Siobhan Neilland is a woman of extraordinary strength, courage and passion, who took a negative and turned it into a positive, touching countless lives along the way.
Her desire to create “joy” as she puts it, for others, came from her darkest of days — Siobhan lost her own baby in 2006 and as a result, suffered severe postpartum.
“I knew I needed a change,” she says. “I had this beautiful, incredible life but I couldn’t really feel or appreciate it. I went to Uganda to heal myself and do some service for those who had it worse than me. I wanted to heal my heart. It was through this journey that I met Mama Jamira, the traditional midwife who inspired the OneMama vision: a world in which every baby is born into this world knowing they are loved and matter. A project that started with delivering birthing kits to Mama Jamira in Uganda has expanded into the OneMama.org that you see today. To fund ourselves and provide vocational training for people in the village, I created The OneMama Collection, a clothing and accessories line made by members of the OneMama community that donates 100% of proceeds to OneMama.org. I also founded ShaBoom Products, an all-natural mineral makeup line that donates up to 40% of proceeds to OneMama. I want people to become part of this movement, and know they can look and feel great while harnessing their purchasing power to create global, social change.”
In its early inception in 2008, OneMama’s focus was solely on midwifery, but 8 years later, the organization has now branched into a three-tiered model that incorporates a birthing clinic, medical clinic, and community center with an economic sustainability program.
“We’re now focusing on being a voice and fighting for the joy individuals from disempowered communities who are underrepresented in global conversations,” Siobhan explains. “Our programs also reflect that. The vision we have for the future is still to ensure every baby is born into this world knowing they are loved and matter. Now, we are providing resources for those babies to grow up in a world where their voices and stories are celebrated, and make a difference. We are fighting for our own joy, the joy of others, and in doing so magnifying the joy on our planet.”
OneMama has provided maternal health services for mothers, babies, and families for 8 years now and hosted a United Nations event at the UN Women Commission on the Status of Women, discussing sustainable funding alternatives for nonprofit organizations
The beginnings, however, were far from the New York headquarters of the UN.
“We started working from a mud hut without any running water and electricity to now having a multi-building clinic facility, community center, three-person medical staff, and are the only certified health center authorized to use natural medicine techniques alongside western medicine.,” she recalls. “We now provide complete medical care, HIV testing and treatment, malaria testing and treatment, and family planning.
“We have expanded our programs to incorporate issues facing the women of our communities. Our most recent initiative focuses on domestic violence and violence against women in Uganda.
We now see our community changing their behavior around these issues.
“Women now have more power over their finances from our economic sustainability program, and are supporting themselves and their families, while gaining more of a voice in their households.
“We’ve also now tripled the income of people in our village, and created an infrastructure of empowerment in our community.”
But that’s just the start — the larger goal for OneMama.org is to build 250 clinics all over the world to provide services for the 3 billion people on the planet surviving on under $2.50 a day.
With the organization achieving goals well beyond their initial dreams, for Siobhan, there have been standout moments in the creation of this movement.
She says: “In the last 2 years we’ve really focused on giving women of our OneMama community and communities around the world a voice. We’re using our participation in New York Fashion Week and the United Nations—two very different events in two completely different sectors—to address issues occurring on-the-ground in impoverished areas. One particular highlight occurred at the UN Women Commission on the Status of Women. Before going to the UN, we hosted a community meeting at The OneMama Clinic in Uganda to discuss the issues facing women. Out of this meeting, women of our community identified land rights for women as an area of concern they wanted addressed at the United Nations. While serving delegate at the African Caucus at the United Nations, I shared the issue of land rights as a major concern in the OneMama village, and many other delegates shared that this, too, had been a recurring issue in the regions they represented. The caucus culminated in voting on the three issues that would be the focus points of the United Nations Declaration… and land rights was chosen. Delivering this news to the women in Uganda was incredible. They couldn’t believe their idea were presented on such a global stage—and chosen to be put into action in policy. We are creating change on-the-ground in these countries, and blending empowerment and policy in a unique way to do so!”
For Siobhan, Kindness & Hope means, joy!
“If you know me well, you know my word is JOY,” she says. “I think kindness and hope both encompass the joy I want to share and magnify in this world through my personal life, and the work I do with OneMama. Kindness is about showing people they are loved and matter. Hope to me is about empowering people to find joy within themselves to create a positive impact. With kindness, hope, and joy we can lead by example in how we show up as the best version of ourselves—moment to moment.”
To learn more about OneMama and donate, click here,