Women Like Us Foundation supports women's leadership for Gender Equality and Social Justice in the areas of Sex Trafficking, Homelessness and Education.  It is the purpose of our blogs to create awareness of the work of women and the impact they are making on the world.

Liya Kebede has an undeniably beautiful face; she is after all a supermodel and actress.

It’s 3 am in a remote village in Ethiopia. A woman is in labor due to give birth and the nearest health clinic is hours away. Her only choice is to deliver the baby on the dirt floor of a makeshift hut in the pitch dark. There are no health care providers of any sort to assist with the birth. Can you imagine the sheer terror this woman must have experienced?

Even though Liya grew up in Ethiopia and knew safe mother/child deliveries were an issue, nothing prepared her for seeing it first hand. As tears ran down her face, Liya wondered how this woman would survive. Fortunately, there was a glimmer of hope because someone else cared.

94% of women deliver at home without a trained attendee. Nearly 300,000 mother’s die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth every year and 1 million newborns die on their birth day.

We often put blinders on and may even think “ Not my problem.” Or “It is too far away from my own little spec in the world.” However, when a woman dies in childbirth the whole family, community and even the world feels the effects. The loss of a mother or baby is a tragedy. Each mother leaves an average of 4 orphaned children behind whose health, education and future potential decline rapidly due to condition that we can prevent.

Liya’s senses and emotions came alive when she witnessed the atrocity these mothers and babies face. Her heart broke and she decided she was not going to just walk away and go back as though nothing transpired. Liya was determined to break down more barriers for the vulnerable by taking action.

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Since most deaths happen within the 24 -hour period around the birth, Ethiopia Government and Global Partners are taking initiatives to create pre-natal programs for a safe and clean deliveries by providing a trained attendant to be present during these critical times. This was the case for the mother that day.

The Liya Kebede Foundation is a maternal health task force. The areas of priority are…

*Advocacy

*Improve access to safe birth services for under-served women

* Expand community education ( best practices) in reproductive, maternal and newborn health.

 

The foundation is part of an international movement in support of universal maternal healthcare.

Liya is passionate about helping African mothers thrive so she also created Lemlem by Liya Kebede. Lemlem is hand made goods from local artisans. This line celebrates the women and the culture. Lemlem means hand made in Ethiopia from natural cotton. In Amharic it means to bloom or flourish. How fitting?

5% of all sales and proceeds go to support The Liya Kebede Foundation. Lemlem provides another voice as well as embodies the beautiful culture and traditions of Ethiopia.

Fashion Designer Tom Ford said, “In today’s world, celebrity advocates are not rare.” “What is rare is to encounter one whose devotion and drive come from a genuine desire to better our world.” “Liya’s work comes from a place of sincerity, and her beauty is much more than skin deep.”

For more information on ways to donate or get involved www.womenlikeusfoundation.org

 

Shannon Stoddard- Writer- Shannon writes a weekly column for Beliefnet, titled: You Can Sit With Us. She also writes for Grit & Virtue. Shannon is an advocate for women and children who face any type of human oppression.  www.beliefnet.com/columnists/youcansitwithus