World Moms Network is BACK!!

World Moms Network is BACK!!

Hello, there! Remember when the World Moms used to jet set off to parts unknown? Or were always busy covering conferences and events around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Well, the pandemic has provided our editing team time to reflect about a lot, including about what the future of World Moms Network will be, and I’d like to share with you what’s been going on behind the scenes over the past year!

How World Moms Network Got Started

First, if you are new here, you may be wondering how we got started…Back in 2010 when I had a toddler and another one on the way, I was interested to find a site to read that had perspectives from mothers from around the world. When I couldn’t find it, I decided to create it by getting a bunch of books out of the library, creating a website, and (kindly) harassing mothers I knew to write for the site to get started. If you build it, they will come. And they came! I have met so many magnificent women through this site! And if I knew the impact we were about to make in the years to come, I may have been even more nervous on day one – not being able to see the future, is bliss sometimes! 

Over the past more than a decade we grew to over 70 volunteer global staff. Our World Moms wrote their hearts out on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights, and social good. They also made global friends along the way, championed social good causes, were sent on international reporting trips, spoke at the World Bank, and more! Then in more recent years we began to slow down…

The Slow Down…Was This The End?

Maybe it was because our kids were getting a bit older and we found ourselves with less time in front of the computer, maybe it was because we got more involved in our local communities, maybe it was because we went back to full time work or our work responsibilities grew, maybe it was because we all just needed a break, maybe blogging was losing steam, maybe we had had a good run, and this was it. However, amid the slowdown, the site stayed up. There were still World Moms who felt motivated here and there to put a post up. They kept us active, and we were still around. 

I thought during the wind down, “This might be it.” We had an amazing run which led to invitations to places like the UN and the White House. (We still can’t believe that all happened!) Our editors had new things going on in their lives, too. Not to mention, the political climate of the world began to change and became more polarized (and depressing). 

Messages From World Moms

I thought we were all ready to move on. Then the messages started rolling in. When are we beginning to ramp up? When can I write again? The World Moms wrote to me asking when we were getting back up and running. It was a pattern over time. The messages came in like delegates deliberating at a UN conference — from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, etc. The world was nudging World Moms Network that there was still a need for us.

Once the pandemic hit, we decided to have a few video calls to catch up with old friends and do a mental health check in. Every time we had a call different World Moms would show up. The questioning continued, “What are the next steps with World Moms Network?”, and they talked about how much they needed our community. It was their happy place. And, of course, we laughed A LOT! We’d hear stories that World Moms Network would come up in a mom’s therapy session as being something they really loved doing and that made them feel good about themselves and the world. Having their roles here made them feel important. Connecting with moms outside of their culture made life exciting and interesting! This was all true for me, too!

I always thought that the site was for our readers. Well, it very much is, but I completely underestimated how much the site is for us, the World Moms contributors, too. We’re here for you, but we’re also here because we need to be. There’s just something brewing in the universe that is tugging at us to be together and to get back to writing and convening. Coming from a group of global moms who are so used to giving, it was quite impactful to realize that we were all getting something out of what we do here, too. World Moms Network is a place where we belong. That sense of belonging is important to me, too. I had just been too focused on what we were doing, and I needed time to think, to take a step back, and to see the greater picture. 

Rebuilding World Moms Network

After our group calls at the beginning of the pandemic Senior Editors, Purnima in India and Elizabeth in the US, suggested we get on a call one day just to catch up together in a small group. That chat led to more chats. Those chats turned into action items. Before we knew it, we were meeting more regularly, having weekly calls, and our planning circle grew wider. 

Then I started a grad school program at Columbia University to earn my Executive Masters of Public Administration with a global policy studies concentration. I used my Quantitative Analysis class to create an effective survey for our moms. I thought, “What the heck! Why don’t I poll the World Moms and see how many were actually interested in starting up regular posting again?” They responded!!! They wanted in! I was really quite overwhelmed.

Purnima, Elizabeth, and I took the survey data and began running with it. We rebuilt our editing team. That was the easiest part. To our luck over time we had some editors come and go and many wanted to come back! We started working with a web designer to rejuvenate the site. Our informal chats turned into 2 weekly meetings (at different times to accommodate time zones).

Kyla was back. Kirsten was back. Margie was back. Tes was back. Oh my gosh, this band was ready to practice! That plus Orana was back and ready to pump up our social media. Nicole was back and thinking about ways to align us with nonprofits. Erin was back and wanted to run a yoga and meditation month. I was running lots of meetings again! Each editor had a geographical region of writers. The majority of our writers returned.

