As Mother’s Day approaches, I pause to give thanks for my two teenagers. In this pause, too, come other feelings and images, as I remember the mothers and babies I recently met in Namibia.
My son, Benjamin, and I travelled to the Democratic Resettlement Community (DRC) – a temporary settlement of about 10,000 people outside of Swakopmund, Namibia.
As we flew over vast desert and caught our first glimpses of the area, I thought it was beautiful to look at but must be harsh to live in. I was looking forward to observing the C2C clinic, which has been working in partnership with the Namibian Ministry of Health for the last two years. The clinic is part of the Ministry’s outreach program aimed at reducing the country’s stubbornly high maternal and infant mortality rates.
Thousands of families have moved from rural areas in this enormous, but sparsely populated country to find work in larger cities like Swakopmund. They end up living in vast stretches of temporary slum dwellings constructed of cardboard and scrap metal. These communities stretch for miles, housing poor families. Very few houses have electricity, heat or running water. Jobs are scarce and the weather is harsh.
As a mother, my primal need to keep my children healthy, well fed and safe would be very challenged here. Before the C2C clinic opened, a pregnant woman in the DRC had to walk several miles to access health care. She would lose a day of work, travel with other small children and wait for many hours to be seen. Now, she travels far less distance and knows that she will be treated quickly and receive all of her antenatal care, including vitamins and blood tests (including HIV and TB). Local nurses who speak her language will greet her. She will participate in health education sessions focusing on nutrition, self-care, and signs of danger in pregnancy.
As I reflect on Mother’s Day, I think how easy it might be to take a safe home, high-quality health care, nutritious food, and a million other things for granted. I think of the mothers worldwide whose lives look very different from ours. I am proud to be part of a wonderful organization like C2C that is meeting the health needs of a very vulnerable community of women whose greatest wish is also mine – healthy, happy children.
As you think of your mother – or your children – next weekend, please consider making a gift to the women and children C2C serves. You can:
- Make a gift to C2C in honor of your mother or other special women in your life. We will send each honoree a special card in the mail notifying her of your gift.
- Volunteer in our office. Help us with fundraising, filing, communications, or in a capacity that takes advantage of your skills.
- Tell a friend about C2C – send him or her our video and share why C2C is important to you.
- Buy tickets to C2C’s June 13th Selebrasyon – and bring your mom!