SOCIALGOOD:Our Senior Editor Selected To Travel To Brazil As An International Reporting Project Fellow

SOCIALGOOD:Our Senior Editor Selected To Travel To Brazil As An International Reporting Project Fellow

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United Nations Foundation

Sometime back I wrote in my personal blog that I am ‘NOT’ a globe-trotting mama. But here I am getting ready for my next adventure all over Brazil.

I am honored and proud to officially announce that I have been selected  to receive a fellowship in Journalism and will be reporting from Brazil for the International Reporting Project as part of the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. I shall be reporting about reduction of poverty and hunger in Brazil, and how it has embraced the Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of its citizens.

Here at World Moms Blog, working for the MDGs has been something close to our hearts. And hence this trip is also very close to my heart where I will be learning so much and sharing what we do here at World Moms Blog through media and through the power of mothers. Having launched the Moms4MDGs campaign in Chicago, during BlogHer13 and following up very closely and working with it has made me feel very passionate about this cause.

As I brace myself for a hectic fortnight in the 2nd and 3rd week of April, where we may go back-packing and camping in rural and sub-urban Brazil, one thought comes to my mind – What is it that I am going to achieve, apart from the learning and all the anticipated fun? I really don’t know that yet.

I only know that this trip is going to be very special in so many ways.

I have written posts about the 8 MDGs in the past  about a few topics including Environment, Eco-feminism, reducing Infant mortality rate, child-health, Social issues and empowerment of girl child and women. I now also look forward to learn more about reduction of health, poverty, hunger and improvement of the lifestyle of citizens by the sustained effort of various individuals and organizations.

This trip is going to take me places very rugged and rustic like rural villages where connectivity could be difficult, I understand. It makes me a bit concerned, honestly. Not being in touch with my family, especially my son every single moment is going to be difficult. I leave him in good care and support; however this phase sure will be tricky to cope.

We do not have a detailed itinerary yet, but I know that it is going to be exciting. Exciting? Yes, at times, IRP fellows have also met with Presidents/Prime Ministers of the countries they visit. So, it is just not back-packing and camping and reporting from the villages. It is also meeting with the decision makers and understanding how the entire system works.

Anybody want to guess what came in the mail yesterday? A luggage tag featuring the WMB lady, just in time for my travels. Jen, Thank you! I love this so much and as I pack my bags for Brazil, this is something which will always remind me of the love and comradeship of this beautiful group.

Please look forward to my everyday thoughts and stories, and possibly photographs, video posts, blog posts, slideshows, updates on social networks, assuming I have a good internet connection.

You can track my posts from this trip at #Moms4MDGs.You can track all posts from this trip using #BrazilMDGs.

I will be tweeting from both @WorldMomsBlog and @Puma_Vinod. I will vicariously be posting on Facebook both on my personal profile and World Moms Blog profile too.

Please feel free to ask me any questions and leave your comments about this trip. I would also love to read any of your insights on Brazil.

This is the first of the many posts credited to the International Reporting Project (IRP), as part of my reporting from Brazil on this fellowship.

Photo credit United Nations Foundation.

This is an original post written by Purnima Ramakrishnan for World Moms Blog.

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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UNITED KINGDOM:  The Book I Never Thought I Would Write

UNITED KINGDOM: The Book I Never Thought I Would Write

peepingWhen I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer.

My bookshelves were bursting with myths and legends, tales of epic journeys and magical enchantments and warriors and warlocks and princesses; talking animals and terrifying villains. I read many of them over and over and would always think, when I closed the covers, how wonderful the author must have felt to have created such a thing.

I started writing my own stories, on sheets of rough paper, taped or stapled together. I would write the title first, then the author – me – beneath, then carefully index the chapters, number the pages and sometimes, if feeling really enthusiastic about the content, provide rave reviews for the back. I showed my parents, my friends, my teachers. People nodded and smiled.

I grew up, and kept writing. I studied English and French literature, and kept writing. I studied journalism, and kept writing. I got a proper job, and kept writing. Then I had a daughter, and stopped for a while. When I came back to it, I wrote furiously for several months, then realised the embarrassingly semi-autobiographical nature of the novel I had crafted, and put it aside. I got married, and got divorced, and had another child, and got married again.

