Olivia Kral Perry, CLC, is a Mississippi WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor and mom of two. She was nominated by her team member at MS WIC who described her as having “true passion for the incomparable value of breastmilk, and a compassionate heart towards serving mommas and meeting their needs, where they are.”
In her role as Breastfeeding Peer Counselor III, Olivia provides moms with breastfeeding information and support throughout their pregnancy and postpartum. She also runs a lactation page on Facebook where she answers lactation questions and provides help to moms around the world. “I offer to help moms who are not on WIC through Facebook because the more babies we can get breastfed, the better our public health would be. I am trying to help as many moms as possible to breastfeed successfully” – Olivia Kral Perry
Olivia enjoys being able to offer moms new breastfeeding information and being able to help moms who are the first in their family to breastfeed to have a successful breastfeeding journey, so they can share that experience with their family members. When asked what motivates her work, Olivia shared that she is motivated by her experience breastfeeding both of her children. “I am the biggest advocate for breastfeeding babies in the NICU because both of mine were born preterm. I struggled to keep supply up with my first born and he had a lot of issues on formula. So, with my second child I was determined to keep my supply up and I ended up breastfeeding her for 18 months. She is now the healthier of my two kids. I am very passionate about helping NICU moms to keep up their breast milk supply and successfully breastfeed their babies.”
Congratulations Olivia, thank you for your passionate and compassionate service to breastfeeding moms in the Mississippi Delta!
Glocal Roots is an international organization that helps people with refugee backgrounds to, once again, become autonomous, independent, and self-reliant members of society. They were nominated for their wonderful work with mothers and babies and the support that their “We are One” Center provides to women at the Samos refugee camp, Greece.
Founded in December 2017, this small, but efficient grassroots organization is led by a team of highly skilled professionals and run by dedicated volunteers who are committed to achieving positive change in the world. Their work in Greece focuses on providing resilience resources such as safe spaces, women’s circles, computer lab, workshops for war rape survivors, and sexual violence related advocacy.
Glocal Roots’ We are One Center is a safe space for women to get away from the camp and to develop the connections and strong support networks they need to deal with trauma and find confidence in themselves again. Furthermore, Glocal Roots uses a combination of digital and in class curriculum to provide comprehensive education to women living in refugee camps, and to prepare them for future employment certification, community, and skill building. Under normal circumstances, the center is visited by 300+ mothers and babies a day, who come seeking support, a sense of normalcy, or a break from staying in stressful and insecure environments.
The COVID-19 lockdown further highlighted the need for such safe spaces for women who live in the camp. Liska Bernet (Founder and Director of Glocal Roots, Greece) explains how the COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the organization’s work. “During the lockdown we had to close our center and find new ways to support women who live in the camp,” she shares. “Women have reported that the lockdown has had quite a severe impact on their daily lives. They have reported that harassment and domestic violence in the camp increased during the lockdown and that they did not leave their tent unless they really had to. This, of course had a negative impact on the mental health of many women.”
The good news is that the center has now reopened and they have resumed providing essential support services for women, albeit in a limited capacity due to social distancing measures. “Glocal Roots is pleased to share that we have also added weekly family planning workshops as well as prenatal care workshops and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) workshops in partnership with MSF,” Liska says!
In the past, Glocal Roots has partnered with CHEERing to provide trainings on safe breastfeeding and to get insights on how best to support pregnant women at their center.
Congratulations Glocal Roots, we thank you for your commitment to supporting women and children in refugee camps and providing avenues for them to uplift one another!
In celebration of his life and in honor of his legacy, this week’s CHEER CHAMPion is Dr. Jerome Klein, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and former Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Boston Medical Center. Dr. Klein was an internationally renowned leader in pediatric infectious diseases, professor, and researcher, who was well-known throughout BMC as a mentor and role model for generations of physicians.
Dr. Klein’s career spanned over 50 years in patient care, research and teaching at Boston Medical Center. His many honors include the Bristol Award for Distinguished Achievement of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Maxwell Finland Award for Scientific Achievement from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. He was passionate about big band music, jazz, theater, Boston sports teams and spending time with his family at his home on Wingaersheek Beach.
Dr. Klein passed away on February 17, 2021 and he will be fondly remembered in the hearts of many BMC staff for his support, mentorship, and leadership. His legacy of medical and scholarly excellence and leadership at BMC will be remembered through the annual Jerome Klein Award for Physician Excellence, established in 2011.
Link to Dr. Klein's obituary here
This week’s CHAMPion is Ms. Alaura Rhea, a mother of two and employee of Franklin Corporation in East Mississippi. Alaura was nominated by her WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor, for her determination to overcome breastfeeding difficulties and to manage pumping while at work.
“When I had my first daughter at 17, I did not look into the benefits of breastfeeding. But when I had my son last November, I knew breastfeeding was what I wanted to do. I had many people tell me that I would not be able to breastfeed, but with COVID going around, you want to be able to give your baby the best protection and that’s breast milk!”- Alaura Rhea
Even though Alaura’s breastfeeding journey has been far from easy, she describes it as one of the best experiences of her life. Alaura shared the beauty of the bonding experienced through breastfeeding, the benefits for her health, and the hardships she faced when her baby was born, including her challenges with breastfeeding in public. “I started thinking that I wanted to give up because my nipples were so sore, but my lactation consultant showed me various positions to help with an easier latch, “ Alaura said. “The benefits of the breastfeeding is one of the reasons that I don’t give up, but also to prove that you could be a working mom of multiple kids and still make it work. Not only am I nourishing my kid from my body but I also get the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing it no matter what anybody says. I feel much closer to my child than the last time and the postpartum depression is not as bad.”
Furthermore, Alaura has established a routine of pumping at work despite her tight schedule and initial difficulties. “I get really busy at work, so it is really hard to pump and I end up taking three breaks to pump. It was hard at first but it’s been smooth sailing once I got the hang of it.”
Alaura also shared some words of encouragement for other breastfeeding moms. “When you feel like you want to give up, don’t. The first two weeks would be the hardest but keep going. It gets better. Breastfeeding has been the best experience of my life, it’s hard but worth it. And don’t be ashamed to breastfeed in front of anyone.”
Congratulations Alaura, we applaud your commitment and wish you the best with the rest of your breastfeeding journey!
CHEER Champion of the week
Each Monday (besides public holidays), we will recognize a CHEER Champion for all the support they have provided for CHEER, CHAMPS, or the general public.