Last November, I visited Tanzania to meet all of the students of the Mom2Mom Africa program, a not for profit organization that I started a short while ago. I remember visiting and spending time with all of the students in the program, and they would refer to me as “Mama”. This is common, and initially I didn’t give it much thought. But, I vividly remember the school director telling me that all of these students are just like my “children”. He said, go back to Canada knowing that you have more than 40 children here in Tanzania! It was so touching, and brought tears to my eyes…yet at the same time, the responsibility of it all was so terrifying. Could I meet their expectations? Could I really be a “good” mama to all of these little ones?
You see, I have three little girls of my own back at home. My time is stretched thin providing for them. Could I really be a good mommy and mama? I struggle daily with how to balance both.
People often talk about mommy guilt. It is a concept I understand all too well, being a working mom. I have made many concessions in my career in order to balance work and family.
I work a reduced work week so that I can spend as much time with my girls as possible. So far, it works for us.
But now, I struggle to balance the pressures that come with my not for profit organization work, especially being a mama to these Tanzanian children who stole my heart last November. I am constantly worrying about them, working to secure funding to send them to school, and keeping tabs on their families, many of whom struggle with illness. I spend countless hours on this; late nights and weekends. And, I love every minute of it. But, it does take time away from my little girls…and that causes guilt…mommy guilt. Should I be spending less time working on Mom2Mom Africa and more time with my children…and then other times, I worry about the exact opposite. It seems like I am forever in guilt mode. When I am in Canada, I worry about the children in Tanzania. Yet, booking my next trip to Tanzania in July caused major guilt. I can’t win.
So, I talked to my daughters about this recently. I tried to explain how being a mama and mommy can be really difficult. Thankfully, all three of my girls were supportive beyond their years. My girls are my world. And my work in Tanzania, and the children there, are always in my heart, and mind. I just have to do the best I can at balancing both worlds and hope that I succeed.
I think mommy guilt is a common thread that all of us moms feel at one time or another. We are likely too hard on ourselves and most often are doing a better job than we actually give ourselves credit for. And in the end, I think I can be both a mommy and mama. I just have to be conscious of keeping a healthy balance between both! And I now know my girls will help me keep it all in check! Knowing I have their support eases the mommy guilt, and lets me instead channel that energy into being a good mommy and mama! Or at least the best one that I can be!
Mom2Mom Africa has just launched an indiegogo campaign to build a new school and implement a food program at one of the schools they send students to in the Mom2Mom Africa program. Click HERE if you would like to be a part of this exciting campaign.
Can you relate to the “Mommy Guilt” dilemma?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog By Mom2Mom Founder Alison Fraser.
Photo by Alison Fraser
Anne Frank once said “No one has ever become poor by giving”. What a beautiful thought to keep in mind as we celebrate Giving Tuesday on December 3rd of this year. The act of giving can do wonders for a person’s spirit, soul and general well-being. Whether you give time, financial support, a lending hand, a listening ear or encouraging words, the act of giving is unique in that it often benefits the giver as much, or even more, than the receiver. This is something that I can attest to now more than ever before.
A few weeks ago, I visited Tanzania. I run a small Canadian Not for Profit Organization that works to fund the educational needs of women and children in and around Arusha. This was my first trip to Tanzania and the first time to meet all of the wonderful families that are involved in my organization. Helping these families has always made me feel good. I always felt like it was an equal partnership where I would provide financial assistance through fundraising in Canada and the Tanzanian women and children would allow me a glimpse into their life from afar. However, what I realized from spending ten days with these amazing people is that the partnership really isn’t equal at all. In fact, I truly believe that what I have received from these incredibly strong, spiritual, kind, compassionate and caring families is much more than what I have given them.
The author with a student in Tanzania.
Let me explain how the power of giving has changed my life. I donate countless hours of time to help those in the Mom2Mom Africa organization. Why? It makes me happy.
