Often World Moms contributors are also global travelers, and we are excited that a new travel podcast called Dramatic Travels recently featured two of our contributors. Nicole Melancon had the honor of being the very first Dramatic Travels podcast interview to air, and more recently Elizabeth Atalay shared her travel stories in Episode 9.
Aaron Schlein launched the inspirational family travel podcast Dramatic Travels earlier this year as a resource for family travel, a way to ignite curiosity, and to open people’s minds to the power of travel. In each episode Aaron talks travel with passionate and experienced travelers who are sharing the world, and that love of adventure, with their kids.
Travel opens up a world of possibilities, education, and cross cultural appreciation in a unique and impactful way that no other type experience can. A large part of our mission at World Moms Network is to cultivate cross cultural understand to help build a better world for all of our children. To hear about Nicole and Elizabeth’s travel adventures and how they are sharing their love of travel with their families you can listen to their podcast interviews here:
Nicole Melancon is a freelance journalist, blogger, and social good advocate living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her husband and two children. A world wanderer at heart, she has visited over 40 countries for both work and pleasure and is still wandering.
Nicole founded her blog, ThirdEyeMom, in 2010 after a life-changing trip to Nepal where she trekked the Annapurna circuit with her father. Landing in India, she received her “third eye” which symbolizes wisdom. It reinforced her strong belief that you must view the world with a third-eye and as openly as possible. On ThirdEyeMom Nicole writes about travel, culture and social good issues focusing on poverty, global health, education, human rights, women and girls’ empowerment, food security and the environment. She is a member of Impact Travel Alliance Media Network, an alliance of journalists, content creators and social media influencers around the world who are passionate about sustainable tourism, and she volunteers with Travel+SocialGood Blog Coordinator.
In May of 2013 Nicole traveled to India as a member of Mom Bloggers for Social Good to report on water, sanitation, newborn health, and education. In July 2014, she traveled to Ethiopia to report on newborn and maternal health as a fellow with the International Reporting Project, and was a Social Good Fellow for the UN Foundation Social Good Summit, and chosen to attend ONE Women and Girls first AYA Summit in Washington DC in 2015. In July 2015, Nicole climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with Solar Sister, a non-profit organization that brings solar electrify to Sub-Saharan Africa. She has been on two separate press trips to Haiti in 2015 and 2017, and reviewed an all-women’s learn to surf camp in Nicaragua in 2016. Most recently she travelled to Kenya to work on the 2018 Follow the Liters Campaign with LifeStraw where the mission was to deliver safe water to the one millionth child.
Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer and Managing Editor at World Moms Network. In 2016 she traveled to Haiti to visit artisans in partnership with Heart of Haiti and the Artisans Business Network. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. In 2013 Elizabeth traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa with Social Good Moms report on reproductive health and a women’s collective in Alexandra Township. At Documama.org she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsblog.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world but home is in New England with her husband and four children.
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This is an original post for World Moms Network.
My teenager has had a rough few months. She came to me with the information that she felt suicidal and had a plan to end her own life.
I brought her to our local emergency room, where my baby girl had her clothes taken away, an alarm strapped to her wrist, and a room right across from the nurses’ station where she could be constantly monitored. After a long day of evaluations, testing, and phone calls, my child was transferred to another hospital that had a juvenile psychiatric ward.
After her stay in the psychiatric ward, my daughter enrolled in a partial hospitalization program.
Her clinician there told me I needed to lock up all of our household medication and anything sharp. Knives in the kitchen, razors in the bathroom, and even child safety scissors that couldn’t cut hair all had to be locked up in a metal container, not plastic, as plastic could be broken fairly quickly. I asked the woman telling me all of this whether this level of action was necessary for a teenager who had only had thoughts of hurting herself without acting on any of those ideas.
My daughter’s clinician told me that nothing would really, truly keep my child safe if she was determined to hurt herself. The goal in locking up those medications and sharp objects was to make it more difficult for her to act impulsively if she felt the urge to self-harm. I have thought about those words frequently these past few days. We live in a society where weapons are easily obtainable. Somehow, our society has not yet realized that legally allowing such free access to semi-automatic weapons is allowing people like my daughter, whose mental states are not where they should be, to be able to make spontaneous decisions to harm themselves or others.
Let me be clear: I am not talking about criminals here. People who want to break the law will find ways to do so, and I will not waste my words bickering over why changing the laws won’t do anything to stop lawbreakers. I am talking about people who are mostly law-abiding but are struggling with serious mental health issues or going through extremely emotionally charged situations, such as a horrific divorce. I am also not talking about infringing on anyone’s Second Amendment rights. I’m not arguing that US citizens shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.
