Category Archives: Family

#MakeWomenMatter

#MakeWomenMatter

She would never tell her family. They could never know.

SAMSUNG CSC

I was amazed that the young woman was brave enough to tell her story at all.

With a teary smile she explained that she was telling us because she was just so happy that her life was not over as feared.  She was just so relieved to have found someone to help her.  The week before she had called her friend to say goodbye. Read the rest of this entry

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

This Past Week Was World Immunization Week & Why It Matters #VaccinesWork

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Our pediatrician explained that the reason the Whooping cough outbreak was happening with the 10, 11 & 12 year olds in our town was because it was right around the time those kids were due for their booster shots.  Pertussis, known as the Whooping cough for how it sounds, is highly contagious, and presents as a persisting cough in older children and adults, but it can be deadly to babies. Pregnant women at risk of exposure are advised to be vaccinated against it.  The outbreak in the schools in my town were just another reminder to me this year of how fortunate we are to have access to vaccines that protect our children from such harmful viruses.

Shot@Life Champion

The author advocating on capitol hill in 2013

As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I advocate for global vaccines year round, but seeing vaccine preventable diseases popping up so close to home this year reinforces my mission to spread awareness to other moms here and abroad.  Less than an hour from where we live there was also recently a measles outbreak.  In the year 2,000 measles had been declared eliminated from the US, but it’s back, and that is a scary thing for a parent.   Measles is a highly contagious disease, and in other areas of the world it is still one of the leading causes of death in young children.   According to the CDC the past two years have seen the largest measles outbreaks in the US since the year 2,000.  Communities choosing not to vaccinate are opening this country up to a resurgence of diseases that we have previously worked very hard to eliminate as risks for our children.

There are countries where vaccines are not widely available, as they are here, and mothers will walk for days with their children, and wait in long lines to get their kids vaccinated. Those mothers know first hand the deadly risk of not vaccinating their children, they see it every day. In fact every 20 seconds a child dies in this world unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease.  We are fortunate enough to have access to vaccines in this country to protect our children from most of these diseases, yet with that security comes complacency and the urgency to vaccinate gets lost on some.  What those parents need to realize is that their choice not to vaccinate their own child, unwittingly puts all other children at risk.   One case of measles can quickly spread to 20 to 40 more cases, and can be deadly to some.

It is not just about keeping our own children healthy; vaccines have proven to be the best investment in global health out there. By preventing disease through vaccinations governments can save billions of dollars on the otherwise repercussions of health care costs.  Healthy communities are more productive, which is good for the economy. A good economy prevents social unrest, which prevents global unrest. In other words, investing in vaccines and global health is in the best interest of us all, no matter where we live. Remember in this ever shrinking world every deadly virus is just one plane ride away.  That is why World Immunization Week matters to us all. My fellow Rhode Island Shot@Life Champion Lisa Davis and I visited Congressman Langevin’s office during #WorldImmunizationWeek to ask him to support global immunization programs.  You can let congress know how important funding global vaccines is to you and your family by contacting them here.

Langevin's office

Advocating at our congressional office in Rhode Island (Polio & measles are in our Congressman’s representative’s hands)

 

 

 

 

 

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day

A Way To #HonorYourMom This Mother’s Day
Mom

Photo of my sister-in-law, my mother, and me.

Mother’s Day  is coming up on May 11th, and I have to admit that it brings a tinge of  bitter-sweetness for me.  My own mother passed away just three months before I first became a mother myself, so of course I think of her, and miss her on that day of the year more than all others.    I say just a tinge though, because the bitter of  missing her is nearly obliterated by the sweet immense joy, chaos, and love my own four children bring to me each day.  Still, for that reason Mother’s Day is an emotional one for me.  As anyone who has lost a parent knows, it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how prepared you believed you were. It is an acutely felt loss, where the umbrella of the generation before you is closed, exposing you to the world in a new unsheltered way.  Granted I was an adult when she passed away, and so I am grateful for the thirty-three years of my life that I had her, I know how fortunate I am to have had that.

Children need their mother; they need their mother’s love and protection, the devotion above all else that only a mother gives.  I know I was blessed to have grown up with that, but I don’t think I knew how much I truly needed her until I gave birth to my own first child. Like most of us I had just lovingly taken for granted that she was there. Quite suddenly when I gave birth to my own daughter, I understood.  As a new mother I felt I needed her more than ever, really it was not that I needed her more, but that I wanted her more than ever.  It is impossible to register what your own mother went through with pregnancy, birthing, nursing, caring, and nurturing, the scope of physical, and emotional outpouring that motherhood demands, until you are in the midst of it yourself.