There wasn’t very much time for writing, let alone for cudgeling my exhausted brain into thinking of something interesting to say.

Then my elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. It had taken us years to find out what it was that was ‘off’ – what the teachers saw, and wondered about, and what her peers saw, and walked away from, and what I saw, and thought was just my eccentrically lovable child. Finding out that my daughter had autism was like discovering she had been living behind glass for 8 years and that I had been oblivious to the sound of her banging her fists on it.

We were sent off with a label, and little support. Grace started to be bullied at school as she grew older and her differences became more apparent and other children were drawn to her weirdness and capacity for combustion when they pressed her buttons. They found all her buttons.

Grace spent a lot of time crying. I spent a lot of time crying. We both felt very alone.

Then one day on the way to work, I pulled out my notebook and emptied the thoughts in my head onto the pale blue lines. I scribbled and scribbled, oblivious to the other commuters, thinking that if I wrote everything down then I might be able to make sense of it. I came home and said to Grace: “Shall we write about what’s happening to us?” And Grace said: “Yes. Please tell them what it’s like.”

So I wrote. I wrote a blog and called it Grace Under Pressure. I wrote about how it feels to be the parent of a child with autism. I wrote about the things I was learning and about how much I realised I still had to learn. I wrote about Grace’s marathon attempts to fit in and understand her own limitations and learn to cope with the limitations of classmates who had no sympathy or understanding. I wrote about running a marathon myself in order to raise awareness among those who had no sympathy or understanding of autism.

People started reading the blog. Then more people read it, and more. Eventually, someone said: “You know, you should really think about making this into a book.” A publisher called Little, Brown agreed.

My book is not the book I ever thought I would write. But it is the kind of book that I used to read. It is the tale of an epic journey, and a magical enchantment, and a courageous princess. I am very proud of the princess, and I am grateful to her every day for letting me tell her story and for taking me with her on the adventure that changed our lives.

Grace Under Pressure: A Girl with Asperger’s and her Marathon Mom, by Sophie Walker, is published in the United States by New World Library, and in the UK by Little, Brown (Piatkus).  

**Enter to win a free copy of Grace Under Pressure!  Comment on this post for a chance to win — we will be choosing a winner on Friday, December 13th! **

This is an original post by our writer in the UK, Sophie Walker.

The image in this post is credited to the author.

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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BELGIUM:  Interview with K10K of The Penguin & The Panther

BELGIUM: Interview with K10K of The Penguin & The Panther

K10KWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I was born, raised and proudly remain stuck in the Belgian mud. I would sometimes dream about moving abroad, but it turns out I’m quite happy staying right here. I do like to travel several times a year, mostly for work.

 

What language(s) do you speak?

My mother tongue is Flemish (which is basically the same as Dutch), but with Belgium being a trilingual country, I also speak French and I can understand German. Obviously, I also speak – and write – English. About ten years ago I also decided to learn Indonesian, but all I remember of it now are the words kamar kecil, which means I can actually ask where the bathroom is if I would  make it to Indonesia one day.

In addition, I would love to learn how to read and write music, and to understand Amharic, the first language of our daughter.

 

When did you first become a mother?

This is a tricky one, because in my experience, I can call on two firsts.  Two totally different ways of expecting a child, of becoming a mother, both wonderful and intense. In 2006, I first became a mother when our son was born,  the one I love to call our cuddly Penguin. Five years later, in 2011, I first became an adoptive mother when we brought our two-year-old daughter home, our darling Panther.

 

Is your work, stay-at-home mom, other work at home or do you work outside the home?

Apart from being a full time mom, full time housekeeper and full time wannabe writer, I also have a full time job outside my home. Some might even say I’m building an exciting career as a geomicrobiologist, enabling me to go on missions abroad and to research amazing subjects, but they should  know that my favorite moments are without doubt coming home, be it after a working day or a business trip.

 

Why do you blog/write?

