Source: The Standard
Friday, July 06 2012
s a mother of two, Anne Soy-Mwendia understands too well the importance of affordable and accessible maternal health for all mothers. She spoke to GARDY CHACHA about her passion
As a news reporter for Standard Group’s Kenya Television Network (KTN), Ann Soy Mwendia has a pedestal she uses to free muffled voices of reason. It’s what she loves doing and dedicates time to. As much as she delivers at work, in the same breath, she is passionate of her life-long career; that is motherhood.“I’m a mother to two girls and sometimes my job demands that I work away from home. I strive to deal with both,” she states.
Having been brought up by a mother who had to deal with working for the government while parenting her and her five siblings, Anne understands the confusion such a scenario offers the life of a child.
Nonetheless, she exudes virtuous character instilled through her upbringing, something that would only be possible in an environment aligned with ethics.“Though our parents lived separately, we found a balance spending time with both of them. They raised us in Christianity; imparting us with character. I guess that’s what molded us to who we’re today,” she says.
Apart from the fact that she’s a mother, nothing else captures the understanding that motherhood is something close to her heart.
“Cases of mothers dying during delivery, in the pregnancy period, or at nursing stages are still in multiple digits. In my opinion, it’s not right. Now that I’m a mother, I’ve learnt to appreciate what our parents — particularly mothers — went through,” Anne says, adding that without mothers, the society would be ill equipped to deal with modern societal scourges. In fact, there wouldn’t be a society at all.
In one of her assignments in 2009, in her usual zeal to highlight the plight of mothers, Anne and her TV crew sneaked into Kenyatta National Hospital. Her lobes had captured whispers of secluded, stranded and locked up new mothers, whose only crime was not having enough legal tender to live as free mothers.
“We found the women with their babies clutched in their arms. They had been bundled in a tiny room, which was in no way conducive for human life.
“They were entitled to only a cup of tea a day. How could this be right for breast-feeding mothers?” she painfully asked.
Her passion and dedication to promote maternal and reproduction health for women has seen a new chapter open in her life.Anne Soy will next week preside over a feature programme that’ll bring industry players, pundits, parents, health professionals, students and officials, with support from Philips East Africa onto a round-table discussion on issues related to maternal health and infant mortality. The programme will be aired on KTN on July 13.
“This is a good opportunity for me to get into the heart of a conversation I thought was long overdue,” says Anne.
The aim of the programme is to bring everyone on board in finding solutions to reduce maternal deaths and infant mortality,” Anne says.
Philips, the sponsors of the programme, has been traversing Africa to educate, create awareness and train midwives on safe practices involving mother and child.
Subjects regarding maternal health and infant mortality have brought Anne and Philips to merge on one frontier through which conversations on obstetric matters and human reproductive health would be flagged off.
Her feature report on male prostitutes roaming the streets of Nairobi titled Muffled Killer has 64,000 hits on YouTube.
Highlighting the plight of homosexuals was worth the work since it brought out a problem that involved sexuality and reproductive health, she says.
“We want to discuss the culture surrounding marriage, pregnancy, child birth and child rearing for rural women. Practices like smoking, alcohol drinking, and drug use by women during pregnancy will be highlighted too,” she divulges.
The programme will also highlight the strides made towards healthy motherhood as stipulated in schedule Four and Five of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Anne met and fell in love with her soul mate — her best friend, the father of her daughters and the man of her dreams —, Newton Ndebu.
“We were friends and discovered we had the same ideals. Our relationship was natural; it flowed on its own,” Ann says.
“Newton complements me and is a great father to our daughters and a loving husband. The fact that he is a great father has made my work as their mother seem simple.”
As the parents of two small girls, four-year-old Neema and 21-months-old Tunu, Anne and Newton work in tandem to give their children an upbringing befitting their worth. Every action, what they do during family time, how they socialise with people or how they react when a mistake needs to be corrected contributes ounces into who they’ll grow up to embody.“We want our girls to grow up knowing what’s wrong and what’s right. For Tunu, the youngest, I use gestures to stress the point that what she has done is wrong. We do ‘time out’ with Neema and she has even learnt how to apologise,” says Anne.
Anne’s love for motherhood has drawn her closer to matters of health. Though she is a professional journalist, she enrolled for a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH).
“I want to report from an informed perspective. My professional contacts advised me to think about taking an MPH to bolster my prospects of reporting on health issues and I did,” she says.
Despite her lean frame, she powers her vocal cords to say how she wants it, the way she wants it; whichever way she believes is right. Her hope is for right things to happen in the society.
“In this day and age where healthcare is available, but not to all, it is right that we push for the government to do what’s right for its people,” she emphasises, adding that Kenyan mothers delivering in government hospitals shouldn’t be disparaged nor punished for not having money to pay for delivery.
“Newton has supported me every step of the way. In my first delivery he was there, but wasn’t allowed into the room. Second time round he made sure he was there and he ensured he took me for antenatal clinics. He is the best there could ever be,” she comments.