SPECIAL REPORT: Our Family’s Plea after the #EcuadorEarthquake

SPECIAL REPORT: Our Family’s Plea after the #EcuadorEarthquake

In the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Ecuador, the people of my husband’s home country are on our minds and in our hearts, and we are very much in touch. Today, I am giving them a voice on World Moms Blog…

Beautiful Ecuador

Beautiful Ecuador. A photo from the hacienda belonging to my husband’s family in Cuenca.

Ecuador is the home of the Galapagos Islands, aromatic coffee, delicious chocolate, and my husband. He was born and raised in Cuenca, a charming colonial city in the mountains. Although we reside in the United States with our two children, my husband always makes it a point that we always stay connected to the place he still refers to as home. We got engaged on his hacienda (family’s land), honeymooned in the Galapagos Islands, and continue to vacation in Ecuador every year. My children love visiting with their abuela and primos and enjoy all the natural splendors that their father’s home country has to offer. Ecuador is always very much in our minds and in our hearts.

So, on April 16th when we heard the news that a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the country, we were a little rattled ourselves.

We learned that my husband’s family was safe, and although they were over 200 miles away from the epicenter they felt the tremors of the quake. They explained that the ground thunderously shook for over a minute, rattling chandeliers and unhinging doors. It was like nothing they had ever experienced before.

What remains or a gift shop in Manta, Ecuador after a series of recent earthquakes in April 2016. Manta is Ecuador's largest seaport on the Pacific ocean.

What remains of a gift shop in Manta, Ecuador after a series of recent earthquakes recently in April 2016. Manta is Ecuador’s largest seaport on the Pacific ocean.

The epicenter was located in the coastal region of Ecuador, which includes some port cities, picturesque coastal towns and small fishing communities. Buildings crumbled to the ground, over 600 people were killed and thousands were displaced from their homes. Most of the area impacted is very poor with limited infrastructure, most of which was destroyed. Initial efforts focused on emergency response and rescue. Organizations like the Ecuadorian Red Cross (Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana) along with other civil and governmental organizations were mobilized quickly.

Yellow tape marked "Peligro" warns people of danger after the roof and balcony collapse of a building in Manta, Ecuador after the earthquakes in April 2016.

Yellow tape marked “Peligro” warns people of danger after the roof and balcony collapse of a building in Manta, Ecuador after the earthquakes in April 2016.

Based on my experience, this is a small and proud country. People boast about everything Ecuadorian including their fruit, wildlife, history and rich traditions. During this difficult time, they have pulled together to help their fellow compatriotas.

My husband’s family helped stock a mobile hospital that headed to the area immediately after the quake to provide emergency health care. Others provided food, clothing and basic essentials. In the days following the earthquake it became clear that the needs of the people were growing and that the rebuilding process was going to be slow. Access to clean water has become critical. Imagine not having safe water to drink or cook?

Once again, local families and companies in the surrounding areas joined together to provide water treatment equipment to service a small portion of those affected. They are making steps forward, but it’s still a long road ahead. There are many organizations that are still offering assistance in the area, according to our family there. One of them is Oxfam, which is working with the Ecuador government to provide safe water and storage to the area. The organization is also focusing on sanitation measures to prevent water borne diseases, especially among children and senior citizens. My family in Ecuador has seen Oxfam’s work on the ground and asked us to donate. We, in turn, are helping to spread the word.

A tin collapsed and bent tin roof and tilted building supports lean atop brick rubble in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Manta, Ecuador in April 2016.

A collapsed and bent tin roof and damaged building supports lean atop brick rubble in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Manta, Ecuador last month, April 2016.

The phrase si se puede is a phrase that enthusiastic Ecuadorian sports fans chant to support their teams.  It means “yes, we can.”  This phrase has become the motto of the relief efforts.

From the hearts of my family and the people of Ecuador who are in dire need of clean water in the aftermath of the earthquake, please consider donating to Oxfam to help the people of Ecuador see that the country’s chants of “si se puede” will overcome this natural disaster.

Angela and her husband on honeymoon in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador in

Angela and her husband on honeymoon in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador after they first married in her husband’s home country 10 years ago.

This is an original guest post from a World Moms Blog reader, Angela Vega, who is mom in the USA of two sensitive and curious children who keep her very busy.  Before deciding to stay home with her children, Angela worked in the field of marketing and advertising. She earned an undergraduate degree from Villanova University and an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, where she met her husband.