I started blogging (in Flemish) during our adoption procedure, merely as a way to keep friends and relatives posted on any news we would get in those long years. Along the way, blogging became a kind of therapy, enabling me to vent frustrations and personal struggles,  or to focus on optimism and fun facts. I also learned just how much I loved to write.

I kept on blogging until our daughter was home for two years. I recently decided to stop, mostly for the privacy of my children and because I felt like I was getting ‘addicted’ to blogging. It was a hard decision, disappointing to quite some readers who liked the plain honesty in my writing. But, as a go-between, I decided to start a low frequency, anonymous, English blog about life with my Penguin and Panther, and to contribute to WMB every once in a while. And in the extra spare time I have now, my newest endeavor is to write children’s books, which has long been a dream of mine.

 

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

As a typically modest Belgian, I truly find it awkward to differentiate myself that way. I don’t believe I have something special about me as a mother, or a person for one. But since I have to, well, I guess I would be different from other mothers because my kids come in two opposite colors and with some extra needs. Our blond haired Penguin is an overly sensitive philosopher who understands more than is good for him, while our curly Ethiopian Panther deals with attachment, anxiety and health issues. They leave me both exhausted and enriched every single evening, but I guess that’s no difference to other mothers…

 

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

I don’t even know where to begin!  Every day is a challenge, when raising children, isn’t it? One of my major concerns though, is to let our children remain children as long as possible. I strive to keep a delicate balance between guarding my children innocence and purity, and still teaching them about the need for respect and care for the less fortunate or for our struggling environment. With today’s society going so fast, having everything within reach, leaving nothing to the imagination,  I try to create an island of simplicity and ‘slowness’ for our children (and ourselves!)  at home, where they can develop at their own pace. But when time comes, I still want them to be able to catch one of society’s speed boats that are racing by our island…

 

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I just bumped upon WMB through a cartoon someone shared. I think. My kids often beat me at ‘Memory’, so I can’t be sure about it. But I do remember I started reading and reading and couldn’t stop for another hour.

 

This is an original interview of our new writer in Belgium, K10K – pronounce it as Ka-ten-ka and you will come quite close to her real name – from The Penguin and The Panther

The image used in this post is credited to the author.

Katinka

If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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NETHERLANDS: Interview with Mirjam of Apples and Roses

NETHERLANDS: Interview with Mirjam of Apples and Roses

MirjamWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in the Netherlands but I was born in Surinam. 

 What language(s) do you speak?

I speak Dutch, English and Surinamese and I also have a rudimentary knowledge of German and French.

 When did you first become a mother?

I became a mother almost eleven years ago, when I gave birth to my son Jason.

 Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

I was a stay at home Mom but for the past couple of years I have been working one day a week. I still feel like a stay at home Mom, though.

 Why do you blog/write?

I started to blog because I needed an outlet for my creativity and a space where I could express myself. Once I started, it became so much more: a document for my kids; a report of my journey and struggle with depression; a place to inspire and encourage others; a special spot on the internet to honor my soul and mostly a mirror in which I could see myself in a positive way.

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

This is such a tough question to answer! I think I am different because of my background. I  had some difficulties early in life that have permanently influenced my personality. I choose not to say damaged because I find, as a result, I can still grasp the concept of childhood. I still completely know what it feels like to be a child. That makes it easier to place myself in the shoes of my kids. And that is a big part of the way I parent my kids.

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

It is my opinion that society nowadays encourages self-centeredness. It is all about self-fulfillment, self-development. I want to raise my children to be compassionate. I would like for their lives to be a blessing to others, that they not only live for themselves. 

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I found World Moms Blog via Twitter.

This is an original interview and our second post from our new writer in the Netherlands and mother of two, Mirjam.

