In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to recognize how our volunteers celebrate and support mothers around the world. From Tanzania to Ecuador, Montana to Greece, volunteers support mothers in developing communities in so many ways: encouragement, time, nutrition, self-sufficiency, recognition, heart, helping hands, peace, mentoring, and camaraderie.
Top 10 Ways You Can Support Mothers Around the World
Being a mother is perhaps the hardest job in the world. It’s a job full of joy, but one which also presents many challenges, especially when paired with providing for your family and being in charge of household tasks. Volunteers provide support and encouragement for mothers around the world by spending time with them, listening to their struggles and their hopes, and sharing their own stories.
Recently in Ecuador, a team of four volunteers had the chance to sit down with an Ecuadorian mother, Daniela, in her home. Daniela shared her experience of becoming a mother at the age of 18; her husband’s struggle to find employment where he is paid on time; and her difficulties in dividing her time between working, studying, and being home to take care of her children. Daniela shared with us the progress of her studies to complete her high school diploma and how she hopes to go on to study law, saying there are so many people in her community who need the help of a lawyer who is honest and who won’t steal from them. The volunteers listened intently while Daniela spoke about what she hopes to give back to her community and they offered encouragement and support to this determined mother of two young boys.
One volunteer told the story of a mother and her children on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, who lived on the far end of the tribal land, did not have a car, and had no real consistent access to anyone except each other. That volunteer shared the gift of time and companionship with this woman and both came away from that afternoon more hopeful and more connected.
In rural Tanzania where nutritious food is not always readily available, pregnancy can be a stressful time. Volunteers on short-term service programs help ease that stress by helping expectant moms embrace how important it is to get the nutrients their babies need to grow and thrive both through education and by helping distribute micro-nutrient packets to add to their food.
In the little village of Anse la Raye on the island of St. Lucia, mothers and their children live in houses that are built one next to the other with no land in between to grow fresh vegetables. Our volunteers work with mothers to establish and grow food in container gardens so that they and their children can get the nutrients they need from fresh vegetables they grow themselves.
Team members help recognize and elevate mothers around the world in our partner communities, and many such mothers live in places where resources are scarce and support systems weak. Daycare centers for very disadvantaged families in Ecuador provide young mothers with a safe, nurturing environment where they can leave their children while they go to work each day to provide for their families. This also gives some mothers the opportunity to go back to school.
Because two-thirds of our volunteers are women, and the majority of our volunteers have taught in the classroom, Global Volunteers are natural role models for the equitable treatment of girls. Volunteers demonstrate that women and men can perform any job and be successful in any career.
Greece is in the middle of a refugee crisis, with more than 62,000 refugees in camps throughout the country, and the majority of those refugees are mothers and their children. Most of the refugees are from Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. A volunteer told the story of packing supplies, all donated by Cretan people, to distribute to refugees — primarily mothers and their children — in various camp sites throughout the country.
7. Helping hands
Sometimes the most important thing volunteers can provide is more hands to feed and nurture little ones. The caretakers at the daycare centers where Global Volunteers partners in Calderón, Quito in Ecuador have a heavy work load of caring for ten one, two, or three-year-olds each. On top of caring for their charges, they are responsible for lesson planning and cleaning tasks. And most of the caretakers are single mothers themselves, who go home to cook, clean, and care for their own children after a full day’s work. Volunteers in Ecuador help to alleviate the caretakers’ workload a bit, and provide more one-on-one attention to the little ones.
Global Volunteers’ mission is to wage peace and promote justice around the world. In Cuba, you can wage peace and represent the United States in a positive light while getting to know Cuban mothers. Volunteers serve at a sewing circle in Havana where mothers and grandmothers create table runners, bags, and decorations to sell, thereby giving them a source of additional income to provide for their families.
When you share your own parenting skills and experience, you’re sharing your story by way of your own struggles and triumphs as a parent. For instance, a pregnant woman or new mother in Tanzania can be baffled and fascinated by knowing that a baby in her womb can hear it’s mother’s voice. Stories about the first time you sang to your unborn baby and when you first felt a kick immediately creates a common bond of trust. Volunteers have taught new mothers to sing to their bellies. That’s been a lot of laughs! Talk about the sound of the mother’s heartbeat in her fetus’ ears and how that sound comforts him/her immediately after birth. Even when the infant is in her mother’s sling carrier, the baby can feel her heartbeat at the same time.
Through listening, sharing, teaching, and working together, volunteers offer mothers around the world their camaraderie. In singing songs, playing games, doing repairs, caring for children, volunteers and mothers around the world offer each other their camaraderie.
To learn more about how you can celebrate and support mothers around the world or volunteer with your own children, check out these blog posts:
- Women and Children: Centerpiece of RCP Projects Worldwide
- Liz and Jacob Turnage: A Mother-Son Volunteer Duo
- Mother and Daughter Travel and Learn Together
Click here to learn more about these programs to support mothers: