This guest post was written by Cathy Sanders, Vice President of Philanthropy for Heifer International.
I feel very fortunate to be a mother. It is the best thing Ive ever done. My children have made me experience love like I never expected. They are funny, smart, creative, loving and generous little boys. How many mothers around the world feel this way? Im certain that I am only one of millions of women who live to make sure their children thrive. Even when my patience is at the very end, when they argue with each other or they sigh emphatically and roll their eyes at taking a shower I think how very lucky we are to be able to provide a home for them with plenty of food, access to education and health care and opportunities to build a good life for themselves.
Even in a trying U.S. economy, Americans cant possibly relate to the realities that most people in the world struggle with every day. As mothers we are also charged with teaching our children how to become independent persons who are kind, generous, loving contributors and citizens of the world.
I had these thoughts in my head on a recent trip to see Heifers projects in Nepal. Nepal is a stunningly beautiful country with wise and wonderful people. Poverty there is also staggering. More than 30 percent of Nepalese live below the poverty line of $12 per person per month. Eighty percent of Nepals population live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming. Life is a constant struggle for survival.
One of the most marginalized groups in Nepal is women. Heifer Internationals work in Nepal is impressive and very successful. We focus on womens empowerment and building community where none exists. You may have heard us talk about the 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development before. This training weaves itself through everything done in Nepal and makes the projects sustainable long after Heifer International leaves.
I sat with a group of women in Belsi who were self-help group participants 10 years ago and listened as they told stories about the intense process of learning to work in community and to improve themselves?learning to read and write, learning to run a small business (goats), learning to trust. This work is so complex that it boggles my mind how Heifer has been able to be the spark that brought these women to life.
Even more impressive are these incredible women! Imagine their day: preparing breakfast, taking care of the livestock, cleaning up after breakfast, working in the field or searching for food, preparing lunch, washing clothes, fetching water, taking care of the children and on and on but with none of the luxuries of running water or even access to water, gas cookstove, dishwasher, washing machine, etc. While responsible for all that labor they still had to ask permission from their husbands to participate in training from Heifer International for hours a week. This is an extraordinary amount of extra work. But they did it. They did it because they wanted a better life for their children. Just like us.
On Mothers Day, we take time to be grateful for the sacrifices of our own mothers. This Mothers Day lets also take time to celebrate the sacrifice, strength, courage and wisdom of mothers in Nepal and everywhere where survival is a daily struggle.