Inside the Blue Door – June 2020
This is a hopeful moment for choice—just this week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the right to abortion in the United States. I’m inspired by this win, but the fight isn’t over. In this newsletter, I’ll introduce you to the work MSI does to make choice possible for people in 37 countries around the world.
First, let me tell you about MSI’s Blue Door Fund. Last year, this pool of flexible funding from many donors awarded $26 million to 17 MSI programs, and because we are obsessive about measuring our impact, we can tell you where and how this funding made a difference. As a Blue Door Society member, your gift is amplified through the Blue Door Fund and makes it possible for MSI to respond quickly where funding is needed most.
For example, last year in Tanzania, the Blue Door Fund helped MSI to innovate and modify its mobile outreach services to reach more clients. We developed what we call the “split teams” approach, where smaller teams visit multiple sites. Because of this, and despite national shortages of some contraceptive methods, our mobile teams achieved 93% of their ambitious goal. The Blue Door Fund made it possible for women who wanted contraception to access 28,882 IUDs, 116,910 contraceptive implants and more than 400,000 short-term methods.
In Niger, a country in francophone West Africa with very low contraceptive availability, we faced challenges last year. The government closed our center in Maradi and we could no longer serve our clients. When the center reopened in September, the Blue Door Fund helped us quickly ramp up our capacity to serve the community by training community health workers and spreading the word that our services were again available.
As one of the reviewers, I am able to see and influence how the Blue Door Fund is used. Although time and space limit the sharing of results and insights from all 17 programs, you should feel proud and gratified; your donation to MSI US alongside those of many others helped us test new ways of reaching more women, overcome challenges and increase our impact.
It is very inspiring!
This year, due to COVID-19, we face new challenges that we did not anticipate, but our providers are undaunted and we are doing everything possible to keep them safe. We remain committed to being there for the people who depend on us—and your continued support is making this possible.
President, MSI United States
When masks cost $3.50 instead of $0.25
Most of the medical supplies we use, including personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer, are sourced from India and China, where COVID-19 has disrupted and delayed production and supply of these products. This is challenging both our ability to procure medical supplies and contraception.
These production delays have also caused the cost of medical equipment to rise. A mask in Nigeria that used to cost $0.25 (USD) now costs $3.50. These unanticipated changes are hurting national health systems and we are helping some governments in Africa to source these critical materials at reasonable prices.
“Within the first two months of this year, we found ourselves [selling out of supplies] that we projected to sell in six months.”—Carole Sekimpi, MSI Uganda Director
To continue to provide safe services and protect both clients and providers, we need the right protective equipment and supplies. And that’s why we are committed to resolving these supply chain hurdles. Your support and the Blue Door Fund help to make it possible for women to continue accessing reproductive healthcare, despite the global pandemic.
Critical contraception supplies have been less available due to COVID-19.
Christy talks to a group of clients about contraception.
A critic becomes a convert: Christy’s story
“I will first go to my people and share the good news [about contraception].”
Until a life-changing encounter with MSI Nigeria’s outreach team, Christy Esom was on a mission to discourage everyone from using contraception. Her position as a Prevention Program Officer at a well-known non-governmental organization (NGO) allowed her to organize groups of young women and call out contraception as dangerous. Her grandmother, a trusted figure in her life, had told her that contraception made women infertile.
Then, an encounter with our team changed everything. An MSI outreach team planned to provide services at the health post near Christy’s community. When she heard about the outreach day, Christy decided to visit the site to challenge the outreach team and discourage people from accepting services. But before she unleashed mayhem, Christy decided to listen to the general health talk and counseling session.
To her surprise, the outreach team helped her realize that much of the information she had been given was incorrect. Looking for more answers, she went to visit an MSI office and spoke with an outreach worker, who answered all of Christy’s questions and helped solidify a different narrative in her mind.
Ultimately Christy started using contraception from MSI herself—but she has also become a family planning advocate. She now works full time for MSI Nigeria and shows all of her clients her implant to prove that she’s practicing what she preaches.
Giving from Donor Advised Funds
As a registered 501(c)(3), MSI US can accept donations from Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). DAFs are an easy, flexible, and tax-efficient way to house your philanthropic dollars and support your favorite causes.
If you are interested in setting up a DAF for the first time, we recommend contacting your local community foundation or another independent sponsoring organization (like Fidelity, Schwab or Vanguard, to name a few).
For those who already have established a DAF, you can find us on a list of eligible organizations through your DAF provider or use DAF Direct from our website. To learn more about giving through DAFs, please contact Lee Deadwyler at firstname.lastname@example.org.