Mothers of Africa

 

In many of the West African countries giving birth isn’t taken as seriously.

Towards the maternity hospital, they don’t have enough money to provide patients with hospital gowns or other accessories. Many of the mothers have to pay for their own medication, birthing supplies as well as the newborn’s clothes along with their hospital bill and stay.   The women that come in to give birth without prior notice, usually have to wrap their newborn with the scarf or cloth that they came in with till family members come in with spear clothes

The goal is to provide mothers with scrubs to wear while giving birth and provide the newborn babies with clothes. The African student Association, the club usually conducts many volunteer projects. The problem that would be faced would have to be the distribution of the clothing. We don’t want to give the clothing out without any meaning or mission. We would take some prenatal course here to be able to teach back to the women that are receiving the clothing. Many of the hospitals don’t provide prenatal courses for women to learn how to properly give birth.

Resources: We would contact the local hospitals for prenatal class, reach out to the school clubs for support, and donates of baby clothes. 

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Let’s talk about sex baby

​What is something so natural to human existence, something that we are all connected to in some way everyday yet almost never openly discuss? Sex. Sex is one of the most natural actions that comes to humans, it begins each one of our lives. Without sex there would be no you or me there would be no one! If sex is so important and natural and beautiful why is it also so taboo and hush hush. I believe that sex needs to be more openly discussed and taught about in schools, within families, with friends. I was brought up in a home with a very religious catholic mother. Sex was never discussed under my roof, sex didn’t exist under my roof. The ‘birds and the bees’ talk which didn’t pertain to me because I was actually curious as to how two women could have sex, a question I would definitely not get answered by my parents, was left to my cousin’s discretion because my parents were too embarrassed to discuss sex with their child. This situation made my early teenage years a little hard to deal with when I was questioning my sexuality and wanting to explore more of that when I was taught to suppress those feelings and thoughts. Fast forward five years and I’m sitting in a college classroom learning about sexual health in a women studies class. Here it becomes clear to me that sexual education isn’t only awkward in my household. By taking an intro women studies class my views were backed up and I felt even more solid in my beliefs. I want to make sexual education more open and available to anyone that wants it. To kick off my activism and incorporate it into my life I have tried to build a more open dialogue about sex with my friends and close family.

My Activist Identity

When I began identifying myself as a feminist, I never thought that the actions I partook in would be considered activism. While I knew that the label “feminist” was often associated with activism and the history which it entails, I was under the impression that one could be both a feminist and not an activist in what one may deem the “traditional” sense. Although I do believe an argument can still be made for this assertion, in my opinion, identifying as a feminist is an act of activism in itself.

When you begin identifying as a feminist, from my experience, you begin to look at your life from a different perspective. You begin seeing the discrimination, the prejudice and, possibly the worst, the casual sexism and other acts of bigotry which you may have missed before, sometimes coming from your closest friends. When you notice this, or are confronted with the question of whether or not you are, in fact, a feminist, you are being asked to defend your beliefs, and to identify with a system, a group, that has a history of activist nature. Just by saying to the casual sexist in your life, “Hey, I’m a feminist”, you are giving the feminist movement a familiar face, humanizing a strain of activism which has been demonized over the years.

This is where my identity as an activist initially took root. I didn’t so much as put myself out there, so to speak, as I was put into certain situations which called for me to speak out. I had to realize that activism isn’t just picketing outside of the capitol, it’s also being able to make a difference in your own life, even if it is just raising awareness.

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Get DOWN’s with it.

IMG_5030I have never seen myself as an activist. To be honest, I have never even thought about activism or how it pertains to me before this semester.  I would definitely say that within the last 8 months of my life, that has changed. My youngest brother, William, is only 9 months old and has been diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. Although my brother is still only an infant, I feel very passionate about not only helping people that have special needs but making sure that they receive every tool in order to succeed in life. It is my goal to become apart of an organization that advocates for children with special needs and specifically children that have Down’s Syndrome. Through this class, I have started my process with working with Best Buddies, a special needs organization, but I still want to do something more. I have invested some of my time into researching different programs and organizations that are all about advocating for special needs, whether it is for adults and helping them to get and keep a job or for children and making sure he/she receives the necessary tools for everyday life. There is an organization called F.R.I.E.N.D.S (Family Resource, Information, and Education Network for Down’s Syndrome), which I am trying to get involved in. F.R.I.E.N.D.S helps out families, they advocate for children that are in the public school system to make sure they are getting the right tools to succeed, they raise awareness throughout communities, etc. So to answer the question, at first I thought activism was just not something I was doing or wanted to do but it is now such a huge part of my life. I want to know that I have helped people that are going through the same things my brother is and will go through so it is not only extremely important to bring awareness about these issues that children and adults with Down’s Syndrome go through but it is an issue that is very close to my heart.

