Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Mother to Another

This Sunday is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and in Nicaragua it is the 30th.  Much has been said about the Democrats dumping on mothers because they do not “work”…or at least Ann Romney didn’t “work.”  It all seems a little silly to me because mothers who care about their children work and work hard and most people know that.  In fact, in the U.S. only 14% of all mothers are stay-at-home moms, most work outside the home which means they work at a job and then come home and do most of the household work and care giving, despite that many share the home with a partner. 

Worldwide, the UN states that “women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food but earn [a mere] 10% of the income and [only!] own 1% of the property.”  Of the 1.2 billion people in the world living on less than a dollar a day 70% are women…70 percent!  And most of that 70% are mothers.  It is shameful.

Poor mothers here in Nicaragua work hard…they labor hard.  Cleaning house includes sweeping dirt or rough concrete (if lucky) floors; washing clothes on the pila, a concrete scrubbing board or on a rock in a river; hanging clothes out to dry on bushes or barbed wire; watching out for the children; using outhouses; not getting a good night’s sleep in crowded homes; cooking over open fires in a tropical country; scrambling for money and worrying…worrying where the next meal will come from…worrying that something is going to come along that will upset the fine balance they are maintaining to keep the family fed and well.

Something always comes.  Someone gets sick or injured and then the family topples off the fence that separates them from desperation and terror.

Mothering starts early here.  Almost half of all Nicaraguan women 20-24 years old had a child before their 20th birthday.  40 to 45% of all pregnancies are to women/girls 14-19 years old (in the US it is 4%)*; nearly half are unplanned and more than twice as many are to the poorest of the poor.  Right after we moved here I became pregnant with our third child and I was 42 when he was born.  People were not surprised at all that I was having a baby that old…no! What surprised them was that my first born was only 7 years old!

Girls having babies.  At our clinic, we have a new program to support new mothers. We have volunteer health promoter “godmothers” who together with our nurse Martha and full time health promoter Jessenia follow the babies until they are one year old while they support the mothers, who as you can see from above need support.   They visit the new moms to promote breastfeeding, weigh the babies and check up on development.  Each of the 20 participating pregnant and new mothers receives a handmade bag with supplies. 

Mothers need support.  On this Mother’s Day, support your own mother.  Tell how much you love her and appreciate her and help her do all the work she has to do.  And…

One Mother to Another…this Mother's Day give a gift in honor of your mother to the Nueva Vida Clinic’s new mother support program.  Donate $25 to the program in honor of your mother and we’ll send her a beautiful e-card. 
Happy Mother’s Day, Moms!

*Nicaragua has the highest rate in Central and South America; 
the US has the highest rate in the industrialized nations.