Photo credits of the earthquake damage and hacienda to Pedro Vega on the ground in Ecuador.

Photo credit to the author for the honeymoon photo.

 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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WORLD VOICE: Providing Sanitary Products for Sisters in Need

WORLD VOICE: Providing Sanitary Products for Sisters in Need

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Photo Credit: Jennifer Lovallo

What would you take with you if had to leave at a moment’s notice? Other than the clothes on my back and possibly some photos of my family, there would be nothing else that I would carry with me. For those fleeing dangerous situations, as in the case of Syrian refugees, so much emphasis is placed on the welfare of men and children, but what about the needs of women, especially when it involves their hygiene?

In Essex, England, three women are making a difference in the lives of Syrian women with regard to this issue. Helen McDonald, Megan Saliu and Helen Pudney founded SOS Calais, or Supporting Our Sisters in Calais. Together they organized drives to collect sanitary pads and had them delivered to the one of the biggest refugee camps in Calais, France where women make up 10% of the population. Donating food, water and personal products are just as necessary, but for women, menstrual products are crucial.

For most women, menstrual products are easily accessible, but for women who have been displaced due to crisis situations, access is virtually impossible.

In addition to access, there is the question of safety for these women. The women McDonald, Saliu and Pudney encountered in Calais were in their twenties and outnumbered by men in the same camp. These women are forced to look out for themselves to avoid harassment due to minimal or no security or support for them otherwise. Providing these women with products specifically for them gives them a sense of inclusion and empowerment.

For someone like me who has experienced moments of embarrassment or horror for not having sanitary pads when I’ve needed them, it’s quite disconcerting to know that these women are forced to find alternative means to take care of their needs, especially with menstrual products. It is an unfortunate byproduct of being torn from one’s home or country as a result of war or oppression and it is unrealistic to think that women and children are less affected than men.

Women in these environments become targets as a way to weaken their resolve in achieving independence and have to rely on others for help or do without. With the crowdfunding page created by McDonald, Saliu and Pudney, they intend to raise awareness of how crucial it is to provide these women with their needs. It is up to us, and the rest of the world, to step up and ensure that everyone, especially women in crisis environments, get their needs met. It’s the least we can do for them and future generations.

Read the original article that inspired this post, and find out more about this fundraising effort, and how you can help.

What other basic needs would you have if you had to flee on short notice?

This is an original guest post written by Tes Silverman for World Moms Blog.

643977_4650501065206_366589375_nTes Silverman was born in the Manila, Philippines and has been a New Yorker for more than 30 years. Moving from the Philippines to New York opened the doors to the possibility of a life of writing and travel. Before starting a family, she traveled to Iceland, Portugal, Brussels, and France, all the while writing about the people she met through her adventures. After starting a family, she became a freelance writer for publications such as Newsday’s Parents & Children and various local newspapers. Four years ago, she created her blog, The Pinay Perspective. PinayPerspective.com is designed to provide women of all ages and nationalities the space to discuss the similarities and differences on how we view life and the world around us. As a result of her blog, she has written for BlogHer.com and been invited to attend and blog about the Social Good Summit and Mom+Social Good. Currently residing in Huntington, NY with her husband, sixteen year-old daughter and nine year-old Morkie, she continues to write stories of women and children who make an impact in their communities and provide them a place to vocalize their passions.

 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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INDONESIA: Kites as Pastime or Offering to the Gods?

INDONESIA: Kites as Pastime or Offering to the Gods?

 

WMB Bali Kite Flying 2

Dry season on the island of Bali brings along some really strong winds; the whistling, tree bending kind. It’s still extremely hot, but at least the afternoon winds are refreshing, making it the perfect conditions for kite flying season.

This year I promised the kiddos that I would get them a kite to fly in the park. I found a little shop close to the school that sold some inexpensive kites in the shapes of dragonflies. I bought a red, black and yellow one and took the kiddos to the Lapagnan Puputan Park after class. In fact, the lady that sold me the kite spoke to me in her native Indonesian and said the kite was 15 thousand rupiahs, but I understood 50 thousand. Thankfully, she was kind enough to chase after me with my change when I had already walked away with the kite. Expat life…

The winds were so strong that it really was not that easy. Unfortunately, our string wasn’t a full constant thread but had a knot tying two pieces together. It didn’t take long for it to break with the wind. Big Kiddo decided to run while holding the kite and he had a better time of it. On that note, next is a photo from a much more successful kite flying attempt he had with his father weeks prior by the ocean. Check out his airplane kite!

