San Francisco, United StatesDolpa Do, Nepal
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

OHW saves lives of women and children in rural, underserved communities. We focus on education and training in maternal child health and facility improvements.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Every year, half a million women die in pregnancy and childbirth, 4 million infants are stillborn and another 4 million will die before they are one month old. Death rates of women and children in remote districts of northwestern Nepal are among the highest in the world. Up to one in twenty mothers and one of three newborns do not survive childbirth. To date no other organization has been able to deliver a sustainable maternal child health program to these areas. One Heart World-Wide (OHW) is seeking to implement a comprehensive maternal child health program through its Network of Safety model in ten of the least developed and underserved districts in northwestern Nepal.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

OHW has established the Network of Safety, an effective, replicable and sustainable model to reduce preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth among vulnerable indigenous populations. The OHW model improves the health and wellbeing of pregnant women and newborns that may not otherwise have access to health services due to socio-cultural barriers, limited personal resources, or living in remote locations. Essential to the OHW model are integration of local resources, collaboration with local communities and providers, and respect for cultural norms and practices. The Network of Safety is a community-based participatory model aiming to build local capacity (training and equipment) at various levels. OHW works simultaneously with local communities and local health care providers to raise awareness, teach good practices and distribute essential supplies to ensure that mothers and babies survive pregnancy, delivery, and the first months of life.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Though she is only 15 years old, Victoria Cienega Castro has already been helping mothers in her community. She joined the OHW Network of Safety to help her realize her dream of nursing. As one of the volunteers we have trained, Victoria serves an area consisting of 13 communities. Victoria currently oversees 6 pregnant women. She gives them safe motherhood messages during and after pregnancy, prenatal vitamins, and clean birth kits. OHW provides Victoria with training and equipment to be able to measure blood pressure and heart rate, as well as recognize the danger signs of pregnancy and delivery before a complication occurs. At this point, Victoria is the only consistent medically trained person in her community. With the skills she has learned, she has helped evacuate a pregnant woman with preeclampsia and a baby with complications. Since her training, Victoria has attended two deliveries for mothers who could not reach the clinic on time. Victoria told us, "we had to walk two hours to reach her only to find it was too late and she had to deliver at home." Because of the unsanitary conditions the mother was in, Victoria had to use OHW's clean birth kit. "Her delivery was successful without any complications," she said to us proudly. Victoria's community admires her dedication to her people. Our model has allowed Victoria to contribute to her community, educate people about proper maternal health practices, and ultimately - save lives.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are a number of organizations working to reduce infant and maternal mortality rates. What sets us apart is that we are working where no one else dares, and where need is the greatest. While more accesible areas are saturated with Maternal Child Health programs, the populations we target are hard to reach and therefore often forgotten by similar MCH intervention programs. Our model has been proven to be successful, replicable and sustainable. Competition over funding sources would be the only challenge that our peers might pose. However, OHW does not see these organizations as threats to our success, as we are all working toward the same goal - to provide every woman with a safe birth experience and to help infants survive childbirth and the first months of life.

Founding Story

In 1997, Arlene Samen had a life-changing encounter with the Dalai Lama. He asked Arlene to help the many women and infants who were dying in childbirth. In her travels she learned about the plight of pregnant women and newborns in developing countries and in particular Tibet, where one out of ten newborns died due to preventable causes. She set out on a mission to understand the local traditions, religious, and cultural beliefs in order to develop a culturally sensitive model to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Soon after her meeting with the Dalai Lama, she founded One H.E.A.R.T (Health Education And Research in Tibet) and set up a model in which community members, health care professionals, and new mothers were trained in life-saving skills and taught safe birthing practices in rural, underserved areas of Tibet. After ten years of successfully working in Tibet, Arlene and OHW expanded their programs into remote regions of Nepal and Mexico.
About You
One Heart World-Wide
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

One Heart World-Wide

Organization Country

, CA, San Francisco, San Francisco County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, XX, Dolpa Do

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Cost.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

One Heart’s longterm goal is to expand our culturally sensitive and sustainable Network of Safety model beyond our current project locations to other regions of Mexico and Nepal and to other regions of the world where populations lack access to care for pregnancy and delivery services. The Nepali and Mexican governments have shown a keen interest in a wider implementation of the Network of Safety within their borders. The Nepali government has recently approached One Heart to incorporate their Newborn and Birth Preparedness Packages within the Network of Safety and as a result, One Heart is poised to make a significant difference by allowing the Nepali Government to reach their Millennium Development Goals in maternal child health for the Baglung and Dolpa Districts.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

