Week 3

I am part of the Safe Motherhood Documentary project, and the first stakeholder that comes to mind is the mothers themselves. The women in Sierra Leone are the subjects of the story, and ethically, we must be very aware of their privacy. It is important to respect the lives and experiences of those being filmed. In Sierra Leone, women keep pregnancies secret. It is a cultural norm to be very low-key, so we must keep this in mind when telling their stories. Another stakeholder is the TBAs (traditional birth assistants). TBAs are key players in the narrative because of their intimate relationship with the mothers. They have first-hand experience dealing with maternal mortality, and have an understanding of the culture surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. TBAs have a responsibility to the mothers, so it is important to keep in mind the social culture and how us interacting with both parties can affect this. In addition to mothers and TBAs, families are important people to know. In order to understand the relationship between women and men, children and parents, etc., we will have to spend time observing the family structure. Marital structure as well as gender roles in the household are interesting aspects that have an influence on maternal mortality. I also think it is vital for our team to speak to workers in the health sector in the USA as well as Sierra Leone. By speaking to both, we can compare and contrast the two and get a better understanding of cultural and institutional differences. US health professionals are more accessible at the moment, and may be able to share knowledge on the causes of maternal mortality. Health professionals in Sierra Leone on the other hand are able to give insights into the resources available to women there. I am interested to learn about the ways in which hospitals are trying to encourage women to give birth there instead of with a TBA. I am also curious to hear their perspective on the reasons women do not trust hospitals. Lastly, a very integral stakeholder in our project is experts in the field. Talking to experts in health, women and gender studies, africana studies, and other fields can help us learn more. The internet is great for research, but when dealing with complex questions of culture, it is sometimes better to get information from experts that have spent time in Sierra Leone, or the region. We have already spoken to Bruce Whitehouse, and he was an amazing resource. I’m looking forward to reaching out to more professionals and learning about their perspectives.

Throughout the semester, I will gain credibility through knowledge. As our research continues, the team will learn more about the culture, issues, and people, and subsequently become more credible in telling the story. I am also looking forward to speaking with people in Sierra Leone as well as health workers in the US. By forming these relationships, I can become a more credible figure. Earning their trust is very important to the ethics of storytelling and film.

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