WMB Bali Kite Flying Child

We love seeing the kites everywhere, out the windows of our house and when we drive somewhere the kiddos always find new ones with beautiful colors and start counting how many owl shaped ones or how many fish ones they see on a trip somewhere.

Kite flying in Bali is not just a pastime for the kids; it is a cultural and religious phenomenon that takes over life itself for the entire dry season.

Between May and September, the sky is spotted with kites, of all sizes and colors; many are as far away as a kilometer it would seem (I’m sure it’s not that far up, but it feels like that).

Everywhere you look there are kids flying small kites, in parks and beaches there are groups of men flying giant kites, on the sidewalks kids making kites out of sticks and plastic bags.

There is no piece of sky untouched by a kite on a string. You may even trip on one if you aren’t paying attention. If the winds are good, the kids will tie their kite to a rock or tree and play ball while it flies.

Why are kites so important in Bali?

Kites are seen as an offering to the gods, a fun way to appease the demons, and good old competition. All with the hopes of having a successful harvest that year.

Apart from the kites for children, there are ceremonial kites that can be so big they need teams of 10 men to fly. They come in different combinations of red, black and white.

WMB Bali Kite Flying 3

Every August, the village of Sanur holds a kite flying competition on the beach. There are three different categories, the classic fish shape kite, kites with a tail that can be as long as a 100 meters, and “new creation” kites which are usually animals or other crazy constructions.

Every team of kite fliers has flyers, flag bearers, and Gamelan musicians to accompany the flying of the kites. The competition consists of points for best launch, height of flight, length of flight and amount of control. Kudos for the kites that don’t fall to the ground!

Made with very thin cloth sewn onto bamboo sticks, the traditional fish-shaped kite is the kind that the kids learn to make at school with pieces of plastic bags. Once the kites are ready to be taken somewhere to fly, be it for the competition or for practice, the flying teams pack up the kites together on a truck, stopping traffic for almost an hour. Whenever we run into one, the kiddos love seeing what kinds of kites are being packed on the truck.

Given my own attempts at kite flying, perhaps next time we’ll just enjoy watching the experts!

This is an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Orana Velarde of Bali, Indonesia. She can be found on her blog, Crazy Little Family Adventure

Photo credits to the author. 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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GUEST POST: INDIA: Pregnancy and Solar Eclipses!

GUEST POST: INDIA: Pregnancy and Solar Eclipses!

Indian Pregnancy Eclipse

Total Eclipse of My Pregnancy

In India, some say the most awesome time of any woman’s life is when they get pregnant. You have life in your body, share all that you feel and have lots of company. This is also a time when  you will have your husband doing everything thing for you, provided you ask for it. However, if you happen to be a woman who has a pseudo ego of being self reliant and who has never asked for many favours in life, this is not a comfortable time. This was me.

Looking back, it was silly not to have taken advantage of the help of my husband and my extended joint family including, my mother in law, co sister, their respective husbands and their daughters, all of whom I still live with. It’s true. We, Indians, live like this with lot of people to give us company all the time. We hate and love them simultaneously.

I wanted to be so self reliant that I never wanted them to cook anything special for me!! Not even once during my all nine months. I made it to term although my whole extended family wanted me to deliver my child as early as possible, probably in the first month!! They were just too excited to welcome a new member in the house and extend the extended family a little more. It had been 18 years since our family had the chance to welcome new cute baby!

However, their enthusiasm was a little too overwhelming, as even my doctors suggested mildly to get a C section done after I crossed 36th month. My family had become restless and could not wait. As a mother I was excited to meet my baby, too, but I wanted my child when the time was right. Not early and not late. And, I adhered to that. I did not succumb to any pressure.

Well, ok, I was strong except for when it came to my aunties…

During my pregnancy, thrice I received calls from my frantic, superstitious aunties who in their whole life had never ever called me before. They began to instruct me to observe precautions embedded in our ancient culture and told me not do certain things. It was clear that if their precautions weren’t heeded following and during a solar or lunar eclipse, my child and I would be harmed. There was no scientific proof, of course! Here are some of the things they demanded of me during an eclipse:

Do not cross your feet

Sit in one position

Do not use scissors, knife or blade

Do not stitch

Do not drink water

Do not let any rays fall on you

Sit in only one room, close the door

Do not watch  television

In short, it was total eclipse of my pregnancy!! Every year, lunar or solar eclipses do happen.  But if you are pregnant, they say it can harm you more than the normal people. I never quite understood whether pregnant women carry any special energy around them. Or do eclipses have special power to judge human beings? Oh she is pregnant I will harm her; oh she is women I will harm her less and this is unborn child I can harm even more.

