Save The Children has launched the #Lunchless campaign this month to help raise awareness of the severe growing hunger crisis in East Africa. The world needs to act now to save the nearly 20 million lives that are at risk in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda where children are suffering from extreme hunger. Families in this region are in urgent need of food and safe drinking water, and many severely malnourished children are in need of immediate treatment.
A combination of drought, man-made conflicts, and refugees flooding into already fragile surrounding countries have exacerbated shortages, creating the perfect storm for a humanitarian crisis of this scale.
According to the UN this is the worst hunger crisis that the world has faced in decades, with areas of South Sudan experiencing famine and other areas of East Africa currently on the brink. The UN defines a region where over 30% of the children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition as experiencing famine. Malnutrition is the greatest underlying cause of death in children under the age of five around the globe, yet it is an entirely treatable condition. With proper treatment a child on the brink of starvation can be brought back to health in less than two months.
Recently the CEO of Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, traveled to Somalia with David Muir to report on the hunger crisis. The report that aired on ABC News last week served as a wake-up call to many on the severity of the situation. I attended the Moms+Social Good event in New York City last week in where Carolyn spoke about the experience of seeing so many children suffering first hand. She recounted part of the interview caught on film with David Muir and Dr. Yousif Ali at a feeding center in Somalia where Dr. Ali states that the children who were at the clinic, even the ones in critical condition, were the lucky ones. Many others had perished on their way to get help.
In the year 2017 no mother should have to watch her child die because of lack of food and water.
What if each of us gave up our lunch for one day? Save the Children is asking us to go #Lunchless to experience what it might feel like to go without by missing a meal. If for one day this week each of us went #Lunchless and donated our lunch money to Save the Children instead, we could save lives. Each #lunchless donation to East Africa Child Hunger Crisis & Famine Relief Fund is being matched by two separate anonymous donors up to $150,000 further amplifying each gift.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP:
1. Skip lunch and post a photo of yourself/your group going #Lunchless.
2. Through May 31st you can donate your lunch money by texting LUNCHLESS to 20222 to donate $10* (or donate any other amount here: http://ow.ly/lJUB30bdXAQ ).
3. Challenge your friends, colleagues and peers to join you by going #Lunchless by tagging them in your social media post.
Three heartbreaking stories of families impacted by the Zika virus were highlighted this week in a Sunday New York Times article. Although last year’s Zika crisis is no longer making regular headlines, the World Health Organization now considers Zika a continuing health threat along the lines of Malaria or Yellow Fever. As the babies infected by Zika are getting older new challenges are arising for families, and new babies infected by the virus are still being born. Despite a vaccine in development, pregnant women in at risk areas have to live with the daily fear of exposing their unborn child to the virus. The founders of Maternova, a company that specializes in women’s health solutions, Meg Wirth and Allison Cote, realized that the world could not just sit around and wait for a vaccine to be developed. A process that, if successful, can sometimes still take years to get to the public. Women and babies are most directly impacted by the consequences of the virus, and with nothing on the market to help women to continue to live their daily lives, a viable everyday solution was needed.
“We realized with the increasing threat of Zika becoming an epidemic in South America and then entering the United States, that this was something that had direct dire consequences for pregnant women and their babies, and there wasn’t anything on the market that proved to be viable and be used everyday in order for these women to protect themselves.”
– Allyson Cote, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Maternova
The duo enlisted Alessandra Gold, a Brazilian-born, Miami-based award-winning designer to create a four piece capsule collection of mosquito repellent, yet fashionable, maternity clothing that women could wear every day. The idea was that the clothing would help to do during the day what mosquito netting does at night. Using a non-permethrin nano-technology patented in Europe the textile used in the garments has repellent embedded into it on a molecular level.
The NovaVeil collection features a dress, a cardigan with a hood, a scarf, and leggings, all designed to be comfortably worn in warm climates. Not only do the garments provide protection from the Zika virus but from other insect born illnesses such as Malaria, Dengue, and lyme disease. The goal was to appeal to and be able to reach women across the economic spectrum, so sales of NovaVeil garments in high end areas will help to subsidizes providing garments in lower income areas. It turns out that the cost per wear of the clothing, which remains effective through 50 wash cycles (and when tested was still 60% effective after 90 washes) will be less expensive than it would be to apply insect repellent every day. It is also better for the woman’s health, and for the environment.
“There is a massive amount of literature on bed nets and protecting women and families at nighttime from Malaria, but there was very little out there about protection during the daytime. In part that’s because this is a brand new technology.”