Among those that didn’t return – some were having babies or just moved and needed some time. We began to feel empowered and soon realized that you never quite say goodbye to a World Mom. We expected lot of No’s. To hear stories about people had moved on and there was no longer room for World Moms Network. On the contrary, we received lots of yesses and responses from people who wanted to stay on board and help with photos or offer to help in some other way if they couldn’t write. Even Asta, a World Mom from Norway who wrote our very first post on November 1, 2010, is back to help with photos!!

World Moms Network Relaunches!

The connections we have made over the past decade were real. And strong. Here we are again! Readers and World Moms, welcome to World Moms Network 2.021! Beginning next week, we’ll be posting twice per week (be on the lookout on Tuesdays and Thursdays!) and are planning to cover more UN International Days and continue to align our site with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals because they are at the core of what is important to us globally. Also, we have taken feedback from our contributors and rearranged the site into updated hot topic columns: “World Voice” (human rights and social good), “Let’s Talk About Racism”, “Health and Wellness”, “COVID-19”, “World Parenting”, and “Meet a World Mom!”.

We’ve become a family. We need this network as much as you do. World Moms Network is a community that people enjoy being a part of. Get ready for another long ride. Get ready to hear more about the behind the scenes, as we try out better ways to bring that to the site. World Moms Network is BACK!!!

Thank you for being here with us!  Please subscribe to our newsletter (sign up on this page) to keep up to date with our posts and engage with us on social media. We have a LinkedIn page now, too! Stay tuned for great things to come from World Moms Network!

Jennifer Burden, Founder and CEO, World Moms Network

Beginning next Tuesday, June 8th, 2021, World Moms Network will return to regular posting twice a week!

This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden, who hails from New Jersey, USA. Photo credit to Shilpa Iyer Photography.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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Happy International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been over 10 years since World Moms Network published its first post. We’re still all here in the trenches. Planning new things for 2021. Watch this space over the next few months. We are reorganizing and getting our site touched up!

In the meantime, I’d like to share a photo of me and one of my favorite women that I met from World Moms Network (when we were just World Moms Blog!), Purnima Ramakrishnan in India for International Women’s Day. What a ride we have had over the years, and the future is bright! That’s us at the BlogHer conference in Chicago in 2015 when Purnima was there advocating for global vaccines for children in the developing world. I look forward to doing more good with you and the rest of my most favorite women to make the world a better place, here, in this space!

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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How great (or not so great) is your country to raise a child?

Photo credit to Save the Children.

Introduction to the Global Childhood Report 2020

How does your country rank when it comes to the lives of children? As World Moms, our hearts are with children, and we’ve been buzzing about Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report 2020 this summer in our contributors’ group and even on video calls. We’ve come to the conclusion that this year’s report is more important than most, and we’d love to pull our readers into the conversation! 

The Global Childhood Report measures the effects of ill-health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy, conflict and extreme violence on children. Its goal is to reveal where on the planet a child has a better chance at a healthy and happy childhood and where resources need to be focused to provide a better life for kids.  

The Convention on the Rights of the Child identifies the ideal childhood as “healthy children in school and at play, growing strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults, gradually taking on the responsibilities of adulthood, free from fear, safe from violence, protected from abuse and exploitation.” 

Singapore has held the top spot since 2018, the year in which Save the Children began using national estimates instead of relying only on UN data. (According to the nonprofit, the change in data source made the rankings more accurate.) But what does holding the top spot mean? 

With possible points from 1-1,000, with 1,000 being the best possible scenario for children, the country scores measure the extent at which children living in their respective nations experience childhood enders, or situations which cause death or cause a child to have to enter adult roles too soon. Out of 180 countries this year the actual scores ranged from Singapore with the highest score of 989, where kids are more likely to experience an ideal childhood, to Niger with the lowest score of 375, where children are most likely to experience an early death or difficult living situations.

Joining Singapore at the top of the list, 8 out of the top 10 ranked countries were western European, and all 10 at the very bottom of the list were from sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizing an undeniable geographic and economic difference in the welfare of children. The good news is that globally 121 countries improved the well-being of children in their countries this year, while only 19 countries declined. 

Singapore #1

Hailing from Singapore, World Mom, Karen Grosse, recently joined us via video call, where we were able to get her reaction to her country’s top ranking. “Wow, Singapore’s #1! I had a quick read through of the factors, and I’d agree that our kids are very protected.”, she stated. 

What we learned from Karen was that only the first 6 years of primary education are mandatory in Singapore, and the government subsidizes education, which works out to be only $13 Singapore per month, or about $9.50 USD per month. She explained that the subsidies continue for secondary schooling with fees around $25 – $43 Singapore ($18 -$32 USD) per month for most schools and that the low school fees encourage most children to continue their education past the mandatory 6 years.

