Human Breast Milk Bank
Spurred by the sense of helping others, Stasha Jordan started a human breast milk bank (SABR) to
Protect the lives of the most vulnerable premature babies.
I am a passionate activist and health promoter, determined to be a ‘game changer’ in support of improved maternal and child health as a priority area for South Africa’s health care policy and. I believe that supporting women in the journey to procreation is the ultimate frontier of Feminism. When I was young I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to be many things growing up. I wanted to be in the history books as one of the people that shaped outcomes and I guess life takes you places from that point of departure. I also wanted to be a healer and a doctor, I never quite imagined then that I would dedicate my life to human milk banking and protecting the lives of the most vulnerable premature babies. I was brought up in a well to do family of Yugoslavian immigrants in Italy and educated abroad. I attended UCT and UP in South Africa, where the inspiration for human milk banking came to be. I am blessed to have perhaps the best parents one could ever wish for. They have always been incredibly supportive of my work and passion and supported in many ways the growth of the SABR.
When I was young I was blessed with strong role models, my mom and dad where ambitious people and they encouraged me and supported my along my journey as unique as it was and remains. What inspired me when I was little and what inspires me still today is the idea that we can make the world a better place through our work, that whilst having vision is important it is the everyday actions and work that bring about change, one baby at the time in my case. That famous 1% inspiration 99 perspiration quote comes to mind.
With great difficulty like everyone, as a mom of two I love spending time with my children and try and cut out week-day afternoons to go ice skating or cooking a meal together, going on adventures to make quality time. I often travel long distances and that disrupts family plan, but we always catch up at some point later on. My children are quite quirky independent people very capable of doing their own thing so they make life easy for me.
The Human Breast Milk Bank
My first born Logan came during my master’s era in 2003 and I was working in the field of policy analysis and the consequent failure in delivering on lofty policy objectives without any implementation value. I wanted to understand what happened between having a good idea on how to solve the problem, a policy and budget and still failing at service delivery. As a new mom I was interested in all things babies and I was particularly drawn to the plight of HIV, in 29% of pregnant South African women, infant feeding and the vertical transmission (mother-to child) of the virus are hot topics.
The idea of the human milk banks was the natural progression born from word of mouth in the medical profession and grown over time, through trust and the certainty that premature babies will only receive safe products and that donated breast milk will prevent countless unnecessary deaths by preventing Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC).
Women to women
I never thought about being successful, I am an activists, I get angry about injustice, shout about it and change things. I wanted to see the lives of premature babies saved and not lost in preventable ways, ‘being this successful’ was never in the picture really as an item of the agenda. You actually can become quite unpopular for being vocal. I would measure by idea of successful against reducing premature mortality rates and we are not winning in spite of great effort, so I don’t believe we are succeeding, yet. But that is ok as it is all work in progress and we will get there as a collective of committed stakeholders.
My advice to women start small, go slow and steady. We have a saying in Italian ‘Chi va piano va sano e va lontano’ that directly translates ‘who goes slowly goes healthy and goes far’. Also know why you are in it, what sets your soul on fire. Doing it just for the money is not all it is made out to be, start business that yes make money but through delivering services and support to our communities in need and uplift them, social businesses that deliver, care, work in sustainable food farming, food delivery for the elderly and families in need, health care at cost and yet safe, there is a market out there for so many essential services but affordable services for the poorest of the poor. Find innovative solutions to empower those communities in South Africa that are forsaken and abandoned in poverty, change the South African landscape to reflect the riches this beautiful country has to offer.