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Healthy Birth

Transforming birth outcomes and birth experiences for refugee and immigrant mothers: empowering mothers and extending resources.

Photo of Jenny  Cochran
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Geography of focus (500 characters)

We are situated in Clarkston, GA a small refugee resettlement city located just northwest of Atlanta. Our community is very diverse where nearly 53% of residents are foreign-born and 57% of households speak a language different than English at home. Our friends also struggle with poverty. Clarkston has a poverty rate of 33% versus Georgia’s 15% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) and this situation is worse for families with children as 56% of them live in poverty (United Way, 2018).

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Pregnant refugee women or those with young children face added challenges as they typically find themselves confined to home due to lack of childcare and employment opportunities. The resulting isolation often leaves refugee mothers unable to learn English and produces a sense of profound powerlessness. We are building bridges between women and the medical community through education, advocacy and empowerment.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

We pursue our goal of promoting healthy births and healthy moms by offering comprehensive birth support services that are physically and financially accessible to our community. Our services also provide opportunities for part-time employment and professional growth for women. Embrace offers three principal program services to address the needs outlined above and support healthy moms and babies. First, we teach an 8‐week class series that provides an overview of evidence‐based practices in a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum care, as well as preparation for experiencing birth in the United States’ medical system. Second, we match trained labor support staff and volunteers with expecting or new moms. The third element of Embrace’s programming is focused on training refugee women to provide healthy birth services and education in their communities.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We serve approximately 100 women in Clarkston, GA each year, representing more than a dozen language groups and countries including Syria, Iraq, Burma, Afghanistan, Sudan, Central African Republic, and Togo. Moms and children enrolled in our program have significantly better health and wellbeing outcomes when compared to state and county averages. We also measure efficacy, moms confidence in speaking to her medical provider. Comparison of key outcomes between Embraces clients (E) and state averages (S) Prematurity Rate: E 3.1%, S 11.2% Low-birth weight: E 4.5% S 9.9% Cesarean Section Rate: E 23.6% S 34.2% Empowerment (medical self-efficacy) E 87% S Not available

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Our inspiration comes from stories of refugee women's difficult birth experiences that occurred in U.S. maternity hospitals. Many refugee women arrive in the US with difficult stories of pregnancy hardships, infant loss, and abuse experienced in the maternity clinics. We know that women's birth experiences stay with them over their lifetime and that birth has the power to build up a woman or tear her down. Pregnancy presents a unique opportunity to teach a woman how to find her voice and restore dignity through self efficacy and empowerment. Beata, an Embrace client summarizes the effect of our classes and volunteer support “Having gone through the Embrace classes and having the support of a volunteer, Tracy, gave me the strength to ask more questions and accept or decline procedures. Knowing there was someone there supporting me all the way gave me the courage I needed. Embrace being there gave me a voice and I am so grateful for them.”

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Our community is very diverse where nearly 53% of residents are foreign-born and 57% of households speak a language different than English at home. Our friends also struggle with poverty. Clarkston has a poverty rate of 33% versus Georgia’s 15% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018) and this situation is worse for families with children as 56% of them live in poverty (United Way, 2018). Pregnant refugee women or those with young children face added challenges as they typically find themselves confined to home due to lack of childcare and employment opportunities. Resulting isolation often leaves refugee mothers unable to learn English, acculturate to the U.S.’s medical system, and produces a sense of profound powerlessness.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

We engage with both our community members and outside experts to best calibrate our programmatic efforts. To further meet the needs identified in the refugee community in Clarkston, Embrace employs refugee men and women from the community to serve as interpreters in classes, creating a more culturally sensitive atmosphere and employment opportunity. Additionally, refugee women are trained to serve as advocates and labor support for women within their own ethnic communities. Since Embrace is the only program supporting refugee women's birth, our programs are available to all members of our community and are promoted by resettlement agencies, religious congregations, and most often, by word of mouth, which is the most effective vehicle for spreading awareness in our traditional community.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

When it comes to expert voices we collaborate with several academic institutions in the Atlanta area. In 2019 we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with RISE Program at the Emory University’s School of Public Health to support the evaluation and augmentation of our Healthy Moms curriculum. In this collaboration, we have completed the Institutional Review Board (IRB) research proposal so we can compare our moms and children's outcomes to their peer group. Additionally, we are collaborating with a maternity department of our local hospital (Emory Decatur Hospital). Additionally, we have been endorsed by our local medical clinic (Ethne Health), and Prof. Kate Woeber from Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. All these partnerships assure that our curriculum reflects the practices of local providers, maintains focus on evidence-based best practices, and in turn, we assist in increasing our partners’ competence in delivering culturally sensitive medical services.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Embrace Refugee Birth Support a program of Friends of Refugees, Inc

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Friends of Refugees (FOR) was founded in 1995 by Pat Maddox, a Clarkston resident and volunteer, after her experience assisting a Bosnian refugee family. What began as an effort to provide food and clothing over time evolved into a robust set of six programs. FOR was incorporated as a 501c(3) nonprofit in 2004 and currently serves nearly 4,000 refugees and immigrants from 30+ ethnicities and language groups including Eritrea, Burma, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Syria. Friends of Refugees’ vision is to see refugees experiencing abundant life in flourishing communities. We work towards this vision through our mission of empowering refugees through opportunities that provide for their well-being, education, and employment. By design, our family of programs provides support across life stages to serve the broadest segment of our diverse community.

Website URL:

www.friendsofrefugees.com www.embracerefugeebirth.com

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Clarkston, GA

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Photo of Zulfiqar  Deo
Team

Thanks for sharing this. Be great to see if you have time to knowledge share Business financing for refugee entrepreneurs is our project.

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