Mirjam

Mirjam was born in warm, sunny Surinam, but raised in the cold, rainy Netherlands. She´s the mom of three rambunctious beauties and has been married for over two decades to the love of her life. Every day she´s challenged by combining the best and worst of two cultures at home. She used to be an elementary school teacher but is now a stay at home Mom. In her free time she loves to pick up her photo camera. Mirjam has had a life long battle with depression and is not afraid to talk about it. She enjoys being a blogger, an amateur photographer, and loves being creative in many ways. But most of all she loves live and laughter, even though sometimes she is the joke herself. You can find Mirjam (sporadically) at her blog Apples and Roses where she blogs about her battle with depression and finding beauty in the simplest of things. You can also find Mirjam on Twitter and Instagram.

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BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

BRAZIL: My Birth Story, Part III: A Rewarding Peace

Today’s post is a continuation of a South American birth story from our contributor in Brazil, Eco Ziva.  Click here for part one  and part two of her birth story on World Moms Blog. 
 

Pregnant Woman with Globe

Coincidence or not, about five minutes after the encouraging message the contractions began. At first I didn’t want to admit they were contractions – not even to myself. It is true that they were different from any kind of contraction I had felt before. They were restricted to a small area of my lower abdomen and were less painful. By then my husband had already filled in the tub and after a while I finally accepted I was in active labor and agreed that he turn on the water heater.

The warm water calmed me and I managed to get all thoughts out of my mind. The fear was completely gone. I soon figured out that each contraction lasted exactly the time it took for me to mentally recite four prayers I knew by heart due to my Catholic upbringing: Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Guardian Angel and the Saint Germain prayers. I used that as a meditation and it made the contractions quite bearable.

What was happening around me is all jumbled in my mind and I don’t really remember. I know that our daughter had become fully awake, while our son completely blacked out no matter how much his father tried to wake him. My husband was also running around back and forth organizing things (I think).

The midwife arrived at around 11:30 p.m. with her daughter (an apprentice midwife), a doula, and her sister, an acupuncturist. After talking with them for a while I reluctantly left the water to be examined. The baby’s heartbeat was fine and I was 7 cm dilated.

Since my daughter’s labor had progressed a bit faster I was slightly discouraged thinking I still had another hour or so before reaching full dilation. However, at this point the midwife asked permission to try something new with me. She (who is also an acupuncturist) and her sister had recently learned a way to diminish the pain in labor and I would be the first they would try it on. They also wanted to try a technique where I would push as little as possible and let the baby come out softly in order to avoid tearing (this was due to my big babies and the enormous tear I had the previous time).

No, the pain did not diminish (much to the contrary!). Yet what happened after she placed the acupuncture needles was equally amazing. Things sped up considerably and in two or three contractions I felt like pushing. Not only did I feel like pushing but I couldn’t help it – so much for letting the baby come out slowly! Differently from my previous labor processes, where the pushing phase felt much more like a need to go to the bathroom, this time these contractions were quite painful.

During my daughter’s labor process I held back for a while during the pushing phase because I was afraid of tearing. This time I just wanted to get it over with and see our son. Not simply get over with labor – I wanted to put it all behind me, all the months of illness after illness, all the fear, and now the pain.

At some point our daughter (who was watching everything outside the tub, right behind me) started crying, I guess from all the faces I was making as I pushed. I reassured her mommy was fine and my husband picked her up.

I pushed so hard I began to feel my blood pressure drop as if I was going to faint. I asked for the water-honey mixture my husband had prepared while the midwife pressed an acupressure point straight below my nose, and I soon felt better.

I checked to see how far the baby was from crowning and was once again discouraged when I felt the head about 10 cm away. The midwife reassured me that it wouldn’t take long for him to descend and in the next contraction I pushed with all my might. I checked again and the seemed the distance seemed to have decreased by half.

Amidst all this, everyone in the room was singing a beautiful song that talked of world peace, union and love. What a wonderful way to welcome a new being onto this planet! Over the next days this song was in my head, and every time a warm feeling came to my heart, along with a wish that more children could come into the world in such a loving, harmonious way. I truly believe it would contribute to a more peaceful Earth.

Two or three contractions later he emerged. It was 34 minutes past midnight. I remember the first words the midwife told me, smiling, were “You broke a record!”