During our time in Tibet, One Heart experienced a number of significant successes. In collaboration with the local Health Bureau, One Heart was able to decrease unattended home births from 85% to 20% over the last ten years, mostly by ensuring the presence of a skilled attendant at delivery. In 2008, in the two counties where One Heart was working, the Lhasa Prefecture Health Bureau reported no maternal deaths and newborn death rates dropped from 10% to 3%, over the 10 years since the start of our project. In 2008, to ensure long-term program sustainability, One Heart turned over the responsibility of continuing our life-saving programs to our local Tibetan team. This group of dedicated and well-trained Tibetan colleagues have established themselves as the Lhasa Prefecture Maternal Child Health Association (LPMCHA) and registered as a local non-profit organization. To this day, the LPMCHA successfully continues to implement One Heart programs and models in Tibet.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

Our projected impact is to reduce maternal mortality by 50% in our program areas. OHW will work to improve the knowledge, skills and attitudes of volunteer trainees. We want to implement community outreach programs by trained FCHW. FCHW will distribute educational materials, clean birth kits and prenatal supplement to pregnant women. Certified volunteers and professionals will increase prenatal visits and the number of women taking prenatal supplements by 30%. We hope to increase by 20% the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery. We want to increase the number of women delivering with a clean and safe birth kit by 50% (among home births). We hope to meet 2015 MGDs in maternal health in all of our districts.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Political uprisings and working in remote areas and can hinder the success of our projects. In 2008, due to governmental issues, OHW had to leave Tibet. The sustainability of our model allowed us to overcome this obstacle. Our local Tibetan staff and volunteers were able to use our programs to form their own NGO and to this day they continue to implement our model through the infrastructure we left behind. We work in some of the most remote areas of the world, the Himalayas in Nepal and the Copper Canyons in Mexico. To deal with the remoteness of these areas, we have set up health clinics nearby so that medical supplies and treatment are more readily accessible. We provide immediate transportation units and trained staff to assist in emergency evacuations of distressed pregnant women.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Expand our reach by increasing the number of trained health workers/volunteers

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Train community health workers

Task 2

Train Skilled Birth Attendants (SBA)

Task 3

Train referral hospital staff

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Increase skilled attendance at birth

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Implement community outreach program

Task 2

Equip accessible birthing centers and place the trained Skilled Birth Attendants

Task 3

Provide support to trained Skilled Birth Attendants

Tell us about your partnerships

One Heart World-Wide has been a member of the Clinton Global Initiative since 2009. Other partners include Direct Relief International, Global Healing Foundation, Good Works Foundation, Jasmine Charitable Trust, The Greenbaum Foundation, The Mulago Foundation, The Bridge Fund, Ashton Family Foundation, George Family Foundation, Barry Hershey Family Foundation, Vitamin Angels, Conservation Food and Health, The Tides Foundation, Rancho Feliz, JNF, Ronald Mcdonald House Charities, among others. Previous donors include March of Dimes, CDC, and the US State Department.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your innovation? If so, where and why?

In 2011 the Nepali Ministry of Health asked us to expand our Network of Safety to areas of western Nepal where there is an unequal distribution of MCH interventions. In the most remote areas, the need for intervention remains high. The 11 districts selected have the worst MCH care indicators in all of Nepal. In Mexico, the region in which we currently work has maternal and infant mortality rates nearly ten times higher that of the rest of Mexico. We have been asked to expand our programs there to neighboring municipalities. In China and Liberia we have been asked to consult on MCH projects.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

Our team is comprised of a combination of doctors, nurses, public health scientists and administrators. Under the guidance of our talented in-country program managers, our local staff in each of our sites make our programs successful. Our growing network of community health workers and volunteer health professionals make our work possible by bringing our program model into communities nestled deep in the most remote regions of the Himalayan Foothills and the Canyons of the Sierra Madre in Mexico. Our President, Founder and CEO and COO are able to perform their duties from the US knowing that their programs are running smoothly on the ground. Cultural sensitivity is important for all involved as each program is developed specifically to meet the needs of the population being addressed.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We offer technical assistance to organizations that wish to implement our model within their own programs. We share our innovation, ideas, and research with interested partners. We are always open forming new partnerships that will benefit vulnerable populations of women and infants. We also continue to incorporate new innovations in technology and medical equipment into our program model.