Ethiopian international supermodel Liya Kebede is using her platform to bring awareness to issues surrounding the dangers that many women face during childbirth, Forbes reported.
After teaming up with the World Health Organization to serve as a WHO Goodwill ambassador, she was motivated to start her own non-profit called the lemlem Foundation which provides support and services to women in Africa during all stages of their pregnancy, the news outlet writes. The lemlem Foundation trains individuals in the health sector on how to prepare women for giving birth. Maternal health in Africa has become a pressing issue as nearly 162,000 mothers lose their lives due to pregnancy-related complications each year.
“There is no miracle drug to cure the maternal health crisis. Solving this challenge requires a series of human efforts, education, and infrastructure,” she told Forbes. “It’s not just about building the hospital. You have to train people to work there and educate women on prenatal and maternal health. Many expecting mothers don’t see a doctor, if they do at all, until they are ready to deliver.” She also added that barriers to medical care are a huge factor in whether or not women in Africa will have safe and healthy pregnancies.
Her foundation has donated medical equipment to the Durame Hospital in Ethiopia and has partnered with other organizations that include the Hawassa Safe Mothering Center and the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association. Over the past five years, nearly 12,000 women have been helped by the lemlem Foundation.
Kebede is also using her foundation to empower African designers and artisans. She created the lemlem clothing line that includes pieces from over 250 designers in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Madagascar. Five percent of sales are donated to the lemlem Foundation. Kebede is proud that she can use her platform for social good. “I want my life to have meaning so I try to seek it out in everything I do. The attitude has opened me up to organic situations that continue to form and evolve in my life,” she said.