternal-child transmission as well as achieving universal access to treatment, I am poignantly reminded of a Christmas gift story. In 1994, I met Naka and her infant daughter Da on the doorstep of my office, the Health Project for Tribal People (HPTP) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Naka was from the Lahu ethnic minority group. She had come to the HPTP looking for help after she was forced to leave the brothel where she had been working. Naka was HIV-positive, and ill with AIDS-related symptoms, and her 11-month old daughter was sickly as well. Sold into prostitution as a young girl in Burma, Naka had no idea where her home or family might be. Now, kicked out of the brothel, the only place she knew as home, Naka was desperate for shelter and food, which she found at the HPTP’s House of Love. Besides having her physical needs met, Naka also had the care and emotional support from a loving Christian staff, and soon both she and her daughter were thriving. As Christmas approached, the House of Love family began talking about a gift exchange. As she listened, Naka was full of questions, because she had never given a gift nor received a gift in her life. With her new-found understanding of the gift-giving custom, Naka decided she wanted to give her daughter the perfect gift. This mother spent hours looking for just the right present for her daughter, one that would communicate Naka’s love for Da. That same Christmas, with joy, Naka also learned of God’s gift to her, Jesus, and Naka accepted this gift of God’s love.

Without access to AIDS medications, within two short years Naka died, and Da was left parentless at the House of Love. After her mother’s death, Da sat on my lap and asked me, “Why does God want all the mothers in heaven?” Not only had Da lost her own mother, but she had seen each of the HIV-positive mothers at the House of Love die, leaving behind children who were facing their own disease course. I had no answer for this toddler, because in the late 1990’s in northern Thailand, without access to medications for treatment death was the simple reality for the ethnic minority women who were HIV-positive.

Thankfully, today the access to medication is vastly different than fifteen years ago. Da is a healthy, thriving young woman who will finish high school in another month, and then start to pursue a degree in Theology at college. Although HIV-positive herself, she has hope that she can live an abundant life and pursue her dream to become a Bible teacher. And she has seen that mothers can stay healthy too, thanks to the treatments now available for all people in Thailand.

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #6 is “Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

medium_brownkimThis blog post is contributed by Kim Brown, missionary with American Baptist Churches USA, serving as the director of the Integrated Ministries for Ethnic Minorities Foundation (IMEMF) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. For more information about Kim Brown and her ministry in Thailand, visit www.internationalministries.org.

(MDG6) HIV/AIDS–A Shared Burden

AIDSReduction of the disease burden of HIV AIDS in developing countries is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by 189 countries in 2000 to achieve by 2015.

Reducing the burden of AIDS in developing countries where Ann and I have served for the past twenty years is a noble and reachable task. Countries such as Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan (our current assignment) suffer greatly from HIV/AIDS. Reducing the burden of AIDS means not only providing relief and care for those afflicted with the disease but breaching cultural and even religious barriers to prevent the occurrence and spread of this highly endemic and still deadly disease.

Doctors and health workers across the world are typically more adept and comfortable at treatment than prevention. We are ingrained in science and are creatures of habit in our approach to sickness: we make a diagnosis, we confirm it by laboratory testing, we prescribe a treatment and administer a cure. Such a “cookbook” approach serves us well in relieving the suffering of prevalent diseases such as malaria and pneumonia and can save thousands of lives for children afflicted with fever, dehydration, and the like, but no such cure exists for AIDS.

The AIDS disease presents particular challenges: (1) We have drugs to diminish the symptoms but none that will rid the body of the virus; (2) We want to identify people who have the virus and prevent its spread, but many do not want to be tested due to the stigma of the disease and the risk of expulsion from relationships, communities, and even households; (3) The most vulnerable victims are women and children, often the innocent victims of this disease that is most commonly transmitted heterosexually or during birth.

We will continue to provide medicine for those afflicted with HIV/AIDS (when we can find it) and provide care with dignity for those dying from HIV/AIDS. However, to meet the MDG and to make a true impact on the spread of this disease we must focus heavily on prevention.

Medicine and faith are natural allies when it comes to relieving the burden of AIDS. God does not shun the victims of this disease and relieving the guilt and stigma are first steps in whole person care. The church has a role in disseminating messages related to the spread of AIDS and dispelling many of the myths as to how one comes down with the virus. The church can advocate the virtue of remaining true to one’s partner, the importance of volunteer testing and counseling, and even promote screening of pregnant women for whom medicines exist that can prevent the spread of the virus to their unborn children. Most important is the element of touch for those who are afflicted, care for those who are suffering, and hope for those who have given up. The burden of HIV/AIDS is not only placed on those afflicted with the disease, but on those of us who are disease-free and have the means and capacity to love and serve those in need.

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #6 is “Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

medium_clemmer_couple_2011

This blog post is contributed by Bill and Ann Clemmer, missionaries with American Baptist Churches USA, serving in South Sudan. For more information about the Clemmers and their ministries, visit www.internationalministries.org.

(MDG5) They Turned Mary Away, Will You?