I asked if the cord was around his neck and she said yes and removed it. Then he came straight to my breast. I had felt a great sense of relief and contentment after my two other children were born – even after the C-section, but nothing can be compared to this time. All of a sudden I felt like a completely new woman, fearless and full of energy, and who seemed to never have been ill or in pain.

After the cord stopped pulsating, my husband cut it and we waited for the placenta, chatting excitedly. I had thought of having a Lotus birth, but after so much havoc I realized now I just wanted to rest. I donated the placenta to the midwife as she uses it to make homeopathic medicine.

All in all – despite the initial fear and panic – it was a wonderful birth, a great gift after such a difficult pregnancy. As I finish writing this our beautiful baby boy (the best gift of this entire story!) is sleeping peacefully next to me.

How was/were your birthing experience(s)? Please share.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our mother of three in Brazil, Eco Ziva.

Ecoziva (Brazil)

Eco, from the greek oikos means home; Ziva has many meanings and roots, including Hebrew (brilliance, light), Slovenian (goddess of life) and Sanskrit (blessing). In Brazil, where EcoZiva has lived for most of her life, giving birth is often termed “giving the light”; thus, she thought, a mother is “home to light” during the nine months of pregnancy, and so the penname EcoZiva came to be for World Moms Blog. Born in the USA in a multi-ethnic extended family, EcoZiva is married and the mother of two boys (aged 12 and three) and a five-year-old girl and a three yearboy. She is trained as a biologist and presently an university researcher/professor, but also a volunteer at the local environmental movement.

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Washington, DC, U.S.A.: Interview with Shootie Girl™ – LaShaun Martin

Washington, DC, U.S.A.: Interview with Shootie Girl™ – LaShaun Martin

LaShaun-ShootieWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in the USA in the Washington, DC Metro Area now, but grew up between California and Louisiana.

What language(s) do you speak?

English

When did you first become a mother?

In 2003, and I now have two daughters.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

Work-from-home mother. CEO of Shootie Girl™ Custom Rhinestone Apparel.

Why do you blog/write?

I write to promote positive messages for women and girls and my company is based on those values. With so many negative images of women and young girls across the country, I try to shed some light on what girls and women are doing RIGHT!

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

I believe the core of mothers are the same.  What may set me apart is all of the things I’m passionate about and involved in: Wife, mom, CEO, worship leader, board member of 3 organizations, and blogger. For example, I’m the National Director of Social Media and Community Service for Mocha Moms, Inc. a national 501(c)(3) support group for stay-at-home mothers of color. And, I’m a frequent guest of the White House for events focused on women and girls including tea with First Lady Michelle Obama. (more…)

shootiegirl

LaShaun Martin is National Director of Social Media and Community Service for Mocha Moms, Inc. a national 501(c)(3) support group for stay-at-home mothers of color. LaShaun currently works to manage and promote community service programs for the organization to include teen mentoring, Boys Booked on Barbershops literacy program, America’s Promise, MomsRising, Moms Clean Air Force, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Department of Education. She is a frequent guest of the White House for events focused on women and girls including tea with First Lady Michelle Obama. LaShaun holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. LaShaun spent 20 years with the State of California, the State of Maryland Department of Corrections managing public education, research, FBI programs and later Hewlett Packard. LaShaun now serves as CEO and Designer of her own company, Shootie Girl™ Custom Rhinestone Apparel and Shootie Girl™ Blog – Positive Messages for Women and Girls. Shootie Girl™ designs have been featured with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Sherri Shepherd of The View, Carol’s Daughter, Clinique Cosmetics, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Still Standing Movie, Dr. Sherry Blake of Essence Magazine and Aja Dantzler of R&B singing couple Kindred and the Family Soul and Blogalicious. LaShaun is passionate about giving back and ensures her company reflects a heart for service by donating many “t-shirts for a cause” to Heart of Haiti, the women of Zimbabwe and The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Campaign. She also serves on the Advisory Board of MOMentumNation and the Epilepsy Foundation. LaShaun’s greatest passions are her husband, two lovely daughters and music. Blog: http://www.shootiegirl.net Custom Rhinestone Apparel: http://www.shootiegirl.com

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