RENEW International staff members prayed for Lisa Marie Meehan and asked the Lord to bless her as she prepared to travel to Zambia where she will spend three months conducting volunteer research to improve maternal health.
Lisa, who received the Spirit of RENEW Award at the 2013 RENEW International Gala, is one of 21 Merck & Company employees heading to countries around the world, including India, Zambia, and the Dominican Republic this year to volunteer with non-profit organizations. Her company’s Richard T Clark Fellowship program allows 30 employees annually to embed with nongovernmental organizations for three months to work on specific philanthropic programs. In Lisa’s case the Merck’s Merck for Mothers program and RTC are partnering with Africare and the University of Michigan on formative research on maternal waiting homes to reduce the mortality rate among pregnant women in Zambia.
Assistant Director Sr. Honora Nolty, OP, led RENEW staff in asking
God’s blessing on Lisa Meehan and her upcoming work in Zambia.
Globally, 800 women’s deaths are related to childbirth each year. In Zambia, maternal waiting homes are considered a key part of the solution.
One focus of Lisa’s research will be determining ways to make such maternal waiting homes financially sustainable. Lisa will be based in the country’s capital, Lusaka, and will travel to other areas of the country as part of her work.
Although three months is a long time to be away from her family, the fellowship was an opportunity Lisa felt she needed to pursue.
“I believe we should be citizens of the world, and I want to raise my daughter as a global citizen,” Lisa said, adding that traveling has helped her to appreciate other cultures.
She said she also finds meaning and purpose in helping others and sharing her blessings.
“We are really just stewards of our gifts and talents, and it’s important to me that I find ways of sharing with others. I like to do volunteer service and I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity,” she said.
“Getting to know RENEW and being recognized by RENEW have spurred me on in my desire to do more to volunteer,” Lisa said. “We all have our part to play and, as much as we think it’s insignificant, it probably isn’t as insignificant as we think, so I’m just going to keep trying to do my little part and help other people to see what their part is.”
Improving maternal health is the fifth of eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It is also the goal with the least amount of progress since the goals were established in 2000. Lisa’s employer, Merck has committed $500 million over 10 years to address this challenges through its Merck for Mothers initiative.
Zambia, which is approximately the size of Texas, is a land-locked country in southern Africa. It shares borders with Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola.