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Grassroots vs. Treetops

“For me, it’s more about helping to plant the seeds so that the roots, and eventually flowers, can grow.”
—Mieko McKay, Senior Program Associate, EngenderHealth

The driving force behind any successful initiative is the community and its advocates, who have the most knowledge of local health needs. Indeed, the power of community mobilization is infinite. One example is in rural Guinea, where EngenderHealth has seen volunteers from all walks of life coming together to form Safe Motherhood Village Committees. These groups make sure that women get antenatal care and emergency treatment during labor, raise awareness of maternal health, and guide women suffering from fistula to treatment facilities.

Our View from the Ground

Photo of Mieko McKay Mieko McKay, a key liaison with the village committees in Guinea, reflects on her early experiences and how she learned long ago the difference that grassroots movements can make.
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In rural Kenya, with leadership training a woman named Esther became an ardent advocate for women’s health and mobilized her community to build a hospital, repair the road, and build a bridge—infrastructure essential to ensure women’s access to lifesaving maternal and reproductive health care. Impressed by these community efforts, the government of Kenya is looking into expanding this model in other parts of the country.