Photo by Michelle Amarante

With my own little people , Photo by Michelle Amarante

I can no longer express that gratitude to her in person, but I think, and hope that I did well enough when she was still alive. Instead I know that I can honor her by being the best possible mother that I can be to my own children. I try to pass on her legacy of love, and compassion.  That is why I think Samahope’s #HonorYourMom campaign resonates with me so deeply. It gives me the opportunity to honor my own mother while giving another mother the opportunity for her children to grow up under the umbrella of her love by providing a safe birth.  So if you are thinking about ways to #HonorYourMom that would be truly meaningful this Mother’s Day, check out the Samahope #HonorYourMom campaign page and see the beautiful tributes that have already been posted.  Here is how it works:

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1. Pick a photo of you & your Mom – Upload a childhood picture of you and Mom on the #HonorYourMom website, and write what makes her so amazing to you. (You can also add an Instagram video.)
2. Donate in your Mother’s Name – Make a donation to support safe births and life-changing medical treatments for other moms in need.
3. Your mother will get a gift she’ll cherish – A special dedication page is created for your mom, and she’ll get a personalized gift in the mail for Mother’s Day.

 

Those of us fortunate enough to know our mother’s love, and to be able to pass that on to our own children, can’t take those gifts for granted. Too many mothers still die in childbirth; too many children are forced to grow up without their mother.  This can often cause them to end up stuck in the cycle of extreme poverty. No mother should lose their own life-giving birth, and no child should have to grow up without their mother’s love. Samahope hopes to provide 1,000 safe births to mothers in need with the #HonorYourMom campaign. What better way to honor mothers everywhere this Mother’s Day.

 

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

Our Chance To Eliminate Toxic Chemicals From Everyday Products

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Sign this petition to #FightToxins in our products!

This is a sponsored post written in conjunction with a Seventh Generation awareness campaign about toxins in our everyday products, and how we can change that.  As always all opinions are my own.

I rummaged through my cabinets the other day grabbed all of the plastic cups my kids drink out of and all of those plastic take out food containers I was saving to re-use, and threw them into the recycling bin. In the car I had been listening to a report on NPR about the BPA safety controversy. First it was supposed to be dangerous, now “they” are saying it’s safe…..Any plastics I had purchased were supposedly BPA free to begin with, but on the radio experts said any plastic food containers may still contain harmful elements. One quote from the story impacted me in particular. The show host, referring to plastics, had said something like ” We speculate about what is causing the rise in cancer, and I wonder if the answer has not been right in front of us all along.”  I realized I had been following the various reports that BPA is harmful or not, but that comment on the radio made me re-think who I am counting to deliver the data. As a mom I decided it’s not worth the risk. These are my children, to companies they are just a statistic. It should not be that way, and we should be able to count on our government agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, to keep products on the market safe.

I have always been careful about the cleaning products that I use in my home, we have four kids, a dog, well water, and a septic tank. This puts us in delicate balance with our environment and it’s impact on our health.  Seventh Generation products are some of the ones I’ve been using for years to safely keep things clean. I’ve always liked the idea reflected in the company name, that what we do today lays the path for the next seven generations to come.  I am thrilled to support the companies’ efforts to help pass new reform on the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA, that would help the Environmental Protection Agency to take regulatory action against dangerous chemicals present in our everyday products currently on the market.  One of the problems is that the TSCA has not been changed since 1976. This has allowed companies to add chemicals to our products that are known to cause cancer or cause serious health side-effects.  Even worse there are more than 80,000 chemicals available in the United States that have never been fully tested for their toxic effects on our health and environment!

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Do you remember hearing about the toxic water contamination in Charleston, West Virginia not too long ago? One of the scariest things about the coverage on that story was that I kept hearing them say..”such and such chemical was also found but it’s safety has never been tested before so we can’t say if it is safe or not.” Yeesh, I thought, It would take me a long time to trust that water again! Exposure to toxic chemicals, even in small amounts has been scientifically linked to health risks like cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, and reproductive problems. Don’t you think that true meaningful chemical reform should be put in place to protect the most vulnerable among us; the kids, pregnant mothers, and communities directly exposed to these toxic chemicals? It should also require that the public has access to all information regarding chemical safety levels, allow states to protect their residents, and have the EPA take swift action within specific timetables. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

“For the 22,000 chemicals introduced since 1976, chemical manufacturers have provided little or no information to the EPA regarding their potential health or environmental impacts.

These chemicals are found in toys and other children’s products, cleaning and personal care items, furniture, electronics, food and beverage containers, building materials, fabrics, and car interiors.

