Sierra Leone should be one of the most prosperous countries in West Africa, with its diamonds, iron ore and bauxite reserves. Yet, the vast majority of its people live in grinding poverty, and the country has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world. On health, though, it is making progress.
People around the world know that education is the key to a better life. Voters from over 190 countries who responded to the United Nations My World survey said providing a good education for all was the best way to build a better world. There's a huge gap between that goal and reality, however: 250million children are still being denied a chance to learn the basics.
While following news on the royal birth, I started to think about the mothers whom I have met in the developing world. Every mother I've met has shared stories: happy stories of joyful babies, tough stories of having little to eat while pregnant or walking for miles to reach a hospital while in labour.
Over the years we have seen a lot of good, bad and ugly promises, campaigns and programmes. Some, such as increasing child vaccinations, have been very successful. But in the run up to the finish line for the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, we see that we are still way off key targets for women and children.
I am witnessing a monthly meeting by the Chandrajarkie village women's group, which is organised and monitored by the village women. I'm here because I want to understand how the group has achieved a public health and social breakthrough: a massive reduction in neonatal mortality, and a huge step forward in the self-confidence of women.