What if mothers each taught ten others?
June 8, 2011 Dear Friend, People are the best part of my job. Witnessing the resilience and courage of families and international Food for the Hungry (FH) staff is what fuels me. Often I have the privilege of following up with families on return visits to communities where we work. Such was the case on a recent trip I took to Burundi. The previous year I had delivered a few letters to sponsored children including a young boy that my wife and I sponsor named Leonce. During that visit, I learned that Leonce’s mother recently survived a miscarriage. FH Burundi staff had encouraged her to receive the medical care she needed just in time. Leonce, his three siblings and his father were so relieved. So this trip I made an effort to see Leonce and his family again. I remember it was grey and misty and that the mud had significantly slowed our travel. Finally, the truck slid to a stop and I spotted his shy smile. Leonce and I sat together on the bumper of the weathered vehicle and I listened as he told me about school and soccer. Then I asked about his family. Silence. The staff had sent me a note but I hadn’t gotten it in time. Leonce’s mother and her fifth child both died during labour. I can still feel the knot tighten in my throat. I wish I could tell you that this is an exception, a rarity. But the fact that it isn’t makes it all the more tragic. That same week, while visiting a clinic, nurses whispered to me as I passed a tearful young mom clutching her newborn. During a home birth, a dirty knife had been used to cut the umbilical cord, and the infection was spreading.
LEONCE AND HIS FAMILY, 2010
BEN AND LEONCE
I wish I could tell you I don’t get overwhelmed. But this is what propels me forward – our mission to walk alongside the most vulnerable, believing there can be an end to loss, despair and poverty. One way we are pursuing this task is by investing into mothers. FH is empowering women around the world to make educated decisions about their health and the health of their families. Volunteer “Leader Mothers” are trained to teach, serve and promote health and wellness to others in their communities, especially to pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of two, where the burden of illness is the greatest. The Leader Mothers each train at least 10 women who agree to train 10 more until the knowledge has rippled out to the entire community. One by one, women are recognizing strengths and resources they didn’t even know they had. The results in just a few months alone are incredible: • Leader Mothers in Cachiman, Haiti stopped a cholera epidemic in its tracks by training mothers to make oral re-hydration solution and hand-washing stations • Mothers in Uganda saw the percentage of their children suffering from diarrhea drop from 35% to 3% after teaching on the impact of consistent hand washing • 15 female-headed savings groups in Cambodia each received matching funds from FH by reaching $150 in personal savings • 20 mothers in Guatemala learned how to make candles and now have consistent income with which to care for their children • 187 mothers in Ethiopia improved their families’ diets by learning how to preserve maximum nutrients while cooking vegetables It’s working. Poverty is being overcome by these women who are transforming the health of their homes and communities. But I need your help to ensure we can continue teaching women these life-saving lessons. I recognize your sacrifice and want to affirm that your gift of supporting training for even one woman will eventually change an entire community. Your partnership deeply encourages me as we work each day to achieve a huge vision. I have to believe that someday soon young boys like Leonce won’t have to lose their mothers in preventable birthing complications. I see hope. Poverty is ending one mother at a time. One family at a time. One community at a time.
The cost to train one Leader Mother is approximately $125. FH Canada’s goal is to train 600 Leader Mothers in Haiti, 40 in Guatemala and 40 in Peru.
Will you help us reach this goal? Ben Hoogendoorn FH Canada President & CEO P.S. At a time when every investment matters more than ever, your gift supporting even one woman overseas will impact an entire community! To see the impact of Leader Mothers around the world, visit www.fhcanada.org/leadermother.