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Programs : Brochure

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  • Locations: Iganga, Uganda
  • Program Terms: Spring Travel, Summer Travel
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: TJU applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:

Safe Mothers Safe Babies 2017History
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies (SAFE for short) was founded with the mandate to improve maternal and neonatal health through projects conceived and implemented in true partnership with the citizens and professionals of the local communities in which SAFE operates. Originally a collegiate-based initiative of Vassar College founded in 2007--the Vassar Uganda Project--we have been working with the people of Uganda for 4.5 years, and have been working in Iganga District for 3.5 years.
The Vassar Uganda Project became Safe Mothers, Safe Babies in 2009 when SAFE founder, Jacqueline (Law) Cutts, and a number of the SAFE volunteers graduated from Vassar College and established SAFE as an independent organization. SAFE still maintains a strong relationship with university students, and encourages the involvement of college students, graduate students, and PhD students from a variety of disciplines and institutions in our volunteer work.
Our Vassar College legacy directly shaped who we are today. By studying development and its frequent failures to make tangible, sustainable change (including our own mistakes from when we first formed) with Vassar professors, we learned about participatory development -- what we term our approach to seeking partners, not just participants in our target communities. This evolution also shaped our commitment to educating the rising generation about participatory development work, recognizing international and community development as mutual development, in which we, as development actors, learn as much (or probably more) from those we serve as we offer in return.
Where We Work
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies currently works in rural areas of Uganda. Uganda is located in East Africa, nestled between Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. It is approximately the size of Oregon, and home to an estimated 32.7 million people. The majority of the population live in rural villages and rely on subsistence farming for their livelihood.
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies concentrates most of its work in Iganga and Namutumba Districts, Uganda. Iganga is the second largest and fastest growing district in Uganda, located in the eastern part of the country, on the trade route between the capital city, Kampala, and the Kenya border. Namutumba is a smaller district just outside Iganga, but even more rural and served by many Iganga health facilities. Our primary projects currently serve more than 50,000 people directly, in addition to more than 120,000 people indirectly. It is in these locations that we undertake our process of participatory development, allowing us to serve people in comprehensive, systematic ways that address multiple barriers to good maternal, child, and family health.
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies also has a few projects that operate in other districts in partnership with other nonprofits. These "secondary districts" including Bugiri, Jinja, Luuka, Soroti, Mukono, Mbarara, and Kasese. Projects in these areas directly serve more than 40,000 people per year, but in more one-dimensional ways (for example, solar lighting a few health facilities in a particular district).  As we continue to expand our capacity, we intend to expand our entire program into these secondary districts, a process we started undertaking in 2011 and will continue for years to come.
What We Do
Safe Mothers, Safe Babies employs a systematic process of "participatory development," working with rural communities--not for them--to target the "Three Delays" that contribute to maternal and child morbidity and mortality in the first 1,000 days of life (conception to age 2), more specifically reducing:
1) Delays in Making the Decision to Seek Care: Safe Mothers, Safe Babies first works to improve health decision-making during pregnancy, birth, and for curative and preventive child health services. We form and partner with a network of community groups to improve behaviors through culturally sensitive outreach.
2) Delays in Accessing Health Facilities:  When a woman wants to deliver in a health center and has the support of her family to do so, there can still be several other barriers in her way to accessing quality medical care, for example, washed-out roads, lack of transportation mechanisms, or lack of money to pay for services. SAFE addresses these delays by teaching women and families to save for healthcare and emergencies, and by providing emergency transportation.
3) Delays in the Provision of Quality Care: No meaningful improvements in health indicators will take place without the presence of highly skilled, well-trained, and well supplied healthcare providers at all levels of facilities in the health care system. SAFE partners with rural health facilities and hospitals to increase midwifery training and continuing education, and to improve key maternal and child heath supplies and medications.
Because this approach relies on community participation, the combinations of projects are unique; but on the whole, many of the communities we serve develop similar projects, allowing us to implement, evaluate, and perfect our understanding of what works and what doesn't. This allows us to be successful and scalable at the same time.
One reason our approach is so successful is because we undertake this process with local "change champions"--local people, both men and women, who are known in their community as leaders. They each have a vision in which their community can--and should--escape poverty and ill-health; they care about the wellbeing of women, children, and families, and have the ability to recognize problems, develop solutions, and galvanize community support. We also seek to accelerate our programs using innovative technologies that ensure the projects permeate every facet of a community, towards achieving maximum impact.
This approach is unique because it is: (1) Demand-driven, (2) Collaborative, and (3) Focused on individuals, while also being (4) Scalable.
How You Can Help: As a Student
If you are a current high school, undergraduate, graduate, or professional student interested in public health, global health, maternal and child health, or nonprofit administration, we would love to work with you! Safe Mothers, Safe Babies is unique in that, while we have a series of advanced and professional advisers and board members to ensure that our programs are in-line with current international standards, we are an entirely youth-run (under the age of 30) organization in all administrative and programming positions. One of our core values is teaching the next generation of development agents about participatory development, and helping to prepare them to undertake global health and nonprofit work in ways that encourage and promote community participation. We entrust real responsibility in our personnel, and thus seek to find highly self-motivated, dedicated, passionate, and teachable team players with whom to work.
We have several ways in which such people can be involved:
1) Internship: Internships can be either domestic or international; some of them receive academic credit for their work, while others do not (depends on the student's school and the individual's preferences). Domestic interns fill specific roles within the administrative and programming arms of Safe Mothers, Safe Babies, including responsibilities that fall in categories like nonprofit manageemnt, donor relationship and network development, grant writing and reporting, programmatic research and development, social media and branding, and human resources recruitment and development. International interns travel to Uganda over school vacations, typically from 4 to 12 weeks between the beginning of May and end of August, after undertaking the SAFE preparatory course on participatory development. They develop, implement, and assess specific projects, working with a lead Practicum Student, and in partnership with the rural communities where SAFE works. If joining SAFE as a domestic or international intern sounds like an exciting opportunity to you, please complete the internship/practicum inquiry form at the bottom of this page. Someone will reach out to you shortly thereafter with more information.
2) Practicum Students: Practicum students are generally master, PhD, or DrPH students who receive credit from their universities for working with SAFE. Domestic practicum students usually provide specialized services to SAFE, including work with organization finances, consultation on specific legal tasks, analyzing and summarizing international evaluation data, writing grants, and reporting to donors, amongst other activities. International practicum students lead small groups of interns to develop, implement, and assess projects in partnership with rural Ugandan communities, typically from 4 to 12 weeks between the beginning of May and end of August after undertaking the SAFE preparatory course on participatory development. If joining SAFE as a domestic or international practicum student sounds like an exciting opportunity to you, please complete the internship/practicum inquiry form at the bottom of this page. Someone will reach out to you shortly thereafter with more information.
3) Formal Leadership Positions: SAFE also has a number of domestic formal leadership positions that are vital to keeping the organization running throughout the year. These are generally year-long positions, but for the most part can be completed from any geographic location (unless noted otherwise). These are the people who make a lot of programming decisions, and really run the organization on a day-to-day basis. Because SAFE recently expanded the scope and reach of it's projects, 2012 is a big growth year for us in terms of the number of leadership positions we are seeking to fill.

Jefferson Student Reports - Safe Mothers, Safe Babies

Uganda - SMSB - 2015
Uganda - SMSB - 2011
Uganda - SMSB - 2010


This program is currently not accepting applications.