Mothers and Children – The Same Story All Over the World
By Esther Cohen
When my husband and I bought our home, our children were very small. We had a three year old and an infant, and their health and safety were our primary concerns as we looked at houses, communities and schools. Among the many attractions of our soon-to-be-new-home was the fenced-in yard. "How glorious," we thought, "after years of city living we would be able to safely send our children out to play in our own yard." No more worrying about traffic, crowded parks or sketchy playground equipment.
Of course, our delight was short-lived. Within the first week of moving, a neighborhood six year old came over to check out the new family, and proceeded to show our son how to get out of the yard – through the hedge and under the fence (apparently, exactly how the children of the former owners had escaped from home on a regular basis). The fence was mended, the hole filled in, and despite this temporary setback, it wasn’t the last time that this mother tried hard to protect her babes.
Mothers and children – it’s the same story all over the world.
I have just returned from a visit to our programs in northern Ghana, where we partner with ADDRO (the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization). I had the privilege of speaking with women in different rural communities who participate in agriculture, income generation and microfinance programs. These women work hard for a living: farming small plots of land; tending goats, sheep and pigs; running small businesses. The goals of the ADDRO program are to teach agricultural techniques; to improve productivity and increase crop yields; improve the participants’ business skills; to provide them with small loans to start or expand businesses; and, in our innovative donkey plow program, provide women with the means to acquire a donkey, plow and cart, in order to decrease labor and increase income.
But when I asked these women why they were participating in these programs, the answer was always the same. They didn’t discuss crop yields, or microfinance. They talked about how they wanted to feed their families, ensure better nutrition and health for their children, to pay school fees. They want to invest in their farms and their communities, in order to provide a healthy and safe environment for their young ones. In short, they want exactly what I wanted for my family, oh so long ago.
My children are now adults, and although I long ago abandoned my illusion of control over their well-being, I will never stop worrying about them, and never stop working for their health and happiness. And I know a few mothers in Ghana who, I suspect, feel the same way.
So, to mothers everywhere (and grandmothers, and aunts, and caregivers, and all those who worry about their children), I wish you a happy and blessed Mother’s Day.
Esther Cohen is the Chief Operating Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.
Images: Mothers and their children from China, Samadi, Ghana, and El Salvador.