I am, however, stating that any random U.S. citizen should not be able to obtain whatever kind of weapon they desire whenever they want it. No one told me I couldn’t keep scissors in my house while my daughter struggles with depression and anxiety. Her doctors and therapists realized that scissors would be present, much like guns will always be present in our country. Instead, her doctors told me how to prevent my child from using those scissors to hurt herself on an impulse while she battles depression. When my daughter needs to use scissors for a project, I’m going to give her the child safety scissors instead of something sharp enough to cut or stab herself. Our country should likewise exercise caution.
The Second Amendment was written long before the invention of today’s weaponry. We should update our gun laws. Horrible impulses to hurt other people with semi-automatic weapons should not be able to be planned and performed as easily as they are today.
Knowing my daughter’s current battles with anxiety and depression, I am concerned about the day she is old enough to legally obtain a gun. She is medicated and receiving treatment at the moment, but I will not always be around to watch out for her mental state. God willing, my child will fully recover and live a long and healthy, happy life. Regardless, I want our country to come together and make it more difficult for my child to obtain a gun, so if she does ever again have that impulsive thought to end her own life, it will be harder for her to do so.
This is an original post submitted to World Moms Network. The author has been verified by our editing team, but has requested to remain anonymous.
For more on gun control in the USA and how you can help, see “World Voice: Parkland Students Leading the Way for Gun Reform.”
Photo credit to Kevin Doncaster. This photo has a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Shelves empty as people stock up
Puerto Rico is a US Territory an the Caribbean. There are 3.4 million American citizens living there and yet two months later many homes are still without electricity, and still some without running water.
Maria came thirteen days after Hurricane Irma, another category 5 hurricane, passed north of us. Irma devastated some of the neighboring islands, and left us without power for three days. People prepared well. Our house was covered with storm shutters, we had collected water and purchased bottled water, batteries and non-perishable food. Irma came on September 6th and 7th, and by September 10th, the kids were back in school. At the university we were back as well.
All of the organizations that we belong to – the kids’ school, the university, the gymnastics club, the soccer club – arranged activities to send supplies to the islands of St Martin, Anguila and Barbuda. I donated different items to all of them. Like myself, many people donated things they had bought to prepare for Irma, and ended up not using. Although we had been hearing about Irma for a while, we were never in its direct path. The northern turn that was predicted happened later than expected and took it closer to us, but it still passed north of us.
Around September 14th, we started hearing that there was a weather disturbance that was a threat to Puerto Rico. On Saturday September 16th, citizens were told that the storm, still a tropical depression, might pass over the island. My father called me and said that we all needed to prepare. At 5:00 p.m., tropical storm Maria had formed.
On Sunday September 17th, I woke up before the rest of the family to buy more supplies, since we had donated much of what we had. The first stop was WalMart. Although it was only 8:15 a.m., they were already out of bottled water. I bought a few things and went to Sams Club. There was no bottled water there either, but I bought batteries for our flashlights. I went to Walgreens next: no water there either. At Ralph’s, a local grocery chain, I was able to buy one of the last five cases of water left. I went home and started washing clothes. By 5:00 p.m., Hurricane Maria had formed as a Category 1.
On Monday September 18th, classes at the university were canceled. The kids were in school, so my husband and I went to work to wrap a few things up. I then went to renew my car insurance which was due on September 30th. I got a message from my sister-in-law telling me that Sams Club had water. I went, and was able to get two cases as per the family limit. I went to WalMart in search of tank tops, knowing it was going to be hot, and I found a small battery-operated radio that someone had left behind in a cart. This $12.50 contraption was to become our best friend. I filled up the tank – gas stations had started rationing, but my ration was enough to fill the tank. I finished my shopping at a grocery store a quarter of a mile from our house: I bought things like Vienna Sausage, Spam, canned pasta, chicken, and corn.
Back home, I continued securing things around the house, washing everything including the bathroom rugs, and cleaned the house. I took my daughter to gymnastics practice and while there, the 8:00 p.m. news bulletin announced that Maria was now a Category 5 hurricane. My youngest brother called me and asked me for shelter, since he did not have storm shutters and has a three-year-old child. I welcomed them but asked them to bring pillows, blankets, towels, water and any food the baby might need.
Lineups grow as a gas shortage looms
My husband got cash, and topped his car up as well.
Tuesday September 19th. Almost ready. We finished cleaning the last corner of the house and washing all of the clothes. We made sure all of our devices were charged.
