Interview: Maranda Pleasant
Maranda Pleasant: What are you passionate about?
Christy Turlington: I am passionate about a lot of things: my family, and other mothers and their families for whom I advocate on behalf of through Every Mother Counts.
MP: What makes you come alive?
CT: Being of service to others daily makes me feel alive. In addition to my family, it’s also connecting with other women. Participating in a sisterhood with other women is hugely important in my life and a source of joy.
MP: What makes you feel vulnerable?
CT: Feeling powerless.
MP: If you could say something to everyone on the planet, what would it be?
CT: For those who have one, please use your voice. So many of us don’t have that ability.
MP: Tell us about about your latest projects.
CT: I am focused on raising awareness about maternal health and the work that Every Mother Counts (EMC) does to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms. EMC was born out of a documentary film I made in 2010. No Woman No Cry is about the status of maternal health around the world. We filmed four women in four countries: Bangladesh, Tanzania, Guatemala, and the U.S., all at critical junctures of their pregnancies.
My motivation for exploring this subject was quite personal. I survived a potentially life-threatening childbirth-related complication after delivering my daughter, Grace, ten years ago. I learned that hundreds of thousands of girls and women die each year due to similar and often manageable complications. They die because they don’t have access to critical maternity care that could easily save their lives. Once I discovered that the majority of these deaths were preventable—as many as 90 %—I was inspired to further investigate the issue. What resulted was No Woman No Cry. Every Mother Counts originally began as an outreach campaign to further educate those who had seen the film and wanted to know more, but it quickly developed into the advocacy and mobilization campaign it is today. Last year we became a 501(c)(3) foundation. This has allowed us to raise funds for programs in Haiti, Uganda, and the U.S. The Uganda grant is made in support of another initiative we’re working on, called Saving Mothers, Giving Life.
Our goal is to continue to contribute to the global effort to significantly reduce lives lost at birth. EMC’s goal is to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms. To achieve that, we have a ways to go. I strongly believe that each preventable death is one death too many.
MP: How do you keep your center in the middle of chaos? Do you have a daily routine?
CT: Yoga is an integral part of my daily routine. That definitely helps me approach all aspects of my life from a place of mindfulness and clarity, through the meditation that usually accompanies this practice. I also love to run, which is another form of meditation.
MP: How can we all get involved in EMC?
CT: There are numerous ways to support Every Mother Counts, which we provide on our website, everymothercounts.org. Some easy ways that people can take action and get involved are to watch and share any of our films or purchase a product (proceeds directly support EMC and our initiatives). Share the global statistics with your friends and family. Run a marathon or 5k in support of EMC. Collect used cell phones for health workers around the world. All of these actions have the ability to make an impact.
MP: What is love to you?
CT: It’s connection with others. Union with another human being or living thing. That’s also Yoga.
MP: What’s been one of you biggest lessons so far in your life?
CT: I know that I can’t solve all the maternal health challenges in the world by myself. I need and want others to join me. Together we can make the difference in the lives of so many others.
MP: What truth do you know for sure?
CT: That if you truly want to make an impact on the world, you can and you will.
MP: Any other causes that you are passionate about?
CT: I am passionate about any effort to achieve social justice and equality, particularly for women.
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