1 in 47 Ugandan women die during childbirth or pregnancy. Meet the woman who wants to change that.

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Ilana Shemesh always knew she wanted to volunteer as a midwife in a developing country. After retiring from a decades-long midwifery career in Israel, she finally got the opportunity.

But when she arrived in Nabugoya, Uganda in the summer of 2018, she knew this would be more than just a one-time volunteer trip.

On February 5th, at the inaugural Women Repair the World Event, Ilana will share the story of the resilient Ugandan Jewish community, and the stoic, optimistic women with whom she has developed deep relationships.

“I was in shock by the living conditions and the poverty,” says Ilana. “Women were delivering babies on grass mats. They walk miles to the clinic.” Maternal health statistics were bleak—1 in 47 women died during pregnancy. Only 1 in 19 babies survived the first year of life.

After meeting with the local health center to assess how she could assist long-term, Ilana returned to Israel with a goal: raise $60,000 to provide safe, sterile birthing conditions for the village.

When Ilana’s story caught the eye of Israel Center Director Eilat Harel, she knew it was the perfect link between several Federation projects: a growing partnership with NCJW Minnesota (the national council of Jewish women), Partnership2Gether (Ilana lives in the Minneapolis partner city of Rehovot), and the refresh of Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy program.  With help from Federation’s Israel Center, NCJW and Women’s Philanthropy united to form Women Repair the World, a series of events designed to involve and engage Jewish women and their allies in feminism and activism worldwide.

The series culminates in March 2020 with a Women’s Delegation to Israel.

Ilana Shemesh with more from village.jpg

Women Repair the World: Ilana Shemesh

Tuesday, February 5 | 7 PM Warehouse Winery