– Meg Wirth, Co-Founder of Maternova
Maternova partnered with Americares early on by adding a NovaVeil maternity top to anti-Zika mother kits they were already giving to their pregnant patients at a health clinic in El Salvador. The kits also contained condoms, bed nets, skin based repellent, and a water purification method. It is not surprising that a fast acting every-day solution in response to the Zika crisis that puts mothers and babies first would come from a social enterprise owned and run by women. The goal is to continue to offer the NovaVeil line at either no cost or low cost to distribution partners in Latin America in hopes of protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable women, while widening distribution so that pregnant women everywhere can feel safe from the threat of Zika in their everyday lives.
World Moms were out in force on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 at Women’s Marches all around the world. Here are a few of the pictures of a day of global solidarity. The connection of women at these marches are what we try to do on a virtual level here at World Moms Network every day!
Where we were:
Managing editor, Elizabeth Atalay, and contributor, Jennifer Iachovelli were in Washington, DC.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Social Media Editor, Nicole Morgan, was at a march with her mother and daughters in Florida.
St. Louis, Missouri
“My dream is to capture this energy of the moment and transform it into action. If we can launch an unprecedented movement of citizen advocacy and hard work to elect candidates who believe in these values, we will truly have succeeded today.” – Editor, Cindy Levin
Thank you for marching with a #WorldMoms sign, Cindy!
New York City
“My aunt and mom (right). My mom said she marched before I was born and can’t believe she had to do it again.” – Social Media Editor, Sarah Hughes
“Nasty Women Arise! I am marching for my daughter and countless girls and women globally who don’t have the freedom to exercise their rights!” — Contributor, Tes Silverman #worldmoms #womensmarchnyc
Our editor, Tara Wambugu, marched in Wangari Mathai’s Karura Forest.
We also proudly share this interview with former World Moms Network contributor, Sophie Walker, from Saturday. Sophie is now the head of the Women’s Equality party in England and marched in London. We’re so proud of you, Sophie, for sticking up for women!
Check in tomorrow on the blog for a detailed account of the Washington DC march! To see more photos from Women’s Marches around the world check out this New York Times article! There is no doubt, we are stronger together.
I drew in my breath with awe as the beauty of the verdant mountain range came into view. We had Emerged from the congested streets of Port-au-Prince where we watched fathers precariously navigate the heavy traffic holding the tiny hands of their little girls in school uniforms and hair-bows. Street side sellers had perched water or dried plantains atop their heads as they skillfully wove through the crowd. The street art that brightened cement walls was half covered by myriad posters for presidential candidates. Heading out of the city we’d passed glimpses of the ocean peeking through breaks in the tree line or the walls, and then the view opened up to the majestic green mountains undulating off into the distance as far as we could see. Having read that Haiti has the highest deforestation rate of any country in the world with only 2% of it’s original forests remaining, it was greener than I had expected. During my week in Haiti I came to a deeper understanding of the Haitian proverb I had heard , “Mountains Beyond Mountains”, but this was my first literal interpretation. The mountains beyond mountains of this gorgeous view.
We came to Haiti to visit artisans with the Artisan Business Network who create products for the Heart of Haiti line of goods sold on-line and in Macy’s stores in America. Heart of Haiti began it’s partnership with the Artisan Business Network after the 2010 earthquake to aid in economic recovery by providing sustainable jobs and a market for the rich arts culture of the country. Art is everywhere you turn, from the walls of Port-au-Prince lined with steel art and hung with paintings, graffiti decorated buildings, to the colorful TapTap buses. Each region seems to have a creative specialty and our tour took us to several areas where we were able to watch the artisans at work, and follow their process of creation from start to finish.
The coastal town of Jacmel is known for it’s arts and charm. Mosaics like the stairs pictured above decorate public areas and historic French architectural influence reminded me of New Orleans. There we visited Paper Mache artists who demonstrated their craft using recycled materials such as discarded cement bags and layers of cardboard boxes which they seemed to magically transform into gorgeous works of art.
Paper Mache heart ornaments
We met the women of the PWOFAPLAS soapmaking collective in Mirebalais, who banded together to use their creativity to generate economic opportunities for themselves in an area without many options for women.
In Leogane, which was the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake, we visited the river where soapstone is sourced. We then watched as the Heart of Haiti soapstone carvers transformed the rough rocks by hand-carving them into smooth hearts and bowls.
In Croix des Bouquets we were shown how a repurposed steel metal drum was cut, flattened, and worked into a delicately carved metal tray, christmas ornaments or wall art.
Every new area we visited exposed us to a new craft, but the ingenuity was pervasive throughout each art form. The goods created and sold provide economic empowerment through sustainable incomes enabling the artisans to provide for their families and send their children to school. It is inspiring to see that many of them are also teaching the next generation their craft.