In addition, Singapore’s cultural emphasis on the importance of education also keeps kids in school, which attributes towards the country’s very low rates of adolescent marriages and teen births. 

Yet another contributing factor toward Singapore’s top ranking is mandatory vaccinations from birth against life threatening diseases such as TB, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, rubella, and more. At school children receive free annual health checks, eye tests, and even dental visits. In fact, when we spoke, Karen, a teacher, explained that her students had just had their health checks and immunizations earlier in the morning by a health team which comes to the school to conduct the healthcare! Singapore also has a universal healthcare system, and all of the countries in the top 10 either have universal healthcare or some type of healthcare safety net for those who don’t have health insurance to ensure that everyone’s covered. 

As for gun violence, Karen described that guns are not legal in the country, and gun deaths are not existent to rare. In fact, the penalties for having a gun are quite severe in Singapore and can include imprisonment and caning according to gunpolicy.org.

USA #43

As for my own country, the U.S. dropped 7 places in the childhood index this year to number forty-three. For the previous 3 years, the US had been ranked at 36, still noticeably low for a wealthy nation. Here, one in five children continue to live below the poverty line, gun violence continues to be an issue, as well as, systematic racism.

Although the current administration has tried to expire healthcare and food programs that are already in place and support the well-being of children, these efforts have been blocked by Congress, and the programs remain. It is important that the U.S. keeps programs such as SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act intact for those who need them most, as they also affect the welfare of the nation’s children. 

Vaccinations are mandatory for children entering school, unless there is a state exemption, which in some states is loosely used. This has caused vaccination rates to become lower in places in the country in more recent years and increases the chances of an outbreak of a possibly fatal childhood disease. Children who have healthcare receive their vaccinations from their doctors, and the federal and local governments have programs to ensure that children who need vaccinations can easily receive them without charge.

Children’s education in the U.S. is paid for in our local real estate taxes, and in many places in the country this includes those big yellow school buses to school seen in the movies! In 2017 the most recent year for published data, the teenage pregnancy rate was on a decline dropping below 18 births per 1000 girls. The high school graduation rate in the U.S. is on a uptick at 85%, with statistics being higher for White and Asian children, and below the average for Black, Hispanic, and Native American children.   

Currently even though the U.S. has only 4.25% of the world’s population, it has 24.75% of the world’s COVID cases as of Aug. 19, 2020, so the pandemic most likely will have an unequal negative impact on the U.S.’s Global Child Report ranking next year compared to other wealthy nations who were less exposed to the virus. Only time will tell. 

Canada #28, Italy #8, South Africa #119, and India #115

Next, let’s hear how some of the World Moms reacted to their own country’s listing in the Global Childhood Report.  

“Canada is 28th. Nowhere near where we should be given the wealth of the country and its focus on human rights.” – World Mom, Kirsten Doyle in Canada

“Although I have lived in South Africa since I was 8 years old (and both my children were born here) I still feel that I am Italian. I’m, therefore, proud to see that Italy is ranked 8th out of 180 countries and scored a very respectable 982/1,000 (the top score was 989/1,000). The Italian government keeps putting measures in place to assist families with children, because the birth rate is still relatively low, and they actually want to encourage more people to have children. Each child is considered precious – sometimes too much so (in the sense that I find many of them to be rather spoilt).

Unfortunately, South Africa, where I live now, doesn’t fare as well. SA is ranked 119th out of 180 with a score of 775/1,000 (the bottom score is 375/1,000). We have a dreadful, systemic issue with violence against women and children in this country. There is also a lack of adequate schools. A situation that is aggravated by “protests” that destroy the very schools that are so direly needed. All of this has been aggravated by the COVID-19 Lockdown. Currently 51% of families are not “food secure”.

They were living “paycheck to paycheck” and for far too many people the paychecks stopped in March! Unfortunately, millions of people have lost their livelihoods completely and are relying on charity to put food on the table. Sadly, the situation for far too many children in SA is only going to get worse. The South African government has failed its people.”  — World Mom, Simona Rinfreschi in South Africa

“India ranks #115. Earlier India had made a lot of progress in making childhood a safe and joyous phase for children. But with the ensuing COVID pandemic, whatever progress was made in child rights, child mortality, neo natal care, maternal care, schooling, etc., is now reversed. This is very unfortunate. 

Some specific things which I can see from staying at home during the pandemic are that mid day meals which were offered in school are no more available. That was the only reason some children went to the school, so not only are they not coming to school to eat, but they are also not being educated. Not all schools or children have the ability/privilege to study from home. Children below the poverty line are unable to buy gadgets to study from home and access online classes. 