Portrait of a Pseudo-Activist

Throughout my life my family has teased me about being a “hippie” or “too nice” or “sensitive” due to many aspects of my personality, but especially with my career path and things that I like. I volunteer pretty frequently with the homeless, families of children with chronic illness, and at animal shelters. I get emails from World Wild Life Fund and Change.com, however I will readily admit that these emails often get discarded along with those to Bed Bath & Beyond and Living Social. You’ll occasionally see a FaceBook post from me about a homeless shelter in need of volunteers or the latest documentary on Elephant poaching, but other than that, I have a very underdeveloped activist identity.

As a future social worker, advocacy will be a huge part of my career. Certainly there are varying degrees of involvement with advocacy and activism; however, I fear that if I do not learn more now, I will lose opportunities to help those in need or make necessary changes to benefit others. While I understand that there is a sliver of activism in my life through things so small as social media posts and sharing documentaries, currently, my relationship with activism is abysmal. I hope that with this class I will become a less passive activist and more directly involved in advocating for change.

We Know Our Rights!

One activist movement that really inspired me was something that I learned about last semester in my Gender Women Studies 100 level class. For homework one week we were given an assignment to watch the movie Made in L.A. which is a documentary film that follows these immigrant women around L.A. and tracks their progression as the fight the clothing company Forever 21 to get better working conditions for the workers in sweat shops. These women left their families in their home countries so that they could give them a better life in a country that they thought had great jobs and equal opportunity to be sadly mistaken. Since a lot of them were not legal in the United States or didn’t know a proficient amount of English the job pool was limited.

Working in the sweatshops was all they had left for as an option. Sweatshops typically look for women workers because their hands are smaller so they can micromanage detail in the line and because women are less likely to speak out to unfair conditions. This sweatshop was wrong on that point. These women fought Forever 21 every day for a couple of years, this included going to other parts of the country and educating people about the conditions in sweatshops and going to other forever 21’s and telling them about what happens behind the scenes. At one point they even went to the house of the CEO of Forever 21 and marched and protested there! After a couple of years of difficulties getting people to protest and getting their voices heard they finally had a court hearing with Forever 21 and their lawyers and were able to win the case of granting better hours and conditions in the sweat shops. These women were not legally citizens, yet they knew their rights as human beings and did everything in their power to improve the conditions they were under and succeeded.

Who is an activist?

The reality of education’s often unbalanced approach to handling bullying issues hit me. Victims become perpetrators and perpetrators, supposedly unwitting victims. During his attendance at my brother’s alternative middle school, Sean expressed many insightful comments. For example, he knew that being black brought with it unspoken prejudice, and pointed to the Trayvon Martin case as evidence. Sean and our dad had watched the Trayvon Martin case carefully and I watched my little brother struggle with harsh truths of prejudice and friendship. Yet through it all, Sean also did something that startled me: He spoke.

Ok, fine, in many cases he would only share his frustrations with me. Remember, he is  only 12 and mom is still “weird” to talk to in his mind… but his unnerving maturity sprinkled with the breaking of innocence pricked me. On many occasions he shared the dichotomous feelings he felt about the education he received at the alternative middle school compared to the school he had been suspended from. “Big Sister, although I don’t want to be at this school [alternative middle school] they know how to teach me”. Sean had even been bumped to higher level reading classes, something at the previous school he worked hard to reach but never attained.

Although Sean did not share these frustrations on a nationwide anti-bullying campaign tour, his vocalizations made an impact on me. He still played with the neighborhood kids, although he expressed his embarrassment in doing so. He felt the hurt when a previous classmate seemed  to hide from him in the grocery store. He explained that he knew he was not the violent kid that some might want to depict him as but knew he could very well become that, simply out of tiredness of trying to prove otherwise.

I remember being the bully at his age. Tired of being bullied myself, I became the 6th grade tyrant of psychological warfare (I am too ashamed to call it abuse). I related to the depth of some of the hurt my brother felt while being bullied and also realized the negative repercussions being the victim of bullyinghas. I got pissed because I knew and still strongly believe, like the 6th grade version of myself,  Sean’s bullies need help. Help in realizing they to are hurting as they are hurting others. I bullied because I wanted control back, I wanted the power I  felt I lost. If activism is just handing out flyers on a street corner, proclaiming a cause or launching class action lawsuit, Sean is not an activist. But if at its fundamental core, part of activism, is simply speaking out, then Sean is activist.

Sean’s thoughts lead me to change my profile picture to “I was a bully”. I needed to admit that what I did was not right and hopefully to urge others to do so too. Although it did not have the intended effect, and only caught my friends by surprise, it presented an opportunity to admit a part of myself, that has since been changed, and desires even more, thanks to Sean, to do something about it.