In the end we had seven people (four adults, one teen, one tween, one toddler) and one dog. For this we had about 150 bottles of water, rice, whole and refried beans, juice, rice, pasta, flashlights and the batteries, canned meats, and veggies and snacks. We also had our 450 gallon water reservoir and whatever water we could collect in empty containers. The freezer had four bags of ice, about fifteen bottles of water and ten quart sized Ziploc bags full of water.
At around 2:00 p.m. we thought we were ready. Little did we know…
This is a guest post for World Moms Network by Tania Malave. Photo credit to the author.
World Moms Network and the Heartfulness Institute have partnered to bring forth a series of online monthly webinar workshops for women called GLOW which stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’. This helps women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation from the comfort of their homes or workplace. The aim is to help women integrate meditation into their daily lives to achieve a more peaceful and balanced life, and a better environment. Each webinar will also feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, and are influencers and change makers.
Topic of discussion – Nourishment for the Autism Family
#WorldMoms Kirsten Doyle
Kirsten Doyle one of the top “Ten Inspiring Canadian Women” (2012) and Toronto’s top thirty parenting bloggers, is a writer and editor, who is actively involved in raising awareness in the Autism community. She and her blog, “RunningForAutism.com” are resources for parents of children diagnosed with Autism. It is her belief that with the right environment and support, all children with autism are capable of shining in their own special way.
Before moving to Canada, Kirsten Doyle got a degree in psychology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her elder son, now thirteen years old was diagnosed with autism when he was four. As she navigated the autism journey, she has understood how families can be impacted by the presence of a developmental disability. She is an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness. Each year, she participates in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, a major Canadian initiative in support of mental health. As a regular half-marathoner, she is a firm believer in the link between mental health and physical activity.
Kirsten attended her first Heartfulness Meditation session a year ago. She hopes to explore possibilities of Relaxation Techniques offered by Heartfulness Institute to help children with Autism.
What is autism and how is it diagnosed?
What causes and what does not cause autism.
Blessings that come with autism.
Care for families, siblings, with the condition of autism.
An excellent support system is available with the Heartfulness Institute for people and families having Autism.
An experiential session of Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation.
Who should attend?
Everyone interested to learn more about the condition of Autism.
People and families with the presence of Autism amidst their loved ones.
Anyone who would love to hang around with the amazing women and men who join GLOW webinars every month.
Date & Time: April 20th, 2017, 7:00 PM IST, 9:30 AM EST
For further information write to GLOW@heartfulness.org
I’m 36 + weeks pregnant, so last week I packed my hospital bags, checked them in at the airport, and hopped on an international flight. Destination: Cape Town, South Africa, where sunshine, ocean waves, beaches, mouthwatering fresh seafood, mountains, and stretches of vineyards await. My new life rule is that I only have babies near sunshine and oceans.
When you’re an expat about to give birth, and you reside in Lusaka, Zambia, you hightail it out of Zambia to welcome baby into the world. Some of us head to the U.S., and others to places like the U.K., and a few of us to South Africa. South Africa has some of the most top-notch medical care on the African continent. Did I mention the oceans and beaches? Plus penguins. Babies love penguins.
A few of us expats decide to go ahead and give birth in Zambia. Of course, I have friends, both local and expat, who have given birth to healthy babies in Zambia without incident. Lots of babies are born there, with a fertility rate of nearly six children per woman.
Since this is my fourth birth, I seriously contemplated staying in Zambia to give birth. With three natural and uncomplicated births under my belt (except that pesky postpartum hemorrhage thing that plagues me each time), it’s been pretty straightforward so far.
A birth in Zambia would be less complicated logistically. My husband can’t be gone from work for the whole one month before and one month after the birth. My four-year old can probably afford to miss pre-school without risking failing to get into college, but my six-year old is learning how to read and write – in a second language (French) – this year, so it’s not really fair to her to pull her out for two whole months, either. I suppose, with the support of Google Translate, I could make some attempts at homeschooling….no. Just no. Plus, there’s the familiarity, the friends, the easiness in Lusaka. Planning a birth in a different country requires more paperwork, emails, phone calls, and really savvy packing skills.
I put out some feelers and asked people’s opinions about giving birth in Lusaka. I got many stories of uneventful births that resulted in a happy baby and mother, and some recommendations for good OBs. I see a lovely OB who has the most caring bedside manner, and is available to instantly answer questions by text message (that does NOT happen in the U.S.), but unfortunately she doesn’t deliver babies anymore.
