Ubumama is an arts-based partnership
founded in 2004 by Imagine Chicago, the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe
Motherhood and Create Africa South in Durban in conversation with the World
Health Organization. Its mission is to raise awareness and mobilize community
engagement to save the lives of the nearly 600,000 women a year now dying
preventable deaths in childbirth, almost all in the developing world.
Mothers in high risk communities are
brought together with a midwife to share their stories of giving birth and are
paid to create a beautiful garment in native dress embellished with their
stories. Together they also compose a message to the world about their situation
as mothers. While sewing, they are provided education on safe motherhood
practices. Ubumama garments have been produced so far in South Africa, Malawi,
Tanzania, India, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Imagine Chicago has used images from
the garments and messages from the participating communities to produce cards to
raise funds for the project’s expansion into new countries and to magnify the
voices of affected women. The hope is to expand the project to the top 30
countries that have the highest number of mothers dying in childbirth, and to
use individual support to do so. The garments are available as a traveling
exhibition to raise awareness and mobilize support for safe motherhood. They
were on view at the UN on Sept. 25, 2008 at a special breakfast hosted
by the Director General of WHO and at a special MDG service hosted the same day
at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. For more information on Ubumama or to
purchase cards, please visit www.ubumama.org.