Some schools also do not have this ability. Schools being shut also means there are no safe space for kids to escape domestic violence and child protection services are non-functional or semi-functional during the pandemic and with this huge population, not all can avail all services. I just wish, the schools find a safe and reasonable way to reopen, with medical precaution and education for social distancing, as schools are a haven for children in India. Food, education, escape! 

Also, because of COVID services of Anganwadis workers are unavailable. So essentially newborn and mothers have nowhere to go for their basic facilities. And it would not take just the 5 or 10 years to redo all this progress. It might need a whole new mindset to rise up! We have gone back at least a decade in the last 6 months!” – World Mom, Purnima Ramakrishnan of India

Conclusion

The feedback from the World Moms is quite worrying for children because the most recent data used by the 2020 Global Childhood Report is from 2019, which was prior to the impact on children from the COVID-19 pandemic. World Mom and RESULTS member, Yolanda Gordon in the USA stated, “After talking with some folks in the know and looking over some information, even the numbers that will come out with the US Census numbers this year will be based on the numbers from last year. We may see an improvement in the reports for this year, but the following year’s reported data will look different.” So, we may not see the full effects of the pandemic until 2 years out when 2020 data is fully reported. 

In conclusion, not only is it important that Save the Children compiles this information to see where childhood is stronger and weaker on an annual basis, this year’s report becomes an important baseline to measure the impact that the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world’s children this year and the years to come as the data comes in year after year. Then, we will be more easily able to identify the countries and areas on the globe where children were most affected by the pandemic and target programs in those places to help secure a better childhood for the world’s children. 

So where does your country rank?  View Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report.

Read World Moms Network’s post from last year on the 2019 Global Childhood Report.

Jennifer Burden is the founder of World Moms Network from New Jersey, USA. She also sponsors a child through Save the Children.

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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World Moms Network: We’re Back!!

 

Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay, Senior and World Voice Editor, Purnima Ramakrishnan, and Founder, Jennifer Burden on a video call to kick off the new season!

 

Welcome back, everyone!

This summer we all took a well needed “Blogcation” from the site. It was nice to take a break. The summer was busy for me and my family. We were in Europe and splashing along New Jersey’s coast in the USA, as well as, day tripping into New York City. Our adventures left very little time for sitting in front of a computer! But now that the kids are back to school, I am excited to be a part of picking up where we left off…

Getting back into the swing of things last week all started with Purnima in India posting to our editors’ group on Facebook: “Are we starting our posting schedule today?”, and then we all started scrambling into position from around the globe!

Elizabeth Atalay in the USA began organizing the schedule and surveying what had been written in the queue. She called me on the phone later in the week, and we agreed to organize our first Senior Editors meeting of the year. Kirsten was on jury duty in Canada, so we’d have to wait another week for her input. We agreed to meet on Wednesday morning. It was like getting all the Super Heros together!

Here’s how it all went down:

I chose 9:15am because it’s early enough in Purnima’s evening in India for her to attend, and it would give me enough time to get the kids on the bus, and then be back in time to fire up my computer with my cup of tea. However, one of my daughters slept in this morning, and I had to give her the full on mom physical — feel her head, take her temp, ask her questions — to see if she was ok to go to school. She was. So, after getting one kid on the bus, I had enough time to pack the other kid up, and drive her to school. So, not the calm stroll from the bus stop onto the video call that I envisioned! I messaged Purnima to let her know I’d be running late.

Once on the call, Purnima’s internet in India kept cutting out on us. It also took us both awhile to tinker and find the right mic and volume settings on each side. We FINALLY got it all going, and then out of the blue my husband comes running down the stairs and says in a panic, “I need a ride to the bus stop! I’m not going to make it, if I have to park! Sorry, I received a call I had to take a few minutes ago! Can you take me?” He had been working in the office upstairs, but needed to head to NYC for a meeting. So, I then had to end the video call. Yep. And I had to tell Purnima I’d call her when I got back from driving my husband to the bus.

It’s now after 10am. On the way back, I got a text from Elizabeth, “Did I miss the call?” She had other business this morning, and couldn’t get on earlier, but was now free. I say, “Perfect timing.”

I head back into the house, and before you know it, I’ve got both, Purnima and Elizabeth on the video call. Success!

Later, we share what we discussed in our editors’ group, and Senior Editor, Kirsten Doyle in Canada, got to add on to what we were building.

This about explains what it’s like behind the scenes, here, at World Moms Network. Did you expect something else?

