“Survival of the fittest” is how Patrick Makokoro jokingly described his childhood with a smile, only he wasn’t exactly joking.
A handsome father with a friendly and earnest demeanor, Patrick is an early childhood education activist in Zimbabwe. He came to my community in St. Louis, MO last week on a U.S. media tour to talk about the importance of U.S. support for the Global Partnership for Education. He knows firsthand how it feels to be denied an education. He grew up in poverty as the 8th child in a family of 16 kids. His Darwinian comment about survival describes the competition he felt when he had to scuffle with his siblings for a share out of a big bowl of cornmeal. Despite barely being able to afford school fees, his parents – a gardener and a housekeeper – valued education highly. In fact, the phrase “Education is the key to success” was drummed into Patrick, early on as his parents struggled to give their kids the best opportunities they could.
He took the lesson to heart and was the first child in his family to pass his basic examinations at 16 years old, making him eligible for high school. Full of pride, he felt sure that his father would be proud to see him continue, but unfortunately, his father had to tell him, “I’m sorry, I can’t afford to pay your fees because you have many siblings. If you continue, I won’t be able to pay for your brothers and sisters to go to school.” It was a crushing disappointment. His bitterness broke the relationship with his father for a time and he left home to find his own way.
An opportunity to work with vulnerable children in an orphanage gave him an eye-opening experience that changed the course of his life. As upset as he was about his situation, he was surrounded by children – happy and playing – who had no parents at all and needed far more than he did. He rolled up his sleeves and guided the children to play sports and plant a garden to help with their nutritional needs. He dedicated his life to serving orphans and finding sustainable solutions to support kids like them.
Patrick supported himself through the rest of high school and college while working with other non-profits addressing the plight of Zimbabwe’s children. Time and experience taught him that local resources were often not adequate to respond to shortages in food supplies, medical care, psychological support, and school fees. So, he started his own organization called the Nhaka Foundation to address these needs together. “Nhaka” means inheritance.
“Education is the key to success,” says Patrick echoing his father. “So, if we are to leave any inheritance for children and orphans, it should be an education.”
This year, the Nhaka Foundation is celebrating its 10th anniversary of giving children a healthy foundation and early learning opportunities. Patrick is now an international advocate, traveling as far as the U.S. to share how critical it is for us to continue to support country-led programs investing in children.
Patrick at a meeting with RESULTS St Louis Activists and writers from St. Louis media. Photo credit to RESULTS St. Louis
It’s important that he does come here to tell his story. After all, the U.S is a donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which provides grants to the Nhaka Foundation! Our money is pooled with other countries and distributed by the GPE after rigorous scrutiny. It assures money is not lost to corruption or poor planning. It ensures that we can invest in the highest quality programs that will help the most vulnerable children.
Global Partnership for Education
The coincidence that I met Patrick a week before the primary school graduation of my youngest child was not lost on me. While we celebrate the shining futures of our little ones, most of the parents in our school have no idea what is happening in Zimbabwe, nor the transformative work the GPE does with our tax dollars. Yet, all Americans should know that it is through our action or our inaction, that we impact the fates of millions of children worldwide. When we speak out and demand that our government support the GPE, we change the course of millions of lives from despair to opportunity. When we remain silent, we risk the bright hope of Patrick’s orphans and so many like them.
If you live in a donor country, speak out to your government about the importance of global education and urge them to pledge generously to the GPE for its 2017 replenishment campaign this year. As a World Mom, I want to stand with Patrick and pass on this inheritance of education to every child.
As a World Mom, I want to stand with Patrick and pass on this inheritance of education to every child.
Photo Credits to the Author, RESULTS, Global Partnership for Education
Fear is a funny thing. It prevents you from trying, it quiets the cries of your dreams and it stifles endless possibilities.
We spend days, months and years of our lives afraid to try new unknown things, afraid we might fail and worried about the what ifs. Fear is a constant mirror being held up to your face, taunting you, daring you not to listen to your inner voice, the voice of yearning trying hard to be heard above the endless chatter and noise that fear makes.
As an oncology nurse I hear way to much about regrets, about dreams cut short and left unfulfilled, about chances never taken and things never tried. Every time a patient shares their regrets with me it makes me think about how I’m living my life and what dreams I’m stifling by not releasing my fears and walking unchartered territory.
I think fear prevents us from being fully present, fully connected with ourselves and what’s important to us. We’re constantly worried about whether we’re doing or saying the right thing, whether the price of taking a chance is worth the unease and being unsure of how to relinquish control. We spend so many wasted hours playing through scenarios in our heads, most of which will never even be an issue.
It’s funny how much fear controls us. What do we really have to lose by giving into our fears instead of facing them head on? Nothing more and nothing less than our ourselves, our true selves.
What are you afraid of?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Susie Mayerfeld, our contributor in Israel.
Photo credit to Susie Mayerfeld.
