Get Karen to Haiti: A Grassroots Fundraiser for Safer Births

Ensuring Safe Births During Unsafe Times

When disasters strike – like the earthquake in Haiti, Sri Lanka’s tsunami, or hurricane Katrina – emergency tents are set up and medical aid rushes in. What we at BirthSwell recently learned, though, is that the need for reproductive health care – including basic care for women in the childbearing year – rarely gets women to the front of the line. That’s where Circle of Health International (COHI) comes in – and why we at BirthSwell decided to get involved.

COHI is one of the few non-profits that focuses exclusively on working with women in times of disaster to ensure access to reproductive, maternal, and newborn care. What makes COHI even more unique: they work at the grassroots, partnering with the local community to identify their priorities and needs. They respect local cultures and values and focus on building skills in the community with local providers. This means their work is sustainable, long after COHI volunteers have moved to the next disaster.

When we learned about COHI, we first wanted to sign on as volunteers! But since neither of us are in a position to haul our nurslings into disaster zones, we offered to do the next best thing – work to get one of their well-trained volunteers to Haiti.

Bring A Skilled Volunteer Midwife To Haiti

We offered to organize a fundraiser to support their inspirational work. We wanted to create something that echoed their model of grassroots volunteerism. COHI knows that change isn’t built by just one person – it takes a community working together. Similarly, it won’t be just one splashy contributor that makes a difference for COHI (though we sure do love big checks!).

We believe that we can find at least fifty women who could each give what they can, between $10 – $100. That’s what it will take to pay the way for Karen Feltham, a skilled midwife, to get to Haiti – and that’s what grassroots is all about!

Knowing the power of social media to reach the audience most likely to get this issue – other moms, who can only imagine what it must be like to be pregnant and in a time of disaster – we’ve focused our efforts online. To spread the word as far as possible, we called on the people who best understand the power of grassroots organizing through social media: bloggers.

We invited bloggers from across genres – activists, birth experts, inspirational moms – to join a circle of support for COHI. Each blogger has agreed to take on a day of the campaign. These amazing women are educating their readers about the need for women’s health care in times of disaster. Of course, we’re hoping that readers will provide much needed funds to COHI – which will help get a trained midwife to Haiti.

But like COHI’s operations on the ground work to create long term success in a community, we have a longer term goal of sustainabiltiy for COHI. We’re hoping that readers of this campaign will like COHI on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and otherwise stay in touch! We want to build and deepen a network that sustains COHI not just through Haiti, but for the disasters to come.

Because sadly, each year, one-third of the world’s population will be affected by natural disasters. 13 million will become refugees and 20 million will be displaced within their own countries. Women and children constitute as 80% of the world’s refugees and displaced people.

Please consider helping out today:

Contribute! You can even get perks!

Get connected! Visit our indiegogo site and be sure to share it on Twitter, Facebook, and your listserves.  (The indiegogo site has great tools and widgets for sharing – try them out!)

Thank the bloggers who are building a circle of support for COHI! (Check out the schedule below)

Join us! Would you like to join in and write a post for your blog? Drop us a line and we’ll get you everything you need to get started.

The circle of supporters include:

Monday the 9th – Our Bodies Our Blog

Tuesday the 10th – Desiree at So Fawned

Wednesday the 11th – Anthrodoula at Doula Ambitions

Thursday the 12th – Life Intertwined

Friday the 13th – Amber at

Sun the 15th – Hillary at Infinite Learners

Mon the 16th – Dionna at Code Name Mama

Tues the 17th – Molly at First the Egg

Wed the 18th – Alice at Your Doula Bag

Thurs the 19th – Robin at The Birth Activist

Fri the 2oth – Molly at Talk Birth

Sat the 21st – Veronica at Crunchy VT Mommy




  1. […] participating in for the next two weeks. Hillary Boucher and Jeanette McCulloch at BirthSwell have more information about the collaborative […]

  2. One Voice for Women | Life, Intertwined on January 12, 2012 at 5:42 am

    […] and board on the compound where the birth center is located (about $300). The wonderful ladies of  BirthSwell are collaborating with COHI on a grassroots fundraising campaign to support Karen’s travel […]

  3. […] am partnering with the birth advocacy group BirthSwell and the nonprofit organization Circle of Health International on a campaign to support midwifery […]

  4. […] amazing group of bloggers supporting this cause! You can see everyone who is participating over at BirthSwell. And if you want to blog about this cause leave a comment and I’ll get you set up! […]

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