- Faith & Family
Common wisdom says that television, also known as the boob tube or the idiot box, provides nothing but trashy non-redeeming information. However, for 58-year-old Lorna Owens, television inspired her calling after she witnessed a news program reporting the continuous conflict in Congo, where an estimated two million women have been raped.
That report led Owens to research the Congo further and what she found revealed a country with numerous issues from continuing violence to widespread rape and poverty. But it was the high infant mortality rate that particularly struck her.
“The magnitude of it was just phenomenal to me and I thought, ‘why isn’t anyone doing anything’ and then a voice told me, ‘it’s up to you,’” Owens said.
Eventually Owens decided to create the non-profit organization, Footprints Foundation, Inc., last year.
According to Maricia Narine, a board member of the organization, “The mission is to help reduce the rate of maternal death and infant mortality in locations around the world and we do this by training midwives and raising funds to buy supplies for midwives for the hospitals that we’re working with.”
The foundation’s goals were a natural fit for Owens, a retiree from criminal and entertainment law, who is herself a certified midwife and registered nurse. Still concerned about the women living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Owens decided that the foundation’s first education mission would start there. Even with all of her research and consulting experts and other non-profits in the Congo, Owens and other members of the Foundation were unprepared for the reality of life in the Central African nation when they visited for the first time in September 2011. They visited Project Congo Alliance in Goma, Congo and St. Vincent Hospital in Bukavu, Congo.
“I can’t explain to you how poor and how chaotic and how much infrastructure [lacking] that there is in the Congo,” she said. “So whatever we think that we are going to go into the Congo and do, we’re already 10 steps behind.”
For example, they learned that among the obstacles to training were a potential student population that was illiterate, spoke a variety of African dialects, and a lack of electricity and sterile work environments, according to Owens.
How exactly Footprints Foundation, Inc. will overcome these obstacles is at the top of organization’s list.
“We don’t have a specific date certain, but the goal is to be doing the [training] later this year,” Narine said.
According to Owens, when they do begin training, a “class” will consist of about 30 local women.
By Kaila Heard