Field stories

Amarech Benki smAmarech Benki is a 37 year-old BenaTsemay woman and the mother of nine children. Her two oldest children are married and her youngest is 18 months old.

Prior participating in GTLI’s Reproductive Health project, Amarech had no understanding of basic sanitation and hygiene. She now feels strongly that she could have prevented the death of one of her children with the understanding that she now has of healthy hygiene and sanitation behavior. She has become a strong advocate of pit latrine usage, hand washing, and clean compounds. Amarech wants to help her community.

“A friend and I regularly visit households on Sundays to check and see who is using their pit latrine and if it needs maintenance. We identified two households that were not using their latrines and told them they had to use them. The families said, “No!” We told them that when they defecate on the ground during the rainy season their feces gets into our water well, and we all get sick. We gave them a choice – start using their latrines or we were going to report them to the whole community!”

Amarech is happy that she and her family now have more to eat. Before participating in the program, her family’s diet consisted of maize and occasional meat when her husband’s wild animal hunt was successful. As part of this GTLI program she received four chickens when she graduated from Integrated Functional Vocational Literacy school (IFVL). She learned well, and she now has 30 chickens. She sold one chicken recently for funds to purchase an exercise book for her son. She has also given 20 eggs to five households to help them start raising chickens. Her husband received vegetable seeds and agricultural tools when he graduated from IFVL. Their family’s diet now consists of eggs, sweet potatoes, vegetables, chickens, and meat, which they buy with their egg money.

Women in Amarech’s community usually have at least 10 children. She and her husband decided that in order to make their family happy and healthy she needed to use Family Planning. They agreed that Depo was the best option for them and so Amarech, a fearless pioneer, became a new acceptor of modern contraceptives.

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Marti MartindaleField stories

GTLI Presents at ICFP Conference

Lori Pappas, GTLI Founder and Executive Director, was thrilled to share results from GTLI family planning initiatives at the fourth International Conference on Family Planning that took place in January in Nusa Dua, Indonesia. The conference drew researchers, implementers, policymakers, advocates, and representatives of local and international organizations.

Lori Pappas at 4th annual ICFP conference

Lori Pappas at 4th annual ICFP conference presenting results of GTLI family planning initiatives

After her presentation Lori said, “The ICFP conference gave me an excellent opportunity to share our experiences and learn from other organizations striving to help the vulnerable poor have healthier families. Since it is an international conference, we were exposed to best practices from all over the world. And it was a great chance to meet face-to-face with our key Family Planning/Reproductive Health implementing partner, JSI.”

Lori really enjoyed hanging out with people striving to make the world a healthier place, particularly for women and children.

For more about the ICFP, visit the conference website.

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Marti MartindaleGTLI Presents at ICFP Conference

GLTI Presents at APHA Meeting

apha-logoLori Pappas participated in the 143rd APHA Annual Meeting October 31st through November 2nd, 2015 in Chicago. Lori presented on a panel looking at the importance of community involvement for health outcomes.

Lori shared GTLI’s experience working with the Dasenech and BenaTsemay women in Southwest Ethiopia. She highlighted the importance of educating and empowering women in order to elevate their status within their communities. The goal of GTLI’s holistic integrated approach was to blend traditional wisdom with modern thinking, transforming the cultural belief that large families equate to wealth into healthy families equate wealth.

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Marti MartindaleGLTI Presents at APHA Meeting

UN Adopts New Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals_E_Final data-lazy-sizes

At the end of September, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and a set of bold new Sustainable Development Goals, which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed as a transformative vision for a better world.  Click on the graphic above to read more about the goals that drive our work at GTLI.


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Marti MartindaleUN Adopts New Sustainable Development Goals

GTLI Presenting at PHE Conference in Kisumu, Kenya


PHE ConferenceGTLI Executive Director Lori Pappas is presenting at the Population, Health and Environment (PHE) Regional Conference September 9-10, 2015 at the Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu Kenya.

Her paper, titled Integration + Innovation Transformed Adverse Gender and Cultural Norms, highlights the GTLI family planning and reproductive health initiative in the BenaTsemay and Dasenech communities. This innovative approach transformed the cultural belief that large families mean wealth into healthy families mean wealth, by leveraging their traditional desire to have enough children to work. Read more here.

Hosted by the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) in collaboration with the East African Community (EAC) Secretariat, EAC Partner States, National PHE Networks, PHE Ethiopia Consortium and PHE Madagascar Network, the conference is intended to increase the awareness of and support for integrated solutions to population and environmental challenges in Africa.

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Marti MartindaleGTLI Presenting at PHE Conference in Kisumu, Kenya

Innovation…with donkeys?

One of our latest innovations is creating a lot of buzz: donkey ambulances! These “donkulances” (so named by GTLI friend and supporter Dr. William Himango) are specially constructed metal carts designed to transport pregnant mothers. They are outfitted with a canvas top, removable litter and mattress, and animal-friendly harasses. Slow and unconventional? Yes, but they are community-owned and community-operated and are always available. Previously a pregnant mother would either have to be carried by litter or walk one or two days to the nearest health facility.

GTLI Donkey Ambulance

GTLI Donkey Ambulance


We first introduced donkey ambulances in Dasenech, and after a few months the results are encouraging.

  • A trip made by a donkey ambulance can turn a multiple day walk into a six hour ride.
  • Within the first two weeks, pregnant Dasenech used the donkey ambulances seven times.
  • Patients pay what they can for the service, usually 5¢ to 20¢, which is used for donkey care.

Community acceptance of the donkey ambulances has been even better than expected. The Dasenech communities love the freedom and ease of transportation the donkey ambulances provide, allowing them far easier access to government health facilities.

As a community member states:

We like the donkey ambulance, which is why we constructed and prepared the village roads by hand. Before the donkey ambulance, we had to pay more than 2,000 birr in cows and goats to transport a patient or pregnant women to the health center. Now our community has decided each transported person must pay 50 birr. Thank you, GTLI (and APC) for saving our life and money.


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Marti MartindaleInnovation…with donkeys?

JSI blog features GTLI

In a recent blog post, JSI describes our work to empower communities to create their own healthy futures, supported by USAID’s Advancing Partners & Communities project.

There are many reasons that the communities of southwest Ethiopia do not have access to and use family planning and reproductive health services. We are working with our implementing partner JSI to address both the supply and demand sides of this issue with our project Increasing Pastoralist Resilience through Healthy Timing & Spacing of Births.

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Marti MartindaleJSI blog features GTLI