Wednesday, 02 January 2008
In 2005, Shana Griffin and the other members of the New Orleans Women's Health and Justice Initiative thought it would be easy to raise money for a women's health clinic post-Katrina. The devastated city--with few cops, lots of strangers, staggering crime, and limited care--was far from an ideally safe environment for women. "But we got a reality check," she says; donations were far from pouring in. So the Initiative worked together with INCITE, a national activist organization of women of color against violence, many of whose members are under 30, meeting up four times a week. The women, who had no experience running a clinic, pooled and applied their applicable respective skills and secured and renovated a space, learned everything they could about the logistics of providing health care, put out calls for and coordinated volunteers, and raised funds. Just a year and a half after the idea was conceived, and "through hard work and sweat," on May 1, 2007, the New Orleans Women's Health Clinic opened. A group of paid staff and volunteers provides everything from prenatal care to reproductive health, sex health, and routine preventative health services four days a week. And the women who labored to provide the much-needed assistance to their peers are working hard to keep it that way.