Since 1976 scientists have linked exposure to toxic chemicals to many health risks. There is growing recognition in the scientific community that exposure to even low doses of certain chemicals, particularly in the womb or during early childhood, can disturb our hormonal, reproductive, and immune systems, and that multiple chemicals can act together to harm human health. Some toxic chemicals can even persist in the environment, for decades sometimes, building up in the food chain and in our bodies. Cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and other reproductive problems are all associated, to some degree, with exposure to toxic chemicals in animals or humans.”-Natural Resources Defense Council

I don’t think we should sit by and wait for others to do the right thing for our families, we need to demand that Congress reevaluate the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time since 1976.

We can help make a change! Seventh Generation is working to push a reform on TSCA which would have all of these chemicals studied and evaluated. Join the movement to protect our kids and future generations to come.

visit www.fighttoxins.com to sign the petition that will be presented to congress on April, 30th 2014.

You can follow the hashtag #FightToxins to stay up to date in the campaign.

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

Photo provided by Seventh Generation

All information on the TSCA and images provided by Seventh Generation

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay

Global Impact’s Women And Girls Fund On #InternationalWomen’sDay
Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

Woman in Long Ampung, Borneo taken by Elizabeth Atalay

I was trying not to stare at her earlobe, but finally I had to ask. Not in English mind you because she spoke the local dialect of her village in Kalimantan. I asked her in that international pantomime us travelers learn to speak. One earlobe hung to her chin weighted with gold rings like most of the women. It was the inverted crescent of the other ear that had caught my attention, where the decorative lobe had been cut off.  She stood and sliced the air with two hands holding an invisible scythe. Bending over she then grasped at the shorn earlobe.  Chuckles came from the other village women with whom I sat on the floor of the longhouse as she did this, and I nodded that I understood.

According to Global Impact, two-thirds of the labor to produce more than half the world’s food is done by women. Meanwhile women control less than 10 percent of the world’s assets. I had seen the women working in the fields, carrying thatched backpacks full of grain back to the village, and then pounding it into fine powder.  The missing earlobe was merely an occupational hazard. In turn she motioned to her belly in a sweeping outward gesture unmistakable as pregnancy, and then clasped her arms to her breast. I shook my head “no” and smiled.  I had no children yet, knowing as their faces flooded with pity that being in my mid twenties this would be shocking to them. Still, despite our cultural differences and our language barriers, I remember being amazed at the feeling of sisterhood I felt as their guest. I was a stranger from a faraway land, but as women we connected and understood each other on some very basic level.

This type of experience would repeat itself for me all round the world, fortifying my sense of global sisterhood as I went. The feeling was bolstered even more so after having my own children, knowing for women the experiences that go along with that are universal.  As is the love we feel for our children, and our hopes and dreams for their futures.  That sisterhood stays with me, as does the knowledge that the population most affected by global poverty is women and girls. Women and girls are integral in overcoming poverty, for a family, a community or a nation.

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This International Women’s Day, Global Impact has launched the Women and Girls Fund which harnesses four of the most respected charities working to help women and girls, CARE, World Vision, Plan International, and the International Center for Research on Women.  These charities work to provide education, health care, protection from violence, protection from sexual exploitation, and job training to women and girls around the world.

We women need to stick together in this world, it is unacceptable that 1 in 9 girls will be forced into marriage before her 15th birthday, or that nearly 300,000 women will die from preventable childbirth related causes.  Girls in the developing world face overwhelming odds from the day they are born.  By educating girls we give them the chance to rise out of poverty, earn a living, and send their own children to school one day.  With proper health care and nutrition we can ensure that they grow to contribute fully to their communities.  Together we can help change the world by simply investing in women and girls. I think about the women I met along my travels who fed me and housed me despite their meager means, and that stranger from a strange land that I was to them, and I want to give back.  I still appreciate the camaraderie we shared so many years and miles away from my here and now, and it calls me to action.

Global Impact’s Women and Girls Fund has the goal of helping women and girls everywhere to live healthy lives, protected, educated, respected, and empowered to reach their full potential. Through this fund you can join millions of people working to help women and girls. All contributions go directly to supporting programs to improve the lives of women and girls around the world.  Please visit www.togetherforwomen.org to learn more about this great opportunity to make a difference.

This post is a part of a sponsored awareness program that seeks to help women and girls everywhere live healthy lives wherein they are protected, respected, educated and empowered to reach their potential. Visit www.togetherforwomen.org.

global teamI wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. Our Motto: Individually we are all powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.