Only Indian pregnant women will get affected by eclipses and no one else on this planet. I did bow down to the pressure. I did stay home and did exactly what was told to me, though with no personal faith but to please everyone around me. Oh, I did not want anything to go wrong with my unborn baby!

The pregnant women are strictly advised not to venture out during eclipse. It is still believed by lot of people in India that if you do anything prescribed above, your baby might become handicapped or disabled and the probability of miscarriage is increased. If you stitch cloth your child may have cleft lip. It is funny and there is no scientific explanation to all these. And there is no proven fact that it can actually cause harm. However, looking at a solar eclipse with naked eyes can harm your eyes irrespective of you being pregnant or not pregnant.

For millions of years humans have given birth and been pregnant along with other species during the time when there happened to be an eclipse. It is improbable that an eclipse can cause a direct negative impact by singling out pregnant women. There are many children who are born with a disability and cleft lip in-spite of following all of the “rules”. So, since there is no scientific explanation and eclipses do not have special power to differentiate, between whether you are Indian or not, do not get carried away! I complied with these instructions from my superstitious aunties during my pregnancy to keep everyone happy. The best thing to do? Take medical advice and do not panic.

What about you? Did you receive any advice unique to your culture when you were pregnant?

Or, did you find yourself doing something you didn’t believe in while pregnant just to please others? Let’s hear it! 

This is a an original guest post to World Moms Blog by Vineeta Jain of Kolkata, India. Vineeta is an award winning media professional specializing in radio. And she did not hold any scissors while pregnant during an eclipse! 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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GUEST POST: Caitlin Domanico of United We Feed #WorldMoms

GUEST POST: Caitlin Domanico of United We Feed #WorldMoms

Her feature on The Huffington Post is going viral, and her e-mail inbox is currently overflowing with media requests. Caitlin Domanico of “United We Feed” is a World Mom on a mission through photography to unite mothers in how we feed our babies. We look forward to following the journey she has launched as she continues to capture the diversity of mothers feeding their babies around the globe. We are excited to bring you her guest post on World Moms Blog today…  

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To the mom who is feeding her baby,

You decided how to feed your child long before they were ever born.

“I am going to breastfeed.”, you said. Or maybe you said, “Nursing is not for me, I will pump.”  Maybe neither of those were an option for you. Maybe formula was your milk of choice, or maybe, just maybe, your doctor informed you that it will be necessary to use a tube to help your child thrive.

I see you. I see you feeding your child every single day.

I see you feeding your child on very happy days, and on very sad days.

I see you feed while you sing and coo and gaze into your baby’s eyes.

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I see you feed while you are filled with pain and sorrow, as you try to find a smile through the tears.

You feed at first thing in the morning, you feed in the wee hours of the night while the rest of the world is sleeping.

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You feed while you are out to eat, and while you are on vacation.

When you are at work or at the store, you leave your baby with a loving caregiver and ensure they have enough to feed your little one.

One thing is very apparent while noticing you and your baby — the insurmountable amount of love that exists between you.

You smile and your baby smiles. You frown and your baby frowns.

Your baby holds your shirt, your hand, twirls your hair, and kicks her feet with joy and contentment.

Your baby loves you and you are smitten over him.

Maybe your bottle was filled with pumped milk, or maybe is filled with formula, but that doesn’t matter to me.

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Maybe your baby gets her milk from you while breastfeeding, or maybe she nuzzles in close and as her pump delivers milk directly into her stomach so that she can grow and develop, but either way, it doesn’t matter to me.

I know it matters to you, and it should.

Please don’t take that to mean I don’t care, and that I don’t respect your choices as a mother, because actually, it is quite the opposite.

I care.

I care about you as a mother.

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I care about your beautiful child.

I support and respect you, because you are a good mom. There are so many ways to be a good mom, and you are one of the best.