It fulfills me in ways that I can’t explain. I feel a sense of purpose, like I am making a difference, albeit very small, but nonetheless, a difference in the world. My charity work completes me and makes me feel like a whole person. I can’t explain why…it just does. But, the ten days that I spent in Tanzania last month, visiting families and spending time at the schools has changed my life forever. I have never experienced anything so powerful in all of my life. Yes, I gave up family time to spend in Tanzania and I gave up quite a bit financially to pay for the trip. But, NOTHING could prepare me for what I was given in return. My life has been changed by simply spending time with these families over the course of my time in Africa. They breathed fresh air and a new life into me by just being themselves. Their sense of community, their compassion towards one another, and their love of life despite many struggles has inspired me in ways that I still have yet to process and understand. The power of giving has never been more apparent to me. It can change lives. It has changed mine.
Today, on Giving Tuesday, I am begging you to give of yourself. Whether it be time, a lending hand or financial assistance…give.
Give to someone who may need your help, whether it be across the ocean or right in your backyard. What you will get back in return will outweigh what you have given. I can promise you that. Giving of oneself has the power to change the world in so many ways. It is reciprocal. What you put into giving, will come back to you in abundance.
That is the power of giving. Giving changes all lives involved. As Anne Frank also said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. So give. Change the world. You can do it. What may seem like a small act of giving can mean a world of difference to someone else.
On this Giving Tuesday, consider helping a family in Tanzania by purchasing a personalized desk for our schools, school uniforms, or school textbooks. You will bring a smile to the face of a child in Tanzania. And that, I guarantee, will bring a smile to your face, as well! Happy Giving Tuesday!
How do you plan to give back this Giving Tuesday?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog Written by Alison Fraser.
City of Kitchener Councillor, Kelly Galloway-Sealock, and the author’s three daughters at a 2012 International Day of the Girl Child event
Mark your calendars and celebrate October 11th with your families and in your communities! Why you might ask? Well, the reasons are two-fold. Firstly, October 11th is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday. Eleanor was a world-renowned advocate for human rights and world peace. She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So, how fitting is it that the United Nations has declared October 11th as the International Day of the Girl Child.
This October 11th marks the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. This day will be celebrated worldwide in an effort to bring attention to the human rights of girls around the world, and to highlight the gender-based struggles that so many young girls face daily.
Forced childhood marriages, rape, and female genital mutilation are just some of the issues that many little girls are forced to deal with at very early ages. In many countries, young girls are not valued and as a result are not invested in, particularly when it comes to schooling. The resulting long-term effects are alarming and have been documented in an eye-opening video by the Girl Effect movement. Please watch this video and share with friends and family – it will change the way you see the world. Girl Effect – the clock is ticking!
Last year, the focus of the very first International Day of the Girl Child was child marriage. This year, the focus will be on education. There are so many wonderful ways that you can participate in this important day. Whether you plan a family event or a community event, we all need to ensure that this very important day is recognized. Spread the word – girls are important and need to be valued, respected and treated as equal partners in our local and global communities.
What can you do to honour this important day? You can host a community screening of the Girl Rising film that is receiving acclaim worldwide. You can act to spread the word about struggles some young girls are facing in the world today. You can talk to your children about these critical issues. You can ask your child’s teacher to discuss this day with their class. You can organize a fundraising event in your office/workplace. Whatever you choose to do, whether it be large or small-scale, YOU can make a difference on October 11th!
Last year, my three young daughters tied pink ribbons in their hair and joined a local city councillor on a hike discussing the importance of human rights for all girls. It was a simple but highly effective way to celebrate this day. So many people asked them why they were wearing the ribbons, allowing them to speak about the day in their own words describing what it meant to them. It was so great to see the passion being shared by a younger generation, especially given that many of these issues are often difficult for them to understand and rationalize!
This year, we are planning a yoga event at a local studio for young boys and girls in the community. We are asking for small donations, which will then be used to support the educational needs of girls in Tanzania. In addition, my two older daughters have done small research projects on the significance of the International Day of the Girl Child, and will be presenting all that they have learned to their classmates on October 11th, thanks to the support of their teachers. I encourage you to plan an event too!Your event does not have to be fancy or sophisticated. Sometimes the smallest and simplest acts can have the greatest impact.
Let’s all celebrate October 11th together – girls are worth it!
As Eleanor Roosevelt once said;
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
In what way might you celebrate the Day of The Girl Child?
This is an original World Moms Blog post written by Alison Fraser.
