This ain’t no Mary Poppins
Tears soaked my shirt as I sat glued to the screen while watching Suffragette (the movie) last night. I sat uncomfortably in a mixture of shock, horror, and admiration to see a glimpse of what women have gone through to fight for the right to vote. I suppose I knew some of the stories, but being given vivid visuals (complete with good dialogue and compelling background music) is something altogether different. This was no dance around the living room with cute little sashes like the Mary Poppins version I had consumed as a child.
As I watched the story unfold, I was transported into the shoes (and prison cells) of my sisters from a century ago. I hope I’ll never pop my ballot into the box with the same carefree attitude again.
Although I sometimes still feel the disadvantages of being a women (it’s not totally an equal playing field just yet), I would be a fool not to recognize the privilege I have as a white woman born into this generation and lucky enough to live in the USA and Australia. I’ve seen enough of the world to know that my position of relative wealth and opportunity is still something that the majority of the world’s women only dream of.
The story of the Suffragettes, though a century ago, is still unfolding today as women and men all over the world fight and advocate and work for change for our sisters.
We’ve come a long way.
And yet we have a long way to go in seeing women released into their full potential.
Women empowering women
Since beginning my work with maternal health advocacy and birthing the Love A Mama Collective in 2011 (through our clean birth kit drives), I have been convinced a thousand times over that we are stronger when we link arms together and put our collective heart toward issues that really matter to girls and women. Although maternal health is only one such issue, I believe it’s where our work for girls and women must start. As we see women empowered and resourced to give birth more safely, then we can go on to work for their menstrual health, their education, domestic and workplace rights, voting rights, and so on and so forth (not always in that order of course).
This year for our Love A Mama Mother’s Day Drive we are rallying for moms in three different ways. Two of them are global opportunities and one is local—choose the one that engages your heart most:
1. Love A Mama Midwifery Scholarship
In continuation from last year, we would like to provide another year’s midwifery scholarship for our young nursing student, Jerina, in rural India. In her state there are only 18 obstetricians/gynecologists serving a population of 25 million people. IMAGINE. (That’s bigger than the entire population of Australia!)
Jerina has completed the first year of her degree and has entered the second (of four) years of training. Together we want to raise another $2000 to cover her year’s tuition, books, and board.
As Jerina completes her training, she will then be able to resource dozens (if not hundreds) of young mothers in her area, where there is currently no birth professional or medical facilities available. Upon graduation she will assist Sparrow International (our partners on the ground in India) with setting up their area’s first clinic/birthing center, and will serve not only as midwife, but as a community health educator.
“I am privileged to do this education. This season has given a new perspective to me. It is really a great opportunity to serve people. The subjects are challenging, but it is a great experience. I really enjoy working with the kids. Sometimes I find it difficult in theory classes, but, I have been doing well and I have achieved good marks each semesters. We also get opportunity to go for medical camps. So, we reach out villages and help the poor and needy.” —Jerina, recipient of the 2015 Love A Mama Midwifery Scholarship
If you can see the multiplying potential in this endeavor, please GIVE HERE toward Jerina’s midwifery scholarship. (Note: If you decide to make a donation in honor of your own mom or another special woman in your life, we will send you a printable Mother’s Day card to let her know about the gift given on her behalf. All the details can be found on the scholarship fundraising page.)
2. Clean Birth Kits
Over the last five years the Love A Mama Collective has rallied tens of thousands of clean birth kits to help women in rural environments have safer births. Many of these women have unattended births in environments you and I would never dream of. (I’ve personally seen the following birth scenarios—these are my own photos—during my work with YWAM in rural Papua New Guinea.)
Yes, these women are strong and resilient and doing what they’ve done for countless generations, but they’re also inadvertently placed in harms way due to a lack of access to basic health care facilities and services. Maternal death rates and infant mortality rates soar due to preventable infections that can be remedied with the simple, yet effective, elements of a clean birth kit. If you’d like to gather friends and make clean birth kits in honor of Mother’s Day, all the information you need for can be found here.
3. Love A Mama Local
As much as I have a passion to link arms with mothers in the developing world, the needs in our neighborhood are just as important. If you’d like to do something locally for another mom this Mother’s Day, I’d encourage you to use your imagination. Here are some ideas that we’ve done before:
- Call the local children’s ward at the hospital and ask if there are any long-term patients whose mother would appreciate flowers. Last time I enquired about this the nurses told me there were three and so we dropped off three bunches of flowers with notes that said something along the lines of: “Happy Mother’s Day. We’re thinking of you and praying for you as you sit by your child’s side. Sending love from one mom to another.”
- Buy a struggling or weary mom some encouragement for her soul in the form of a good book. Some recommended reads might be: Surprised by Motherhood (on sale for $2.99 on kindle the last I checked!), The Mother Letters (brand spanking new release by my girl Amber Haines!), Loving the Little Years, or even One Thousand Gifts (thought it’s not specific to motherhood).
- Offer to watch a single mom’s children for a few hours on the Saturday before Mother’s Day to give her a break and to take the children shopping to pick out a small gift for her.
- Give toward a friend’s adoption fund, send a foster mom a thoughtful care package, deliver flowers to a hopeful mom-in-waiting who’s undergoing IVF… Think of women who may need extra care this year: one who’s lost a mother, one who’s lost a child, one who’s grappling with a child’s new diagnosis, etc.
I could go on and on with ideas here but I want to leave it at that—hopefully just enough to get your creative juices flowing. If you decide to participate in our Mother’s Day Drive via the Love A Mama Local option, we would LOVE to hear your stories! If you’re comfortable posting on facebook or Instagram, please use the hashtag #loveamama to share how you’re taking Mother’s Day beyond yourself this year. Alternately, if you’d prefer to be private, then please email us at the Collective and let us know what local goodness you’re getting up to! We’d love to share your stories (anonymously if you wish) and spread the inspiration to other women.
Happy Mother’s Day, happy day
Friends, if you’re a mom reading this in the lead-up to Mother’s Day I wish you a wonderful celebration of your work and service and heart. May you be blessed with a clean house, beautiful flowers, and a lovely hand-drawn card. AND, may you and I both take a moment to consider how we might bless another mom this year as we do something beyond ourselves in honor of moms all over the world and across the street.
And one more thing before I sign off. No, two things! 1) We’ve just—and I mean JUST—launched a brand new facebook group this morning to connect and collaborate with other women interested in girls and women’s issues. Please join our shiny new facebook group if this sounds exciting to you. 2) You can also sign up directly to the Love A Mama Collective mailing list to receive updates (no more than four per year, tops).
With love and gratitude for this incredible community,
Adriel & the Love A Mama Collective team (and of course my adorable little family, too!)
Don’t forget! If you donate toward the Love A Mama Midwifery Scholarship Fund, please let us know so we can send you a printable Mother’s Day card in honor of the woman of your choosing. Instructions are on the donation page.
Please note: All photos of women and babies in this post have been taken with consent. These are copyrighted photos so please do not download or duplicate without written permission. The photo of my family is courtesy of Katherine Wilson Photography (see more here if you’d like) and the flower image source here.