Anina Hewey and Amelia Graves
What actions are you taking to promote and protect the health and rights of women and young people worldwide?
Currently, we are both serving as Program Directors with Manna Project International (MPI). We co-lead the MPI Child Sponsorship nutrition program in the municipal landfill in Managua, the country’s capital city. We manage the sponsorship program that provides approximately sixty children with supplementary nutritional products and medical resources. In addition, we fundraise for Casa Base clinic, which primarily serves women and children in the dump. This year we’ve led the program’s initiative to introduce Plumpy’doz, a ready-to-use therapeutic food, to the nutrition program as a replacement for fortified milk, oatmeal and vitamins that we previously distributed. We have learned immensely from the successes we’ve had and, of course, also the mistakes that we’ve made in the nutrition program. We believe that we’ve shown strong leadership in the nutrition program and in other Manna activities during our year in Managua. Our work in Nicaragua has built upon extensive prior experience living and working in communities in Thailand, Cambodia, and Ecuador and our educations at the University of Florida and Barnard College. We are prepared to use this knowledge and the relationships that we’ve already formed in Nicaragua with local organizations, communities, and individuals to build our program. In addition, we are in the process of seeking to establish a non-profit organization that connects Supplementary Plumpy with expecting mothers in Nicaragua. We see this project as a natural step from child nutritional interventions toward supporting young pregnant women. We have also begun to involve young Nicaraguans in our projects, and we aim to design a program that will capitalize upon their energy and enthusiasm. The foundation that we’ve built during our time in Nicaragua will facilitate our vision toward a plan for sustainable change for young women and their families in Nicaragua through supporting pregnant women.
What is your vision of lasting change for yourself and for the world's young people?
Women are the backbone of every nation; they are the nurturers, teachers, doctors, and friends to their entire communities, often encompassing all of these roles in one simple title – mom. They are the cornerstone of every family. Their loss is cataclysmic for a family unit, which often falls apart without a mother’s leadership, especially in the developing world. Our vision addresses the needs of young mothers and the young people of the next generation. By ensuring the health of women, specifically mothers, and helping to bring them and their children to a state of wellness, our project will help to ensure healthy and productive futures for generations to come.
If you could tell world leaders one thing, what would it be?
Investing early in health and education for young women empowers them to provide a healthy future for their families and for themselves. In their eyes, one finds the yearning to take their destiny into their own hands. Knowledge is powerful, and young women with access to information and resources can and will enact positive change in their communities and homes.