By Simon Majumdar
As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s a good time to think not only about our own mothers, but about mothers everywhere, and the devotion they show in often terrifying circumstances to protect their families.
I lost my own mother to cancer in 2004, and not a day goes by without me thinking of how dedicated she was to my three siblings and I, how she held us to the highest standards of behavior, and how she supported us unflinchingly in whatever choices we made as we grew from children to the men and women we are today.
Although we lost her from our lives far too early, I know we were among the lucky ones. There was never a time when my mother had to worry if there was going to be enough food on the table to feed our ravenous appetites, and there was never a time when she spent sleepless nights fearing that her children might be abducted or worse.
As I have found out through my work with Convoy of Hope, many women are not so fortunate. I’ve heard far too many stories of mothers having to go without food for themselves to make sure there’s enough to feed their children. And, I have heard genuinely horrifying stories of mothers having to tie themselves to their children with rope to prevent them from being kidnapped at night. Although these tales are heartbreaking to say the least, there are also many stories of hope, joy, and success, and that’s where Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment program comes in.
On a recent visit to Tanzania, we met many women whose lives have been transformed both by their own determination and by the strategies and tools they were given by the local teams in their area. The story of one woman in particular, Mama Gift, has stayed with me, perhaps because her way of advancement was using food.
Mama Gift had originally been a maid in an Indian household. Although life was tough, she had learned the skill of making exceptional Indian flatbreads such as roti. Using the entrepreneurial skills she had access to through Convoy’s programming, she opened her own business selling fresh roti to her local community. She was successful enough to lease secure accommodation behind her small space, in which she now lives in security with her young son.
The joy she displayed in her roti making skills reminded me of my own mother, an enthusiastic and talented Indian cook in her own right. Mama Gift’s pride in the safety she was able to offer her son, and his success at school, was a reminder that whatever their circumstances, a mother’s dedication to her family is universal.
So, let’s take a moment to thank mothers everywhere, and to thank the local Women’s Empowerment teams for the guidance and support they offer women across the globe as they strive to protect and nourish their families — often in circumstances that we could not even imagine.