Not only has IndieGoGo.com extended the time frame for the "Help Save Lakota Babies' Lives" campaign, it has added the movement to the website’s landing page for health causes. On February 5, it also graced the IndieGoGo homepage, and continues to do so on a rotational basis.
“For the campaign to land on the homepage is a very big deal indeed,” Kitty Farmer, executive director of the Lakota Health Start Building Campaign, wrote to Indian Country Today Media Network in an email. “It places it ahead of 50,000+ other campaigns—so before thousands and thousands of eyes that might not otherwise see it. We're also on the front page of the ‘health section,’ which is 214 pages, so that too is a major triumph.”
The Lakota Healthy Start Program aims to drastically reduce the death of babies on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the infant mortality rate is 300 percent higher than the national average. “Moms face racism, poverty and psychological challenges,” the campaign states.
The "Help Save Lakota Babies' Lives" campaign seeks to raise funds for a permanent home for Lakota Healthy Start on the South Dakota-based reservation. The program has encountered numerous problems with securing a location. In December 2011, it lost its first office due to high levels of asbestos. Then it was placed in a mold-infested trailer with holes. When that situation proved unacceptable, the program moved into the storage room behind a video store. Recently, the Indian Health Service (IHS) deemed the room unfit due to the threat of the Hanta Virus.
Refusing to give up, Farmer began making her plea. “We’re crowd-sourcing to raise money for a new, sustainable, ‘off-the-grid’ building that will be located on five beautiful acres and last for a very long time,” she wrote in an email solicitation to friends and colleagues.
The Dahlin Group, an architectural firm with offices throughout California and China, has signed on to build the permanent home. The firm has agreed to work with Henry Red Cloud, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), to develop to the new building to house Lakota Healthy Start. LSE is a Native-owned renewable-energy company created in 2006 by Red Cloud with nonprofit partner Trees, Water & People. It is dedicated to reducing pollution and fostering a sustainable lifestyle using modern-day technology and traditional Lakota values.
The construction process will also create employment opportunities in Pine Ridge. The companies plan to give hiring preference and training to Lakota members.
While the "Help Save Lakota Babies' Lives" campaign is raising money for a building, Farmer also has a bigger mission. "We're attempting to raise awareness of the issues facing the poorer tribes," she said.
The campaign was originally scheduled to end on January 26, but malfunctions on the IndieGoGo website made it difficult for some donors to process their payments through PayPal. The system has now been repaired, and IndieGoGo started featuring the cause again on February 1; it is scheduled to end February 21. After that, the Lakota Healthy Start Building Campaign will continue accepting donations through their fiscal sponsor, the National Indian Youth Leadership Project, a 501(c)(3).
Farmer hopes to raise $25,650 for the new building, where the Lakota Healthy Start team can continue working to achieve change by providing emotional care, nutrition, education and Lakota values to young at-risk moms and their newborns and children.
“[Nearly] every young mom who goes into Healthy Start tests off the scale for depression,” Farmer explained. “After we get the building built, it's my dream to 638 the program [P.L. 93-638 authorizes Indian Tribes and organizations to contract and operate federal service programs within the Bureau of Indian Affairs and IHS], and have full-time mental health professionals, and a nurse practitioner on board. I also want to provide educational training in collaboration with the Oglala Lakota Tribal College so that the young moms can become ‘peer counselors,’ and go into the field and talk to their younger peers about not getting pregnant as a teen, doing drugs, partner abuse, on and on and on….”
Donate to the cause at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-save-lakota-babies-lives.