As proponents (some might say zealots!) of the campaign for maternal and infant health here at CultureBaby, we were very excited to learn about Kangu.org, a non-profit organization connecting individual mothers around the world with affordable healthcare.
By profiling mothers in regions in need, caring individuals can click, read all about the expectant mama, and put their dollars to work by specifically funding her safe birth. By partnering with global partners, Kangu and you can track the new mama's progress all the way to seeing her safely delivered with a new baby and a big smile.
We spoke with founder and CEO Casey Santiago about her work at Kangu and how it was born of her personal connection with other mothers like herself.
I live in New York City, with my husband and my two kids, who are 2 and 4 years old. I'm lucky to have a lot of family members who live in the same city.
Your background exposed you to any number of global health issues. What made you focus in on maternal health?
There's a deeply personal reason and a practical one.When I was in labor with my first child, I thought of all the other women around the world laboring at the same moment. I felt the strongest connection and deepest supported. After having a safe delivery and a healthy baby, I just couldn’t shake what I knew: that more than a quarter of a million women die each year because they lack access to the prenatal care and childbirth services I had just received. Because of where I was born, I would survive. I couldn't stand by while so many women labored on their own or with untrained family members, in unsafe and unclean settings.
On a practical level, saving mother's lives is completely possible. We've made great strides and with the right focused efforts, we can make sure that no woman dies a preventable death. If half of all the pregnant women each year in the US alone gave just $25 to support another pregnant woman on Kangu, we could extend live-saving services to every mom-to-be in the world that needs them. Maternal mortality is a tragic story but also one of hope, connection and sisterhood.
Can you talk about how being a mother impacts your personal connection to the women Kangu supports?
Motherhood changed me in a million ways. Small ones (I now clean my floors!) to big ones (I now speak my mind). I can now personally relate to each and every woman on our website regardless of how different we may appear because we've shared a profound experience. For me, being aware of this sharing of feelings is one of the most beautiful things in the world. I also always like to mention that I've talked to so many people who aren't mothers who also feel a real connection to the women profiled on Kangu. When you search the profiles of Kangu mamas, they talk about what it feels like when their baby moves in their belly, what they want to name their baby, their mixed emotions of excitement and concern. We can relate to it easily, despite the fact that they live a life of subsistence: sheltering, feeding and clothing their family on less than $2/day.
Tell us about the way Kangu's direct donations can have an immediate effect and how the introduction of individual women to donors is significant.
When you donate to an expectant woman profiled on Kangu, we transfer the funds directly to the hospital caring for her. We publish real-time updates from the hospital on the outcome of the mom's birth. For just $10, you can have a measurable, impact on a specific mom in Uganda, Nepal or India. Every woman profiled on Kangu has agreed to be on the website and knows that there are people around the world supporting her during her pregnancy and childbirth.
By creating a site around individual women, Kangu puts a face, a name and a story on an issue - and lets you become part of the solution. We form connections between people that never would have been able to encounter each other. We are also turning traditional philanthropy and international aid on its head by creating a direct connection between the donor and the recipient.
Tell us about how you involve your kids in the issues you care about and how your parenting decisions are impacted by your work.
My kids are still young, so I try to talk to them about all the different ways people live in this world. We talk about very concrete things, like about various types of homes that people may live in. I find myself often saying "some people do this... and some people do that..." When they get older, I hope that they will see that I love what I do (most days!) and that I'm working to bring more love and meaningful moments of connection into the world.
Is raising your children as global citizens important to you? If so, what does that mean to you and how do you practice it?
In this day and age, we are all global citizens. It is important to me that my kids have a strong sense of who they are, where they come from, and that they are loved. My current thinking is that if my kids have that, they are more likely to be empathetic, thoughtful and aware as they engage with the broader world.
Remember: whether you give to Kangu or CultureBaby's own Baby for Baby campaign, consider giving to a mother and child in need as an essential part of your gift to a mother and child you hold dear!