Just a few weeks prior to our visit Hurricane Matthew, the strongest hurricane to hit Haiti in fifty years, had barreled down with 145 mile an hour winds. An estimated 1,000 lives were lost, regions destroyed, homes, livestock, and crops all gone. The rainy season has continued to flood areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, and I realized why the mountains were looking so lush and green at the moment. In Camp Perrin we visited Artisan Business Network embroiderers who were greatly impacted by the hurricane. The damage became increasingly clear as we neared the town and artists we visited had lost roofing and a season’s worth of embroidery work in the storm. When we arrived the artisans we met were eager to get back to work and busy rebuilding their lives, and their homes.
The Macy’s Heart of Haiti program currently employs 550 artisans, and by extension positively impacts the lives of their families. It is important to know that when you purchase their art and their work you are truly making an impact in the lives of the artisans and their families.
I feel incredibly grateful to have gotten a glimpse into the creative heartbeat of Haiti. It is tough for me to encapsulate the range of emotions upon visiting for the first time. It is such a tenuous time of political and economic uncertainty, compounded by natural disaster, yet seeing firsthand the raw beauty of this country, the richness in creativity and spirit of it’s people, and their passion for their homeland despite it’s flaws, I have to say I kind of fell in love. The proverb “Dye mon, gen mon.”, “Mountains Beyond Mountains” speaks to the peaks and valleys sure to come with life in Haiti, but really could work to some extreme for all of us, no matter where in the world we live.
There is some exciting traveling coming up for two of our editors at World Moms Network! One is embarking on her first trip to the US to connect with fellow World Moms, and the other is packing up well-needed supplies and heading to Haiti to support and learn from Artisans there.
Senior Editor, Kirsten Doyle of Running for Autism to travel to the USA to meet up with World Moms
In 2015 World Moms Kirsten Doyle and Mama Simona met in Cape Town, South Africa. This week, Kirsten Doyle of Canada is traveling to the US to meet World Moms, Jennifer Burden and Tes Silverman!
Kirsten Doyle has been volunteering her time to edit for World Moms Network, formerly World Moms Blog, for over 5 years. For the first time ever, she will meet with World Moms, Jennifer Burden and Tes Silverman (Pinay Perspective) in the USA! There have been countless video calls, emails and Facebook posts among the group, but they are super excited about their first face-to-face meeting.
“Kirsten has been editing since I went on maternity leave over 5 years ago, and she is a true rock to World Moms Network. Without women like herself who have stepped in when we needed them most, World Moms Network couldn’t be here today. I am so grateful, excited, and happy to meet her!”, says World Moms Network founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden.
Kirsten’s personal blog is Running for Autism, where she chronicles her family life in Canada, as well as, her life as a runner who fundraises for charities that support autism research. Her son George lives with autism, so the topic is close to Kirsten’s heart.
Over the past 5 years, she has had the pleasure to meet up with World Mom, Nicole Melancon of the USA, on Nicole’s trip to Toronto, and Mama Simona of South Africa, on her own trip to Cape Town. This is one of things World Moms talk about often behind the scenes — getting to meet each other in person!
The team in the US this weekend hopes to develop a creative training program for the women who write alongside them. Also, World Moms around the globe will be signing on to join them by video.
The upcoming meeting is for sure another milestone for us!
Managing Editor, Elizabeth Atalay of Documama, to head to Haiti to report on local artisans
Elizabeth Atalay of Documama is getting ready to embark on a trip to Haiti, where she will visit artisans there this week. She has packed up several suitcases full of relief items, too, for the people there, as not only is there widespread poverty on the island nation, but hurricane Matthew also took a devastating toll on the country this month.
One of Elizabeth’s passions has been to report on poverty issues throughout the globe, and this upcoming trip intertwines with another one of her passions, art.
“Over the years I’ve enjoyed painting, making pottery, photography, and paper making, and it’s no surprise that my daughter chose the path of art major at her high school. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the artisans in Haiti in their work spaces, to learn more about their country and culture, and to get to see the creative processes that produce the beautiful Heart of Haiti pieces carried at Macy’s.”
The trip is being run by Macy’s, a department store in the US, and will focus around the Artisan Business Network, which matches artisans with markets for their goods outside of the country. Macy’s itself is one of those markets, as they sell Haitian art and wares in their stores. Elizabeth is the second World Mom to join this trip, as Nicole Melancon of Thirdeyemom also attended the reporting trip last year. We will be following Elizabeth’s trip on social media and the hashtag, #Bloggers4Haiti. Also, look out for her upcoming trip report for World Moms Network!