Others graced my ears with stories about the mother who needed an emergency C-section, but the medical team couldn’t get a hold of the anesthesiologist, so she had a C-section without medication. Then there was the woman who had her arms and legs strapped down during a normal vaginal childbirth, and the one who lost her baby during child birth due to poor management and care—at a private hospital in Lusaka. My doctor friends in Zambia asked me if I was crazy—one directly, and one indirectly. My lovely OB providing prenatal care for me in Lusaka laughed.
The reason for these responses is because babies die in Zambia, and mothers do too. According to UNICEF, the maternal mortality rate in Zambia is 591 deaths per 100,000 live births, the neonatal mortality rate is 34 per 1,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate is 70 per 1,000 live births. Even for those who can afford private care in the capital, Lusaka, being pregnant and giving birth is risky business. Simple complications—including postpartum hemorrhage—can go from bad to worse because of poor infrastructure, care, and a slew of other issues. (For more information about maternal health care in Zambia, check out the trailer for this fascinating documentary.)
The message was loud and clear—most likely, if I gave birth in Lusaka, everything would be fine. But, if I have the choice and the means, why would I take the risk of that small chance of something going wrong and me or my baby suffering serious health complications or worse?
So, around 20 weeks pregnant I began to plan an international babycation. I did this once before, less than two years ago. My last baby was born in Cape Town, so that helped quite a bit, especially because I used the same midwives, know the area, etc. Another bonus is that water birth is an option here in Cape Town, similar to an alternative birthing center option within a hospital that I used to deliver my first two in Chicago. There were less unknowns this time around with planning babycation round #2.
Everything is relative. Buying plane tickets for a family of five, plus a nanny, renting a house for two months, as well as a car, and paying for private health care in South Africa adds up. This is clearly cost prohibitive to most people, and I understand this inherent privilege of choice for my ocean-side babycation.
But, if I compare this Cape Town babycation cost to the cost of giving birth in the U.S., it’s at worst equal, and at best a cost-savings. For what I will pay for all my private health care, including an at-home post-natal visit and a couple nights in the hospital, combined with the cost of my two month “babycation” in South Africa…I’ll end up paying about the same or less than what I’d pay for the cost of childbirth alone in the U.S. I can pay $12,000 minimum, out-of-pocket in the US to push a baby out of me (without any medical intervention), or I can pay about $2,000 for the exact same quality of care and facility standards in Cape Town…along with all the perks of glorious sunshine and ocean views. I’ll take the penguins, thank you very much.
Our family of five, plus our nanny from Zambia, packed up with three suitcases and a boatload of car seats, and my husband helped me settle into the lovely house we rented on AirBnB in Kalk Bay, overlooking the ocean. But, my husband returned this past weekend to Lusaka with my six- and four-year old children to resume school and work.
So, here I sit with an 18-month old, nanny, and loads of sunshine and water at nearly 37 weeks pregnant. The baby is measuring at a beautiful 3kg already, and I’m having some super maddening Braxton Hicks contractions. My husband is two flights away (Lusaka- Johannesburg- Cape Town), and can get on a flight from Lusaka at 9am and rock-up into Cape Town by 3:30pm.
If baby decides to make a quick, slippery exit, Papa might miss the birth of his baby – which would be sad. He was pretty helpful the last three times – except when he told me during difficult push during crowning, “It’s just like doing back squats.” No, it’s really not like that at all. But, I’d kind of like him to be with me for the birth. So, I have the calming effect of going to sleep to the sound of ocean waves obliterated by the anxiety of my husband missing the birth. This is not a, “Will my husband make it from the office on time?” worry. It’s a, “Will my husband, with two tiny humans in tow, be able to get on the first flight out of Lusaka and make it through immigration, out of the airport, and to the hospital?”
My husband and two oldest kids plan on returning to Cape Town on April 1, 10 days before this bad boy’s due date. In the meantime, I have some amazing mama friends coming in (one from Kenya, one from Zambia) to keep me company before the crew returns, mostly to have fun and to stand-in for my husband— just in case. The next two weeks will be filled with botanical gardens, delicious food, and sea breezes. Not too shabby a way to waddle through these last few pregnancy weeks.
The next question is—will I be able to make this my last babycation? Those penguins!
This is an original guest post for World Moms Network from Jessica Menon of Gypsy Momma. Jess is a mom with three children under the age of six, with her fourth baby on the way. Jess and her family are currently based in Lusaka, Zambia.
Photos courtesy of Alda Smith. Photo of penguins and Jess and her youngest daughter at the beach courtesy of the author.