Heather Horsey of Swaysilver jewelry
As we all know, raising children in today’s society can be a financial challenge for many. As mothers, we are often seeking the best deal on the purchases we make. Like many, I do consider myself to be a responsible consumer and I try to purchase from ethical sources.
The recent tragedy in a Bangladesh factory that resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives, however, revealed that some of the stores that I purchase from on a regular basis were in some way or another linked to the poor working conditions of this particular factory.
The majority of those who lost their lives that tragic day were our fellow mothers, working to provide the basis necessities of life to their families.
Those lost in the building collapse have not been far from my thoughts since that day. My appreciation has greatly increased for the companies run by my fellow Canadian moms who I know put the ethical treatment employees as a top priority in their company operations. Peekaboo Beans, Redfish Kids Clothing, KiKi Kids, and Red Thread Design are some of my favourite Canadian brands started and operated by some fabulous Canadian moms.
The success of these businesses lead me to wonder: why can’t all companies choose to manufacture goods in an ethical manner? Isn’t it a fundamental obligation of ours? Why is that for some, despite the obvious financial challenges, this is of such high importance, and yet for many, it is not? In order to address this issue, I decided to speak to a friend and local artisan, who I know has given this very topic much thought and consideration.
Soar bracelet by Heather Horsey
Heather Horsey makes beautiful silver jewellery in my Canadian hometown. She recently designed and marketed a “Teach, Feed, Soar” bracelet benefitting my not for profit organization, Mom2Mom Africa. I asked Heather why she chooses to run her business, Swaysilver, in such an admirable and ethical manner.
Her response was equally as admirable: “It’s no secret that for centuries the jewellery industry has been wrought with social injustices and it’s good to see some headway being made in the ethical production of jewellery by using recycled materials and lab-created gemstones. The metal I use is recycled silver, harvested from catalytic converters from the car manufacturing industry. In my opinion, a lot of good has come out of creating jobs overseas, however, it is in the best interest of everyone to make sure the working conditions are safe and pay is fair”.
It is common knowledge that overseas factories provide a huge cost-savings to many companies, enabling them to provide products to interested purchasers at bargain prices. This is a huge challenge to entrepreneurs, like Heather, who are trying to provide products at a competitive price without compromising ethical standards.
According to Heather, “while bargains are enticing, I’d rather buy from a company that I know is going above and beyond to put caring for people first no matter where the product is being made. Competing in price is a challenge only when it is assumed that I should be able to make by hand something that is quickly made by machine in a factory overseas. I do my best to create designs that are original and artistically interesting in order to set my work apart from something that is mass-produced”.
I truly believe that we need to shift our focus from finding the best possible bargain to instead ensuring that our purchased products are being made in a manner that provides safe and respectable working conditions for employees. I encourage everyone to research the way in which products from your favourite companies are produced. Our actions have a direct impact on the lives of many around the world. It is our moral obligation to help those in need, and not endanger the lives of others in order to benefit ourselves. I encourage you to support local artisans and companies of high ethical standards in your communities.
Saving a few dollars can mean the difference between life and death for others.
As mothers and consumers, we have the power to create change and prevent another needless workplace tragedy.
This is an original World Moms Blog post by Canadian writer and founder of Mom2Mom Africa, Alison Frasier.
Are you conscientious about the ethics and conditions under which the products you purchased are sourced?
In a world where Not for Profit Organizations are often competing against each other for funding and publicity, it is so refreshing to feature a collaborative venture that worked so seamlessly and so successfully.
When Mom2Mom Africa recently collaborated with Global Forces, the result was absolutely amazing and inspiring!
Mom2Mom Africa, a Canadian not for profit organization, that I started not so long ago, funds the education of women and children in Tanzania. As of today, Mom2Mom Africa is providing quality education to 16 children and 5 young women in Tanzania. The primary goal of the organization is, and has always been, to raise funds to pay the school fees of each student, as well as to provide the basic school necessities including textbooks, writing supplies, lunch, and uniforms. In doing so, it was assumed that each student would be well-equipped to be successful in their studies. This was simply not the case. These students don’t have electricity at home, which is something most take for granted and rely upon in daily life. (more…)