I read an article recently which claimed that happier adults have been raised by parents who were less psychologically controlling and more caring. The study at the University of Edinburgh found that people whose parents showed warmth and responsiveness had higher life satisfaction and mental well-being throughout their adult lives.
‘Psychological’ control is different from ‘behavioural’ control which we would think of as a healthy level of strictness e.g. applying boundaries such as set bed times, homework being done, and giving tasks /chores. The big distinction is that parents applying behavioral control set some limits on behavior rather than feelings.
Psychological control involves not letting children make some of their own decisions, invading their privacy and making them feel dependent. It also involves making children feel guilty. Unsurprisingly, people who had experienced such behavior in their childhood had lower life satisfaction levels and poorer mental well being.
By contrast, those who were brought up with behavior control had better relationships throughout their adult life. This has also been demonstrated in other studies which showed that warmth and responsiveness promotes social and emotional development whilst psychological control can limit a child’s independence and their ability to control their own behavior.
I’m sure the results of these studies will not be a big revelation to most of us but, in a nutshell, what came out loud and clear was that children in the behavioral control group felt that they were listened to, that they were given affection, and that their worries and problems were understood.
The psychologist interviewed suggested that parents should help their children to make as many decisions as possible on their own depending, as one would expect, on their age and maturity.
This, they said, allows children to develop a healthy level of independence and confidence in their ability to make important decisions. It reminded me of my own children and that I had instinctively adopted a similar attitude during their childhood. In fact, from a very early age, I gave each of them complete control and freedom over one thing. My daughter chose her clothes as, from the age of two, she was very particular about what she would wear to the point that we often called her Coco Chanel! My son chose his hair as he hated having it cut and would make a big fuss whenever it was time to go to a hairdresser.
Of course, this meant that my daughter provoked a few surprises when she appeared in some rather unconventional outfits and that my son often looked as though he belonged in a field, scaring the crows. However, they both really enjoyed and appreciated being allowed to decide these things for themselves and they learned a lot through their experiences. My daughter has had an ongoing love of clothes and design which was enabled in part by the fact that she could experiment and enjoy a lot of freedom in her choice of outfits. My son now has short, neat, hair having gone through the experience of trying to manage a wild mop on his head, and limited eyesight (he has learned a few things the hard way!).
Over the years, we have encouraged our children make more and more of their own decisions and, when making them, to use their good sense, their feelings, and their intuition. It has also helped them to understand that it’s okay to change your mind and that ‘wrong’ decisions are not necessarily mistakes, but an opportunity to learn from an experience and to change our direction since we all have different ways and paths to a destination. In many cases, it is these so called ‘mistakes’ which provide our greatest teaching and character strengths and, if we take this approach, life can be seen more as an adventure to be lived and experienced, rather than being fearful of making decisions in case they don’t turn out as we hoped for or expected.
Our children still turn to us for advice but it’s mainly to confirm their own judgement and we enjoy seeing them develop the confidence and positivity they need to manage their path through life.
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Judith Nelson.
We are approaching summer in my part of the world, which means prime hiking season! I hike with my two boys all year round, but I love this time of year when things are a bit less wet. We live along the Cascade Mountain Range, so there is no shortage of amazing vistas and gorgeous forests to explore. I have been hiking with my kids since they were babies, most often on my own. My sons are now elementary school age, and while some things have gotten easier over the years, some have not. Endurance and motivation are continual challenges.
All of those lovely photos on social media usually have some rough backstory moments. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so we keep at it.
Today I share some tips on planning a hike and keeping little feet moving along the path.
Choosing a Trail – It’s important to start any journey with a clear plan. Map out where you will go. Depending on where you live, there are often trail websites as well as guide books available that will tell you which are good hikes for kids and when is the best time of year to go. Take into consideration the drive as well as hike length and elevation gain. Are you considering a hike to a destination such as a waterfall or lake, or do you want a no-pressure meander in the forest? Find out if there is a bathroom at the trailhead. And if you do pick a hike with water features, have a plan for when your kids get wet, because they always do.
Safety – Once you have some ideas, make sure to check weather and trail conditions online or with the closest ranger station. Provided the trail looks good and you have any required permits, you can start gearing up. Make sure to pack the 10 essentials plus extra clothes, food, drinks, books, games, and toys for the car. If you are heading to a trail that will be near any ridge, look out, or peak, have a plan to keep little ones safe. I always liked to bring a special blanket that we called the safety mat. When we were in situations where the kids needed to stay put, I brought out the safety mat and they knew there was no leaving the blanket. You may even offer stickers or other rewards for following safety protocol. Lastly, whether you go solo with kids or with friends, have another adult who is not on the hike as your check in buddy. Let them know where you are going, when you plan to return, when you will call to check in, and where they should call if you don’t.
The Drive – Hopefully your kiddos enjoy all those goodies you packed and let you focus on the road. I always keep an eye out on the drive for fun places to stop for a meal or a treat on the way home. I keep it under wraps, but there comes a point on a longer hike when saying “let’s just get to the car, and we can go get ice cream” helps a ton.
