Wrap/Up: VERVE Think Tank with Partners in Health // 29 November 2018

On 29th November, 2018, we had our final VERVE Think Tank (#VTT) of the year! You may know by now that we LOVE Partners In Health (PIH), so last night we partnered up with them to raise both awareness & our spirits by talking with the amazing Jourdan McGinn, Director of Policy & Partnership at PIH Sierra Leone. For those of you who haven’t heard about what PIH do, here’s a little glimpse:

Our mission is to provide a preferential option for the poor in health care. By establishing long-term relationships with sister organisations based in settings of poverty, Partners in Health strives to achieve two overarching goals: to bring the benefits of modern medical science to those most in need of them and serve as an antidote to despair.”

Jourdan came to London from Sierra Leone to join us at our VTT to have an interview styled evening alongside Anna Quick- Palmer (Founder of VERVE). As the drinks flowed, the pizza eaten & the skyline of London as our background, we got to hear a more in depth and personal account on the importance of PIH, how we can ensure our own governments are keeping in line with our beliefs & what we can do to make an incremental yet fundamental change.

PIH are a self-proclaimed Social Justice Organisation whose aim is to support the poor and most vulnerable. Sierra Leone sees some of the highest rates of maternal deaths; due to lack of care, of medication, of safe & clean spaces, electricity & familiarity. A staggering 1 in 17 women will die due to pregnancy, childbirth or its aftermath in Sierra Leone.

Not just in Sierra Leone, but on a global level, women’s reproductive health is under threat. The Global GAG Rule, initiated by Donald Trump (and many Republican leaders before him) have cut all funding to organizations who provide safe abortion services, counsel women on the option of abortion, or advocate for women’s rights to abortion  in developing countries. Through this,abortion was criminalised. Yet, as we all know, criminalising something doesn’t mean people will stop doing it, it just makes it way more unsafe for those in need. Desperate situations will lead to desperate decisions, seeing girls & women in these countries attempt their own abortions with knives, hangers or anything sharp & long - an estimate of 2.5 million unsafe abortions were projected by International Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes alone. These decisions made in Congress by a table of predominantly white rich men have a concrete & tangible effect on women in poorer countries. But this also means that our governmental decisions, especially in the UK, ALSO have a concrete & tangible effect- the British Government’s decision to create She Decides meant that funding was put back into ensuring these women are safe and have the ability to explore their options. So, next time you think that what we do makes no difference, remember that She Decides provides, protects, promotes & enhances the fundamental rights of every girl & women throughout the world.

By providing this fundamental care at their Wellbody Clinic, PIH Sierra Leone not only saves the lives of women & girls every day, but also provides women with jobs to work - 400 people work for P.I.H, with 95% of them being Sierra Leoneans. They provide Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA)to accompany women delivering safely at health facilities through their journey into motherhood, they provide electricity to ensure every facility they support has 24/7 power (as 90% of Sierra Leone is off the grid and without it), they see 250-300 patients every day, as opposed to the 2-5 patients a day in other medical centres. Crucially, they provide Dignified Care to these women who have seen war, violence, rape & domestic abuse. These women who are seen as not worthy of real medical care, who are scared, lonely & traumatized by a system that has failed them. PIH constantly save lives, and ensure these lives are treated with the utmost respect whilst doing so.

We can’t thank Jourdan enough for opening our eye & our hearts to the drastic realities you see every day. Without women like you, like the people in P.I.H, and even the people reading this now, the world be a much scarier & unsafe place. So thank you to PIH & all our VERVE members for being the badasses that you are. Let’s change the world, together.

Here are a few ways you can help:

Donate to our Just Giving Page for Partners In Health Sierra Leone ALL donations up to £1,000 will be MATCHED. And if you’re reading this after the page has closed GO HERE to donate.

Check out She Decides & Do Something: https://www.shedecides.com/do-something/

Share this article, or any of the links included to your friends, family & foes.

PAY ATTENTION to your government & ensure they align themselves with the core belief that girls & women EVERYWHERE deserve equality.

Think about what you buy, and where you buy it from.


Article by Team VERVE