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Reporting Live from the CARE National Conference: Part 2

 

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Hillary Clinton speaks to the CARE audience

It's the end of Day 1 of my adventure covering and attending the CARE National Conference. If you've been following my Tweets, you know it's been a whirlwind day. I've learned a lot about maternal mortality, childhood marriage, food stability and other issues surrounding global poverty (and have the two notebooks worth of notes to prove it), so for now, I wanted to share a few glimpses of the day:

-The CARE Conference welcomed a record nearly 900 people from all 50 states and 264 congressional districts; the youngest participant was 8-years-old. Now in its 8th year, the conference started with 20 people.

-Worldwide, 1 billion people are chronically hungry.

-In Sierre Leone, there is a 1 in 8 risk of a woman dying from childbirth. In the U.S., that number is 1 in 5000. The leading cause of death for girls ages 15-19 is pregnancy.

-Hillary Clinton, in her keynote speech, revealed that CARE President Dr. Helene Gayle was one of the first people she reached out to after she was appointed Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton invited Dr. Gayle to join the administration; Dr. Gayle declined, stating, "I care about CARE."

-Secretary Clinton's speech focused on global nutrition. "As the government searches for areas in the fight against povery, nutrition represents the right opportunity." She, as well as many others, noted that while women are the last to eat in their families, they actually produce about 80% of food worldwide. In Kenya, for example, 60% of farmers are women.

-100,000 mothers die every year from causes related to under-nutrition.

-Aid and education works: In Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the percent of people with access to clean water is higher than it was before the earthquake.

-In her closing statements reinforcing the importance of eradicating poverty and improving access to resources, Clinton noted that in her travels, "I've always seen how talent is universal, but opportunity is not."

-There are currently 60 million child brides (girls married under age 17). If numbers continue at current rates, that number will reach 100 million in the next 10 years.

-Former basketball player Dikembe Mutombo noted that when he decided to build a hospital in his native Congo, he named it after his mother, because she was "the CEO of our home."

-Afghanistan humanitarian worker Jennifer Rowell told a story of a man she called "Mr. Hero," who created a secret school for girls in his home; thousands of people in Afghanistan have taken similar action to make sure their girls are educated. Jennifer also noted that she's lost 4 friends in the last 10 years in her line of work. Later, speaking on how she maintains her own mental health while working in such extreme conditions, Jennifer quipped, "Tuesday night salsa class. Kabul. It's amazing. Monday night yoga. The UN recreation center."

-On speaking of the lives of aid workers, Jennifer also shared that when they're at a loss for resources in the field, they ask the mothers. "They understand the overall need and they want to be as fair and equitable as possible."

-Sia Nyama Koroma, First Lady of the Republic of Sierre Leone, talked about her and her husband's work to improve maternal health. Today, all pregnant women and lactating mothers receive free healthcare. "It's been a hell of a lot of work," she noted.

-Ida Odinga, Wife of the Prime Minister of Kenya, talked about GAIN (the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), noting that nutrition is the "cornerstone of a nation's development."

-Maria da Luz Guebuza, First Lady of Mozambique, talked about her efforts to change the national illiteracy rate for women (currently 66%), by building houses for girls closer to schools and creating vocational education opportunities; but also noting how much further they have to go.

Overall, it was an incredible day filled with countless inspiring voices and unbelievable stories. Tomorrow, I'll be part of a group of about 8 constituents from Chicago (including ABC-7's Janet Davies and WBBM's Mary Frances Bragiel) meeting with staffers of Sen. Dick Durbin; Sen. Roland Burris; Rep. Melissa Bean; and Rep. Michael Quigley to talk about legislation currently on the docket to address maternal mortality, childhood marriage prevention and food security. I'll Tweet on-the-go as much as possible, so be sure to follow me; and of course, check back here to see how it went.

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1 Comment

msindependent said:

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My favorite informational tidbit: Former basketball player Dikembe Mutombo noted that when he decided to build a hospital in his native Congo, he named it after his mother, because she was "the CEO of our home."

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