Even as maternal mortality rates continue to drop worldwide, there are still many regions of the developing world where the chances of a woman dying in or just after childbirth remain unsettlingly high. According to the World Health Organization, every day approximately 800 women will die from pregnancy or childbirth related complications, many of them in Africa.
Some factors that contribute to high maternal mortality rates are:
- lack of information
- inadequate services
In Africa, one American based company is working diligently to lower the maternal death rate in Togo, West Africa using funding from its Fair Trade products to provide direct aid to women. Alaffia (which is a salutation asking after one’s health and wishing them well) was founded in 2003 by Togolese native Olowo-n’djo Tchala, who grew up farming and collecting and selling shea nuts alongside his mother and seven siblings. He founded and runs Alaffia from his adopted home in Washington State, where all of the finished products are made. From the beginning, the brand’s mission has been to make safe, natural products using traditional methods and fair labor practices in order to promote gender equality and build meaningful economic support systems that communities could rely on, rather than charity.
Help Lower the Maternal Death Rate in Africa Just By Buying These Good-For-You Products
As a certified Fair Trade organization, Alaffia prides itself on its empowerment projects that improve the quality of life for families in Africa while giving them an opportunity to participate in the global economy through responsible use of their natural resources and indigenous knowledge. Their social programs include donation and maintenance of bicycles for children to go to school and continue their educations beyond very elementary levels, the construction of a high school, donation of school supplies as well as building support, and has provided free maternal health services for over 400 women since the start of the project. As part of its commitment to families, the brand partners with several women’s health clinics in Togo to provide crucial pre- and post- natal care with checkups, vitamins, nutritional support, and medical care. The program follows women and their babies for six months after birth; to date, not a single participating mother or child has died.
How can you support programs that are helping women and children lead happier, healthier lives in one of the poorest regions in the world?
One very simple way is to use your purchasing power wisely and make the easy switch to using Alaffia for your personal care items. Their eco friendly, handcrafted cruelty free, gluten free, Fair Trade products provide quality and value for you and a helping hand to those in need by providing them with a living wage and access to education and healthcare. My personal picks for families are the Shea Butter Shampoo & Body Wash and Virgin Coconut & Shea Hydrating Body Lotion, which smells like a beachy dream and will help recall the warmer months when the kids were still on summer vacation. Alaffia also has facial care, curly hair products that are an absolute staple in my hair practice, lip balm, bubble bath, and beautiful handwoven baskets that make great gifts.
For those interested in more formal giving, there are a number of good charitable organizations such as CARE that also help to provide support for maternal health programs around the world by providing medical materials, training, and other forms of direct support as well as lobbying. Please consult Charity Navigator for more detailed information on how CARE and other non profits operate and spend your charitable donations.
Eden Di Bianco is a dedicated cruelty free NYC hairstylist and makeup artist who specializes in natural and cruelty free beauty services including personal product shopping. You can read her recent review of Beautiful Curls by Alaffia hair products and tips for use here.