Mother_with_Child_by_Merlin2525We have just observed Advent and celebrated Christmas, and yesterday was Epiphany Sunday. These are all familiar stories to us as Christian women–but one thing struck me especially this year as I’ve been immersed in the issues around the Millenium Development Goals. We listen to the story over and over again. Jesus was born in a manager in a barn among all the animals because there was no room for Mary at the Inn. Can you imagine having your child in a barn?

Today, many of us are so fortunate because we have health insurance and access to prenatal medical care, and we give birth in a hospital with all the medical technology at our finger tips in case of an emergency. We also have access to good nutrition during pregnancy and after the birth of our child, which means our child will receive good nutrition.

According to statistics from 2010 from the World Health Organization, “Every day 800 women died due to complications of pregnancy and child birth, including severe bleeding after child birth, infections, hypertensive disorders, and unsafe abortions.” “The risk of a woman in a developing country dying from a pregnancy-related cause during her lifetime is about 25 times higher compared to a woman living in a developed country. Maternal mortality is a health indicator that shows very wide gaps between rich and poor, both between countries and within them.”

In low income countries, less than 50% of baby deliveries were attended by a skilled attendant. As women of faith, what can we do to change the statistics and find better healthful alternatives for women who are pregnant? How can we assist them in gaining access to healthy food and vitamins to increase their chances of a healthy delivery and a healthy baby?

Maternal health is not just an issue in developing countries, it is also an issue in the United States when women do not have access to affordable health insurance, medical care, and proper nutrition. As women, we need to educate ourselves about the issue of maternal health in our communities and around the world. We need to work together to come up with solutions for all women to have access to proper nutrition and good medical care to ensure healthy babies around the world.

Back in Bethlehem, the innkeeper turned Mary away. Will you open the door for women locally and globally to have a safe and healthy birth? Women helping women can change the world – one woman at a time.

Blessings,

Barbara

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #5 is “Improve Maternal Health.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

Barbara AndersonThis blog post is contributed by Barbara Anderson, director of “All Hands In,” a ministry organization sponsored by Trinity Baptist Church of East Arlington, MA, addressing the issue of human trafficking.

(MDG4) Suffer the Little Children

Christmas Eve is a particularly inspiring time to focus on maternal and infant health.  As we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus into the world and into our lives, this blog post about the Millennium Development Goal addressing child mortality strikes home in a special way.

“Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—

you did it to me.”

Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

In the King James version of the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark you can find the phrase “suffer the little children.” Modern translations don’t use this archaic terminology, but say some variation of “let the children come to me.” This is the clearer meaning for us today, of course, but having been raised on the poetry of King James, I can’t see a child in pain without thinking of that phrase and of all the little children that still suffer in much the same way as those of biblical times.

The fourth Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of the United Nations is to reduce child mortality and the suffering of all God’s little children.

The mortality statistics for children under five in developing countries are improving, but of the 67 countries defined as having high child mortality rates, only 10 are currently on track to meet the MDG target.

When I read that statistic, I can shake my head and say, “Tsk, tsk!”, and go on with my life, or I can try to put myself in the place of a mother in one of those countries. What is it like to bear a child with the knowledge that she has a one in seven chance of dying before her fifth birthday?

I have been pregnant seven times, so that struck close to home. I have three wonderful grown sons, but between the second and third I miscarried four times. With each loss my odds of carrying another child to full term decreased. After the second miscarriage I tried to protect myself from the pain by becoming detached from each successive pregnancy. I feared to love the tiny life growing inside me. Eventually, I was able to carry my third son to term, but I refused to plan or hope until he was nearly full term.

What does the fear of loss do to the heart of a mother in sub-Saharan Africa? How can she protect herself from fear of loss when she is holding her beloved child in her arms?

I imagine what that is like and it hurts to try to walk that path, even in my thoughts.

We need to give, to learn, to share for the sake of the suffering children, but as women we need the courage to feel our sister’s pain, just for a moment, so that we are motivated to reach out in God’s love to both her and her children. They have been overlooked and ignored for far too long.

 

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #4 is “Reduce Child Mortality.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

This blog post is contributed by Jonna Hawker Turek, a past Coordinator of the Western Section on the American Baptist Women’s Ministries national board. Jonna is a businesswoman, writer and motivational speaker, and lives in Northern California. You may read more of Jonna’s writings on her blog, “Power Walking with Jonna,” at http://jonnaturek.wordpress.com/.

 

(MDG3) Gender Equality

In my family geneaology, young David immigrated to America from Scotland in 1746. He married Amey and they raised five sons. Just before their sixth child was born, David included a provision in his will for the unborn child, bequeathing 100 acres of land if the child should be a boy, and personalty in the event of the birth of a girl. Baby Margaret never did become a landowner.

In the Bible, the five daughters of Zelophehad—Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah—did not inherit their father’s land because of their gender (Numbers 27:1-13). When they objected to Moses of the unfairness of it all, Moses took their case to God, and God ruled in their favor.