You see, I fed my first child with breast milk and formula, and now, six-years-later, she is a gem. We are close, so close that at times, I wonder how I ever lived without her.  She had both types of milk and she is absolutely lovely, just like your little one.  My second daughter only had breast milk, a decision she made when she refused a bottle. She is incredible, just like your little one. She loves her mama and takes every opportunity to snuggle in close, just like your little one. I know where you have been, because I had the cherished task of feeding my babies, too.

Motherhood is tough, and mommy guilt has worn-out it’s welcome here.

Tonight, when you hold your dear one close and feed them before bed, feel proud that you are apart of a community of women who love fiercely, protect feverishly, and support one another, no matter how they choose to feed their babies!

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xoxo,

United We Feed

About the Author: 

Caitlin Domanico grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on a small horse farm.  Now a mother of two, Ava (6) and Genevieve (nearly 2), Caitlin resides in Montgomery County with her daughters and her husband.  She operates a photography studio in the center of her town, where she focuses on capturing families and specifically, documenting motherhood.  During the week, Caitlin can be found having dance parties with her daughters, photographing families, or part-time teaching as a special education teacher in birth-3 services. Caitlin’s photo series “United We Feed” had gained international recognition for empowering and uniting women and the many ways they nourish their babies. For more photos head to her photography site

Photo credits to Caitlin Domanico. This has been an original guest post to World Moms Blog from Pennsylvania, USA. 

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

GUEST POST: SINGAPORE–Our Little Island Charm

SingaporeCity_jdoquinnTwo months ago, we had our first experience going to a medical clinic in a foreign country.

Come to think of it, we managed nearly four years in Paris without needing to do so. It helped that we lived across the street from a pharmacy (a distinct Parisian ‘landmark’). Those days, we relied heavily on self-medication and the advice of our friendly pharmacist.

This time around, these options couldn’t cut it. Our 22 month-old daughter had already been ill for a week and wasn’t getting any better.

Having only recently arrived in Abu Dhabi, we had no idea about which pediatrician to consult. Armed with a recommendation from a mum’s group, I called up only to find out with some panic that the earliest appointment was in four days’ time. After some frantic telephone conversations with my husband, we made a dash for a walk-in clinic which closed its doors at 1pm.

While this may be common in many countries, it is not something that we would have encountered back home. In Singapore, we could always see our pediatrician at short notice after a quick phone call. This was always reassuring, especially for first-time parents who made a big deal out of every rise in temperature or unusual cough.

Our experience at the clinic made me a little homesick and left me wishing for many things, big and small, that we often take for granted back in Singapore.

This feeling was further intensified a few days later, when news broke that Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, had passed away.

Amid the numerous news reports and posts on social media from friends and folks back home, I felt a keen sadness for the nation’s loss of the man who made Singapore what she is today.

Countless politicians, heads of state, journalists and media outlets inundated us with statements, commentaries and judgements on the life and impact of our “giant of history”. I leave this to them.

What I’ve been mulling over, what preoccupies me as a parent, is what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy entails; it’s what he has left Singaporeans, our future generations and my daughter.

Every opportunity is available to my daughter:

  • She has access to education from an early age and will never have to struggle for the right to go to school.
  • She can run around freely in our neighbourhood and enjoy her childhood innocence in playgrounds.
  • She can go out with her mother now, or alone in the future, without restriction or the necessity of being accompanied by a male presence.
  • She can travel around our little island on public transport, and see marvellous skyscrapers and iconic buildings, all set amidst verdant flora.
  • Her safety outside our home is not an issue that her father or I have to worry our heads about, neither does she need to be anxious over whether her parents will get home safely at the end of the day.
  • She will have friends from so many different cultures and nationalities, and she can be proud of being able to claim heritage from multiple cultures.

Every opportunity awaits my daughter, for her to make something out of it.

For these and many other reasons, my heart hangs heavy and yet swells with pride for our tiny island and I long for the next time we arrive again at Changi Airport, to see the sign “Welcome Home”. It is a home and country that a visionary built. It may not be a perfect place but my daughter has so many things to be thankful for.

This is an original, first post to World Moms Blog from KC, who is currently stationed with her family in Abu Dhabi but born and bred in Singapore. This is their first international job posting with their daughter, TT, who is now 22 months old. You can read more about Singaporean-expat life through KC’s eyes on her blog, Mummy In Transit, or through her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mummyintransit .

The image used in this post is credited to the author’s friend, Jacob O’Quinn, and is used here with permission.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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