Netflix Movie Reveals Grim Reality of Nigeria to Europe Sex Trafficking

Tens of thousands of young Nigerian girls and women leave their country every year with sincere hopes of starting a brand-new life in Europe where they believe they will be met with ample job and educational opportunities to provide for their families. That is what they are often told by “recruiters” in their home states who seek out vulnerable girls (sometimes as young as ten) and women to leave for Europe. Unfortunately, the promises made to them by human traffickers are empty promises. In reality, four out of every five Nigerian girls and women who survive the long, harrowing journey to Europe will end up in the sex trade.

We often read about these stories in the news, but cannot adequately understand the harsh lives these girls and women endure at the hands of their traffickers. Essentially held in modern slavery, the women and girls have a debt placed upon them that they must pay off by prostituting themselves or else face dire consequences, sometimes fatal. Not only are they faced with threats by their Nigerian madams, they are also exploited in the streets where they are susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases, rapes, and physical violence. Wanting to tell these stories, Austrian filmmaker Sudabeh Mortezai wrote and directed Joy, an award-winning drama that shows the harsh and complex realities of these women and girls’ lives as prostitutes.

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#MaternalMonday Officially Launches Today in Nigeria

The global maternal health social media conversation that has been ongoing since 2013 under the #MaternalMonday hashtag was officially launched by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) today in Abuja, Nigeria. The new #MaternalMonday digital space will allow WBFA to reach more users, even in remote areas, via a medium that is rapidly growing and evolving, wrote WBFA in a press release.

“Launching a standalone digital platform for mothers, campaigners, healthcare professionals, and others to engage with one another will allow us to deliver life-saving health information to even more people in communities across the African continent, and indeed the world,” said Felicity Ukoko, Head of Programmes and Advocacy at the Wellbeing Foundation Africa.

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With H.E. Toyin Saraki

We are excited to launch our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with an interview with H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, founder of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.


When did you know global maternal health was a bigger issue than you previously realized?

I became aware of the serious issues surrounding maternal health and survival over 20 years ago, when I gave birth to twins in Nigeria. I tragically lost one of my twin babies during childbirth, and then had to fight for the survival of the other. Even though I was an educated and informed woman, I was unable to save the life of my stillborn second twin daughter because of the infrastructural deficiencies in Nigeria’s healthcare system at the time, including a fatal delay in finding an anesthetist for an emergency C-section. Although I was grateful to leave this painful experience with my first twin and my own life, I realized that this experience is an unavoidable reality for many women in Nigeria, and indeed across the world.

Globally, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. And, where a mother suffers, her child suffers; and more than 3 million babies die before they are a month old. I founded the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to help address this heartbreaking issue that affects so many women and children. At first, my view was much more localized and I did not know all of these global statistics and the injustice that was taking place on a daily basis; but now it is these statistics, and the real life stories behind the statistics, that spur me on to continue every day.

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A Preventable Polio Story

By Banke Sorinwa, a Nigerian mother and worker in financial services in Lagos.

It was our first day back to boarding school after the summer break. Some students shared hugs and narrated tales of the long holiday, while others were teary eyed because we were once again stuck in the four walls of school. It was also the time we looked forward to meeting the new students.

My friend Tonya noticed a new girl saying goodbye to her mom. We both also noticed that she was in crutches. That’s when Tonya told me a story about herself as a child.

Tonya said how fortunate she was that her parents discovered early on that she had polio. She was lucky in that she fully recovered. The girl Tonya and I saw on the first day of school was in her first year at secondary school and was on crutches till the end of the academic year.

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Infographic of the Week: 2015 African Elections

This year, Africa will see 16 general, parliamentary, or presidential elections. We are particularly interested in the elections in Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Zambia and will follow them this year. Of note, Zambia’s election is on January 20 and Nigeria will hold their elections on February 14. After the sudden death of Zambia’s former president, Michael Sata, last October, Zambia had 90 days in which to … Continue reading Infographic of the Week: 2015 African Elections

Social Good Mom’s Breastfeeding Story Published by Gates Foundation

We are thrilled that one of our members is published on Impatient Optimists today. Read her post: A Mother’s Story in Nigeria: Breastfeeding Saves Lives. Jayne Whyte is a maternal health advocate and entrepreneur based in Abuja, Nigeria. Jayne participated in our 24 hour marathon where we shared moving breastfeeding stories and spreading the word about Save the Children’s new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies. … Continue reading Social Good Mom’s Breastfeeding Story Published by Gates Foundation

24 Hours, 24 Moms, 24 Poignant Breastfeeding Stories #FirstHour

For 24 straight hours that started on Thursday, February 21 at 9 AM through Friday, February 22 at 9 AM members of the Global Team of 200 shared moving, intimate, personal breastfeeding stories on their blogs and spread the word about Save the Children’s new breastfeeding report, Superfood for Babies: How Overcoming Barriers Will Save Children’s Lives. As we wrote earlier this week, the report … Continue reading 24 Hours, 24 Moms, 24 Poignant Breastfeeding Stories #FirstHour

New Media Journalists Travel to India, Report on Child Survival

Caption: Women and Children’s Hospital in Mumbai, India: A child is pictured at Cama Hospital, a major hospital for women and children, in Mumbai, India. Photo: United Nations The International Reporting Project (IRP) has sent ten new media journalists to India to report on child survival. You may recall, the Indian Ministry of Health along with UNICEF and USAID convened the latest Child Survival Summit earlier this … Continue reading New Media Journalists Travel to India, Report on Child Survival

The Plight of Female Frontline Health Workers

We have written at length about the power of frontline health workers from documenting female frontline health workers in Ethiopia to discussing the importance of their work as they provide health care to those without access to health centers and hospitals. While we know that frontline health workers are pivotal to the overall health of a country, it is also important to note that many … Continue reading The Plight of Female Frontline Health Workers

World Polio Day

Today is World Polio Day. World Polio Day was started by Rotary International and is an  annual day on October 24 where the world comes together to stress the importance of global polio eradication. The good news is polio is nearing complete eradication with only three countries where the paralysing disease is still endemic – Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. India is currently one-year free from any reported … Continue reading World Polio Day

Book Review: Our Kind of People

Our Kind of People: A Continent’s Challenge, A Country’s Hope by Uzodinma Iweala My rating: 4 of 5 stars When it comes to HIV/AIDS on the African continent we, as Westerners, are often blinded by the ubiquitous stereotypes that permeate our perspectives and opinions about Africa. We then can only rely on the authentic and experienced voices of authors, reporters, and first-person stories from those … Continue reading Book Review: Our Kind of People

Our First Knowledge Partner: IDEAS From the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

I am excited to announce our very first knowledge partner, IDEAS, a program launched in the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Over the course of our partnership we will share a great deal from IDEAS’ research in Ethiopia, India, and Nigera about maternal and newborn health. IDEAS (Informed Decisions for Actions) aims to improve the health and survival of mothers and babies through … Continue reading Our First Knowledge Partner: IDEAS From the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine