Mercy Alumnae make a difference in global health


Susan McAdams, a Mercy alumna from the class of ’81, started high school as a shy freshman whose family had previously moved from state to state. Mercy took this shy child and after four years, turned her into confident young woman.
“I believe that many of the gifts of being a Mercy girl continue to come out slowly over the years,” said McAdams. “Each year I move even closer to those Mercy values that I was taught in those formative years. And that absolutely helps guide my work.”

McAdams is the executive director and board secretary of Global Health Charities, a nonprofit with a mission to connect unmet healthcare needs to innovative, sustainable solutions and resources. One of Global Health Charities major programs is the Clean Birth Kit program, where they provide women with the essential materials to have a safer birth.

Included in these birthing kits, which are valued at $8, are items many Americans could find in their homes: antibacterial soap, latex-free disposable gloves, gauze, antibacterial wipes, strong thread, a plastic sheet, a light cotton blanket, a razor blade, and a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Also included are step-by-step instructions with pictures on how to use the clean birth kits.

“There are 4.5 million infants who die every year in developing countries due to childbirth,” McAdams said. “These Clean Birth Kits save two lives. They not only help in saving those babies, they help the mothers as well.”

According to Global Health Charities, over 303,000 women die every year giving birth. When mothers die, the mortality rate of the children who are still alive increases.

“You could have a 16-year-old girl birthing alone, with no one trained in childbirth or the potential problems associated with it, and to add to the challenge she doesn’t have any clean supplies,” McAdams said. “Nothing to cut the umbilical cord with, no antiseptic wipes, nothing to lay on.”

With Adams’ background in advertising, the job of executive director for Global Health Charities was a seemingly unlikely role for her.

“I think if you commit to being true to yourself and honest about who you are and where you want to be, and connect with like-minded people, opportunities arise,” said McAdams. “That’s how I felt when Patricia Williams, [founder of Global Health Charities,] started discussing Global Health Charities with me. I knew right away, this was something I wanted to be a part of.”

Similarly, when Nadia Hakim ’16 and junior Aliya Hakim heard about Global Health Charities, they knew they wanted to get involved. As the creators of Soap for Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing women who face hardships with all-natural bars of soap, the two girls were able to donate some of their supplies for the birth kits. Last year alone, they donated over 150 bars of soap to Global Health Charities for the birth kits.

“It’s amazing to think that someone so many miles away, who’s never heard of me, might have a chance at life because of our actions,” said Aliya.

Hoping to give Mercy girls a better understanding of the lives of women in the global community, Global Health Charities will be running Sophomore Retreat this year.

“[During the retreat,] we will show a video from our March visit to health care facilities in Nepal and a refugee camp in Myanmar,” said McAdams. “We will [also] share stories and statistics, and then we will take action, which is what it is all about, though assembling Clean Birth Kits for these women.”

McAdams is grateful to Mercy’s alumni group as they were the nonprofit featured at their Bunco Night and many alumni donated items for the Clean Birth Kits. She would love to have her Mercy sisters as annual partners in terms of raising funds and assembling kits for these women and their families. McAdams also invites students who are interested in volunteering with the charity to reach out to her.

Any students interested in volunteering at Global Health Charities can contact Susan McAdams at [email protected] for a volunteer application.