We pull it all together. We always do. We’re the #WorldMoms. So, this is a note to let you know how grateful we are that you stop by here to read. We’re not in a big office building churning out editorials. We’re out and about around the globe, on the ground, and enthusiastic about making this work into our day. It really means a lot to us that you’re reading!

What can you look out for? #WorldMoms will be hitting New York City next week for events around the United National General Assembly. Elizabeth Atalay, Nicole Melancon and myself will be attending the Travel Blogger Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship. The Summit is a continuation from the White House Travel Blogger Summit that I attended in 2014. They have a great lineup of speakers and sponsors, whom we can’t wait to meet! The hashtag is #studyabroadbecause

Margie Webb in Arkansas and Tes Solomon in New York will be covering this year’s Social Good Summit in New York City hosted by the UN Foundation, Mashable, UNDP, and the 92nd St. Y! World Moms Network has been covering this event since 2011, and it’s always an interesting event to hear about the progress towards the world’s goals to end extreme poverty and more! The hashtag is #2030Now

Tes Solomon will also be attending a high level United Nations Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals, too! We are covering a lot of bases, and can’t wait to keep you posted on what we learn. Make sure you keep up with our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds September 21st-24th!

Drop us a line in the comments and let us know what you’d like to hear more about from us in the year to come! We’d love to hear from you. And…Welcome Back! 

Jennifer Burden

Founder of World Moms Network

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.

She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.

Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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USA: Returning to Myself in Paris

USA: Returning to Myself in Paris

Just last week, I found myself in Paris, France. I was about to meet my niece, who was studying abroad, but I gave myself an extra first day on my own. I made plans with our contributor in Paris, Marie Kléber, whom I didn’t know very well, but whom I was so excited to meet!

She met me at my hotel, and we headed out by metro to the area of Saint Martin. She helped me navigate purchasing my travel card, and led me to a trendy, “oh so good!”, vegan place for lunch. We sat on high stools looking out toward the street. We talked and talked and talked! (Mostly in English, but later switched to French!) I wanted to know all about her life. What her life was like in Paris as a mom. About the French elections happening the next day. She was curious about how World Moms Network got started, and if I had met any of the other World Moms and who! (Lucky to say, yes, I have!)

It felt surreal. I traveled all this way, and all of a sudden I have a good friend here whom I had never met before. But, it’s not a unique feeling. It’s the same feeling when Purnima from India met Ecoziva in Brazil. When Tara from Canada met Nancy in Tanzania. When Martine from the Philippines met Ruth in Singapore. When I met Mama B. from Saudi Arabia in NYC. In our own efforts we are satisfying (or igniting more!) curiosities about the world through meeting women from around the world. Woman who we wouldn’t come across in our towns or cities at home. We found them through this network.

In France I had a feeling of complete comfort in a foreign city that had just been the site of a terrorist attack the night before. After lunch Marie took me to see the statue of Rèpublique, a piece of her French heritage. Then, I assumed I’d just find my way back to my hotel on my own. I had such a fantastic time with her!!

But no, Marie, rode the metro back toward my hotel with me, out of her way. And walked me back to my hotel. She was going to tell me how best to get to a friend’s place for later tonight. It turned out it was only 2 blocks from where she lived. What are the chances of that? So, Marie insisted that she take me to my friend’s doorstep. And I insisted that she come in and meet my friend!

World Moms Network reminds me that the world isn’t so big. That there are amazing people to meet in every culture. We just have to reach out and allow ourselves to be connected. Let go of what is familiar. We may be surprised.

Marie gave me more than just great conversation, a tour around her home city, and sight-seeing tips for me and my niece. I had been feeling burnt out lately. I had spent so many years straight working and squeezing hours as though squeezing the last of the toothpaste to work on World Moms Network since 2010. And this past 100 days, watching how my own country is trying to defund the very life-saving global health programs that I’ve been writing about and passionately advocating for. Calling my Senators and Congressman. Reading. Disappointed. And on top of all that, busier in my children’s lives in my new role this year as Girl Scout Leader. And finally making exercise a priority for my health.

World Moms Network has continued to deliver while I have been juggling other life stages because of the strength of the team of women behind me. Just in case you ever thought that this site was just me, it’s sooo never been just me. Thank you to the World Moms who carry the torch when other World Moms just cannot.

It’s amazing how a conversation with a new friend thousands of miles away can take you back to what you stand for. For what you fight for. For peace. For friendship. For understanding. For cultural appreciation. For respect. For maturity. To help you find your footing. Guide you back to writing. To restore you energy.

It’s been awhile since I wrote. Thank you, Marie. I’m back.

This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.  

Photo credits to the author. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India.

She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls.

Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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