The NURU Foundation is primarily committed to helping disadvantaged mothers and young children in Tanzania. Their aim is to guarantee that mothers are given comprehensive medical and psychological care during pregnancy, childbirth and after delivery. The foundation is a self-help project for local mothers, and is run by Milena Schaller and Edward Komu.
The NURU foundation, which means “light” in Swahili, was founded by Milena Schaller in June 2014. During a two-month internship in a maternity ward in a hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Milena experienced boundless poverty. Countless children died during pregnancy or shortly after birth. The reasons for this are: poor hygienic conditions, a lack of medical facilities, illnesses or the effects of malnutrition during pregnancy, etc. Mothers are also often fatalities before, during or after the birth process. Very often the affected mothers cannot afford hospitalization and give birth to their children at home, within their local village. They give birth in unhygienic surroundings, they have no medical care, and often die of blood loss. The children who have lost their mother find themselves in an almost hopeless situation.
Milena met three-month-old Nuru during an internship in a children’s home where 81 children grow up in a confined space under indescribable circumstances. Nuru’s mother died during childbirth, there was no trace of her father. Shortly after Nuru’s arrival at the children’s home she fell seriously ill with an inflammation of the middle ear. Pus ran out of her ears and she was only breathing very superficially. For Milena it was clear: this child urgently needed medical help. However, the director of the children’s home did not allow Milena to bring Nuru to the hospital, as an official permit was required to take a child away from the children’s home premises. It remained unclear who should grant this authorization and when it would arrive. Milena made the decision to kidnap Nuru from the children’s home to ensure her survival. Nuru received the medical help she needed at the nearby hospital. With the prescribed medication and a lot of attention from Milena, Nuru recovered from her illness and soon became the girl with the big, shining eyes and the infinitely strong will to live again!
Milena’s internship was over and she left Tanzania. The feeling of not knowing how Nuru was and how she would develop was hard for Milena to bear. Milena asked the manager of the Children’s home for immediate notification if Nuru’s health deteriorated, and promised to send money to pay for medical treatment if necessary. Less than a month later, and during Christmas of all times, Milena received the devastating news that Nuru had died.
The experience of this terrible injustice moved Milena to establish the Nuru Foundation. Her desire is to see children and mothers, irrespective of where they are born to live. That mothers are allowed to give birth with dignity, that they have the right to a medically assisted pregnancy and birth. Milena Schaller is training as a midwife at the University of Applied Sciences for Health in Bern, Switzerland. In addition to her studies, she is also involved with the NURU Foundation. Milena lives in Freiburg and travels as often as possible to her second home, Tanzania.