Hiking Goals – If your kids have a concept of distance or elevation, talk to them about what you are doing. Give everyone a map if available. Or better yet, give them pencil and a little notebook and have them draw the trail with noticeable landmarks. Consider having them take photographs along the way. My kids LOVE having a camera to carry and will take tons of photos. If the kids are younger, consider picking a favorite tv or book character to pretend to be and act out an adventure on the hike. My boys loved Thomas the Tank Engine, so we’d pretend to be the engines on the narrow-gauge line up on the mountains. If your kids are older, try geocaching, because everyone loves treasure hunting.
Bribery – There is no other way to put it. I bribe my kids. If the drive is super long, they get to play extra video games in the car for being good sports and coming along. I pack treats along with all the healthy stuff. In the photo above, my boys are shown on a mountain peak. Leading up to that moment, my youngest was beginning to bonk at the site of the final climb. I let him know if he made it to the top, he could eat all the cookies before his lunch. He was thrilled, and as the photo shows, we made it. Maybe video games and cookies aren’t going to work for you, but there is something special you can do to reward all that effort.
The last piece of advice I will offer is to always know that at any time you may need to bail.
Maybe it happens on the drive or on the trail, but set a clear expectation with yourself that it will be whatever it will be, which may mean only a few feet down the path. But the more you get your kids out on the trail, the more accustomed to the work they become. And before you know it, you are on top of a mountain having the cookie party of a lifetime!
Do you explore the outdoors with your children? What tips do you have on keeping them safe and moving?
This has been an original post for World Moms Network by Tara B. Photo credit to the author.
L to R: Gwen Zwanziger – Flu Prevention Advocate, Amber McCarthy- Founder, Flu Moms Facebook Group, Dr. Barbara Rath – Co-founder & Chair, Vienna Vaccine safety Initiative, Janet Tobias – Producer & Director, Unseen Enemy
When you’ve gone to a few Summits like I have, you start to wonder if you’ll be as inspired as you were previously. This past Moms+SocialGood Summit on May 4th definitely proved that out.
Going on their 5th year, Moms+SocialGood Summit continues to raise awareness about issues that affect so many, from poverty to maternal mental health. The speakers range from health professionals, celebrities and moms like me who attend to speak about topics that matter to them.
Every year, Global Moms Challenge asks a question of their speakers for Moms+SocialGood and this year’s is: “What do you wish were true for every family, everywhere?”
Of the numerous speakers that day, one made quite an impact on me. A conversation centring on the theme of having “A Future Where Unseen Enemies Are Defeated” addressed Gwen Zwanziger’s story of her daughter tragically passing away from flu complications in 2014. Shannon, Zwanziger’s 17-year-old daughter came home one day complaining of not feeling well and informed her mother that someone from her school had the flu. She didn’t seem to be sick so Zwanziger advised her daughter to rest. By the next day, Shannon developed a high fever, prompting Zwanziger to take Shannon to their doctor. After being seen and determining that it was the flu, she was advised to bring her daughter home and to give Shannon lots of fluids. Thinking that it was just the flu, Zwanziger believed that it would “just run its course”. But a week later, Shannon became worse and after being hospitalized, died of flu complications. Her story made it even more tragic because her daughter’s demise could have been prevented by doing one thing: getting a flu vaccine. As easy as that may sound, it doesn’t take away the heartbreaking fact that one decision changed Zwanziger’s life forever. Zwanziger’s commitment to raising awareness on the importance of the flu vaccine through her involvement in the documentary film, “Unseen Enemy” by Janet Tobias, is crucial because lives are lost unnecessarily every year to this virus and from other infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola globally.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) recommends that every person, 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine every year. This season’s flu vaccine against the Influenza A(H3N2) virus has been 48% effective. While the type of influenza virus varies each year, it shouldn’t hinder any person from being vaccinated, unless one is considered to be at high risk for influenza complications, like adults older than 65, as well as persons who have asthma, cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, to name a few.
As a mom, I made sure that my daughter was up to date with her vaccines every year, and while I knew a few moms who didn’t believe their child should be vaccinated for their own reasons, it didn’t dissuade me from protecting my child and our family from infectious diseases. Vaccines ensure that every person is provided with the means to fight for their health and well-being, and at the end of the day, that’s what every Mother wants. That said, I never considered the Flu vaccine to be important. While it’s not 100% effective, this story has made me reconsider whether or not I and my family should be vaccinated yearly.
While Moms+SocialGood Summit was a day filled with advocacy and initiatives to solve today’s global problems, and every speaker responding to the question, “What do you wish were true for every family, everywhere?”, my takeaway is this:
I wish for a future where health care and education are accessible to every person, in order to fully reach their potential and be a responsible, global citizen that others can look up to and emulate.
Our world is imperfect, but as citizens, we can aspire to be more than what we are and inspire others to build a lasting global community.
So we ask our readers this – “What do you wish were true for every family, everywhere?