HOW TO ACHIEVE THE VISION YOU DESIRE WITH CHINOMSO OBI PETERS
In this inspiring interview, Chinomso Obi Peters, the young change-maker behind Traffina Foundation for Community Health will show you how to achieve the vision you desire, and not just the one to settle for.
Hello Chinomso, It feels good to have you here today. Could you please introduce yourself to the Under35CEO community?
My name is Chinomnso Obi Peters, I am a Nurse Midwife and a fellow of Harvard/IIE Maternal Health young champions program. I am also the founder of Traffina Foundation for Community Health, a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working towards improving maternal, new born and child health in Nigeria.
When did you conceive the idea of starting Traffina Foundation? Was there any specific incident which ignited the desire in you to launch Traffina Foundation?
It started in school as a student nurse, I encountered cases of women who lost their lives giving birth at the traditional homes but only had opportunity to be at the hospital only to be certified dead by a medical personnel. Many of those women desired to have best of care during time of pregnancy and delivery, but could not because they couldn’t pay for the cost of services, rather went to the quack who cannot identify or manage complications because of lesser cost of delivery services. TFCH was setup to contribute in bridging this gap, through free ante-natal services which helped to identify pregnant women at risk, training of TBAs, and provision of free clean delivery kits which contains all medical supplies used for delivery. This serves as incentive and motivation to have the women in rural communities deliver at health centers.
What are the activities the Traffina Foundation indulges in?
Knowing the burden of maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria, TFCH has identified activities to reduce this burden:
- Community sensitizations on need to abolish harmful cultural practices carried out during pregnancy and delivery even to the new born
- Community conferences on male involvement in maternal health
- Identification and training of TBAs as community health volunteers on extent to carry out services for pregnant women
- TFCH designs and produces CLEAN BIRTH KITS to support pregnant women to deliver at health centers. This project is run under the “1 KIT SAVES 2” project. TFCH has a target of providing 50,000 yearly in various to support rural women who are limited to deliver at health centers due to lack of money. In 2014 we have supported 4000 women with the kits thus saving more than 8000 lives. This project is not under any grant, it’s running through support from Nigerian people, companies and organizations etc
- Save Our Mother Project has just been concluded, it was a project developed toward improving maternal health with use of mobile phones. At point of ANC registration the woman submits her phone number which is used to send reminders in local languages on next ANC appointment, immunizations, pregnancy do’s and don’ts, nutrition tips and EDD. We have 2000 women on our data base who utilized this programs
- We also have a free counseling program for pregnant moms.
What exactly was the initial mission of the organization and what kept you motivated?
The mission is to provide access to quality reproductive-maternal new born and Child health services to large populations irrespective of age, culture and givens of life. Hmmm, the joy of saving mothers from dying during pregnancy and delivery. In the past I have lost many friends to childbirth, till today I am still sad such a thing happened. Everyday I am looking for innovations to bring in to help end maternal and new born death in Nigeria. When I want to give up I remember the figure that 145 women and 2,300 under 5 die daily in Nigeria from preventable complications, and I tell myself “you are among the people to change this ugly reputation Nigeria has”.
In 2012, “Let’s Save Our Mothers-Mobile Ante-Natal Services” was listed as one of the 50 most inspiring ideas and solutions that re transforming the lives of women and girls around the world. Could you please tell us more about the project?
Yeah, TFCH “Lets Save Our Mothers –Mobile ANC services” was listed amongst the 50 inspiring ideas in 2012 by Women deliver. Knowing the burden we face here on maternal health, we submitted this inspiring solution to improve the lives of our women. We discovered also that some of our women also do not attend ANC while pregnant due to some cultural reasons or lack of transportation to the health center. TFCH innovation was created to go community by community to identify this group of women. TFCH collaborates with the health centers within the communities to offer free ANC services to these women and immediately hand them over or refer them to the health center. Those of them with access to mobile phones were receiving daily information about pregnancy to keep them going. This innovation made great impact and is worth expanding to more states.
What were the difficulties that you faced as an entrepreneur in terms of inspiration and operations?
The vision has always been there, ideas and innovation to bring this change flows in daily….. Of course not everyone will like or buy into your vision. God gave me the determination and kept me going. The funding was not there and its funny Nigerians don’t build the vision of young people. Thank God President GoodLuck Jonathan is beginning to invest in young people now. All I have ever worked for out there I invested in this vision to save lives and I give God the glory for serving Him through this. I didn’t want to give up because I want to give hope “through God” to the unborn. It wasn’t easy for me because many people discouraged me to keep moving, but I thank God for my family and few friends who stood by me till today.
Tell us, what’s the secret of launching a nonprofit idea?
Well people have their vision; I don’t think there is a particular secret in this. If God gives you a profit making idea, as long as it will make a change, benefit people , all you need to do is do it right, be humble and don’t give yourself the glory.
Can you tell us about how you go about fund raising, marketing and donor development for Traffina Foundation?
TFCH idea is to get Nigerians involved in what we do especially the ongoing “1 KIT SAVES 2” project. The 145 women dying daily are our sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, children etc. It’s our problem and we should not wait on donors from other country to solve our problems, nobody will feel the pain more than we do, so we engage private sectors and individuals outside the health sector to buy into this project by supporting the production of the free “CLEAN BIRTH KITS” going round in many states now. We don’t sell our birth kits, we give out free. We are currently in partnership with many private sectors now on this. People make donations too.
What critical information do you think young people need to start and lead a nonprofit?
Determination is the key, be innovative in what you want to do. Expect and get ready to overcome challenges and obstacle. Appreciate the good work others are doing, never compete with anyone especially when you are doing a non-profit work, it’s selfless. Have the right motive, with a wrong motive the person will fail.
What has been the main achievement of Traffina Foundation so far?
TFCH has provided job opportunities for many young people. During holidays and strike, we recruit young people to intern and volunteer with us. This provides learning/training opportunity for them. As a youth led organization, we make our mistakes here together, learn and sought them right together. TFCH has really improved access to maternal and child health services in states/facilities we work (can provide evidence on request). The “1KIT SAVES 2” project which was launched to bridge the gap for mothers giving birth at dirty delivery homes due to lack of money has provided 6000 clean birth kits, thus saving lives more than 12,000 lives. TFCH is amongst the leading NGOs proving Chlohexidine gel for treatment of cord infection and Misoprostol tablet to prevent postpartum hemorrhage all “FREE” alongside the clean birth kits to pregnant women. The beautiful PINK bundle (Clean birth kits) is also designed and produced by TFCH. We have mothers and young people who make the bags. We can do more with your support out there.
How do you personally define success?
To me Success is “peace of mind” and it’s only God that can give that, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. Success is also achieving the vision you desire, and not just the one to settle for.
What do you think about Under35CEO?
Under35CEO is a vision builder, giving life and adding value to what young people are doing. I am inspired with the work going on here. Keep us the good work.
Lastly, what’s the big dream for Traffina Foundation?
TFCH has a big dream of becoming a donor agency to support community projects to improve maternal and child health programs, reproductive health and other development work in Africa. Taking over the likes of Bill and Melinda gates foundation! Yes, you heard me right and God will surely honor this vision and desire!
Are you a young entrepreneur under the age of 35 with an interesting story of success (or failure)? If yes, then the Under35CEO community has something to learn from you.
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