God created male and female in God’s own image. I believe that when it comes to issues of gender equality, God trumps patriarchic traditions and cultures. God favors females no less than males and God’s salvation and shalom is freely extended to both.

Cultures and traditions lag far behind God. Consider a woman’s right to earn wages.1  In the U.S. the gender wage gap is .81, which means that a full-time year-round working woman is paid 81% of the salary of a man in the same position. Women pursuing top career positions hit glass ceiling barriers that block their advancements. South Korea has the most catching up to do among industrialized nations, with its female workers earning just 61% of what male counterparts earn. Statistics for developing nations are less hopeful and hard to find.

Consider the representation of women in parliamentary governments.2  The 100 senators in the U.S. Senate in 2013 will consist of 20 women (that’s 20 percent women, and includes the gain of 3 women elected this month). Women in Myanmar and Yeman comprise only 1.8% of their upper house/senates; Rwanda tops the reporting nations, with 38.5%. I believe the world loses when women’s perspectives and ideas are absent from problem solving and peace making arenas.

Consider women and the church–the small number of women that serve as senior pastors of churches; consider the underrepresentation of women that comprise denominations’ mission and governance boards. Surely this is a result of cultural bias, not the Creator’s.

Now, take five giant steps back so we can take in the magnitude of what gender equality means in our world. Gender equality should be a basic human right everywhere. Imagine the transformation of God’s world if girls in every country could have the right to go to school, if girl babies were welcomed into every family, if women could access training for employable skills, if loans were available to women to begin businesses. Imagine the world transformed, a world in which women in every place could inherit the family plot of land; a world that sets its will to eradicate fistulas, female genital cutting, AIDS, breast and uterine cancers; a world whose nations and tribes are governed by women and men alike; a world that respects and honors the blessings of all of God’s creation.

Gender equality is foundational to the empowerment of women and girls worldwide, a movement that is gaining in numbers and traction. American Baptist Women’s Ministries is a part of this work, and we invite you to come along with us on the journey. For additional information, visit www.abwmbreakthechains.org.

1       Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development,  http://www.oecd.org/els/familiesandchildren/38752746.pdf

2       Inter-Partliamentary Union,  http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #3 is “Promote gender equality and empower women.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

Virginia Holmstrom

This blog post was contributed by Virginia Holmstrom, executive director of American Baptist Women’s Ministries.

(MDG2) The Power of Education

Fact: More than 600 million girls live in the developing world. It is estimated that more than one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school. (www.girleffect.org)

Why should it matter if girls receive an education? Culturally, many countries believe that women and girls take care of the home and raise children. They do not need an education for their role as wife and mother. However, I believe education is the key to changing the world. If we educate women and girls, we empower them to make decisions that will affect themselves, their families, and their communities which will hopefully result in a better and more peaceful world.

  • Statistics show that when a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she will marry 4 years later and have 2.2 fewer children. An extra year of primary school education will boost her wages in the job market by 10-20 % and an extra year in secondary school will boost it 15-25%. (www.girleffect.org)
  • In a world where 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day (World Bank 2008, www.globalissues.org), the education of girls is a powerful tool to fight poverty in some of the world’s poorest areas. According to The Girl Effect data, “When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90% of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.”
  • By receiving an education, women and girls can make informed choices about health care and pregnancy, which can lead to a reduction in maternal and child mortality and the spread of HIV/AIDS.

As women of faith, we need to support and assist girls locally and globally to receive the education they deserve, but there are many obstacles girls must overcome just to attend school.

Culturally, many families do not believe girls should receive an education and that the role of the woman is in the home. Some men are afraid of the power women might gain by receiving an education. Even if a family is willing to send their children to school, many cannot afford it and if they need to choose which child to send, it will most likely be the boy. If a girl has the opportunity to attend school, their family may not be able to pay for uniforms and supplies. Transportation can be another obstacle for a girl to receive an education and, if they do decide to walk the several miles to attend school, quite often the roads can be dangerous and can subject girls to violence along the way. Many schools do not have proper bathroom facilities for girls, or male teachers may subject young women to sexual harassment.

As women, we need to use our education to find ways to offer girls around the world an opportunity to receive their own education. It starts with just one woman and one girl, and together we can empower a world full of women and girls to be economically self-supporting, making healthy choices for themselves and their families, leading their villages and communities to work together and building bridges for a peaceful world.

How can you and your women’s ministry become involved in a girl’s education? Women are resourceful and creative, and I empower you to get involved. Share with us your ideas and projects on educating girls and together we can change the world, one woman and girl at a time.

This blog post is part of our series on the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations as part of the End Poverty 2015 Millennium Campaign. Millennium Development Goal #2 is “Achieve Universal Primary Education.” Please visit www.endpoverty2015.org for more information on the MDGs, including fact sheets and updates on advances on this goal.

This blog post is contributed by Barbara Anderson, director of “All Hands In,” a ministry organization sponsored by Trinity Baptist Church of East Arlington, MA, addressing the issue of human trafficking.