Monday, October 7, 2013

Every Mama's Wish (Get Ready To Change Lives!)

"You'll never be able to make enough to feed him."  She stuck her head into my hospital room and shook her head at me.  "Just give him a bottle, he's a big baby."

My heart sunk, and I looked down at my son's face, his bright blue eyes taking me in.  It was July 2003, and I was 19 years old.  A new mom.  And one of the first things I was told was that I was not enough.

When you are 19 and a mother, you don't need people telling you that you aren't enough; you already feel that way on your own.  It is a desperate, maddening feeling to meet the person you love more than anyone in the world - and on that same day, be told you're not good enough to give him what he needs.

It wasn't based on fact, and thanks to the support I had at the time, I could brush aside the nurse's doubtfulness.  When she came back again and repeated her exhortation to just give that big 8 lb 11 oz baby a bottle already, I just shook my head.  I could do this.  I could.  I was made for this.

It's been 10 years and besides my 5th grade son, I have 3 beautiful daughters of my own.  Girls.  My heart thrills at the thought.  Growing up with 3 sisters of my own, I get girls.  I love girls!  And my girls, well - they are smart, beautiful, kind and delightful.  Girls who can do anything, be anything.  Girls who will change the world.

Being a teen mom in America is tough.  I think back to those days and, although I couldn't see it at the time, I now remember the support I had.  I have nothing but gratitude for the women in my life who took me seriously, treated me as an equal, told me I was capable.  The women who named me one of their own and encouraged me to be strong and faithful.  That it would be tough, but worth it.  That I was able.

Even I can see that my experience was a cake walk compared to those in other countries.  Take for example, Kenya.  A different world.  For some, a desperate fight for basic survival.  A horrifying choice between welcoming a child into an uncertain future, or a dangerous back alley abortion.

Here's a bit of what is happening:

  • Annually, 21,000 women are hospitalized from having an illegal, unsafe abortion in Kenya. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • Abortion is a volatile topic in Kenya.
  • 13,000 Kenyan girls are kicked out of school for being pregnant. (Center for Reproductive Rights)
  • 25% of pregnant women in Kenya are HIV positive (ObGyn in Kenya)
  • Every 30 minutes, a woman is raped in Kenya. (Nairobi Women’s Hospital)
  • Mothers often force their daughters into trading sex for food in the slums (CNN)
  • More than 20,000 children are sex trafficked in Kenya (Human Trafficking)
  • 1500 women die in childbirth every day across Africa (WHO)

But I know women. I know teen Moms and I know hope.  I know what every Mama wants for her child, no matter where she lives.  A hope.  A future.  I know that those teen Mamas in Kenya, they are able.  They are strong.  They were made for this.  And with a little support from their sisters, they can give their children a strong, beautiful start.

That is why I am thrilled to introduce you to Mercy House.  Mercy House is an organization for 12 Teen Mamas and their babies, women who bravely chose life for their children despite horrific odds, with the help of people like you and me who said enough.  And this year, we have an incredible opportunity to give them 5 incredible Christmas presents - gifts that show them that they are not alone, that they can do this and that they are loved.  Partnering with (In)courage, I am so excited and proud to be a part of (In)Mercy.  You can learn more about Mercy House's vision and plans here.

(In)Mercy is a giving event of epic proportions, and I am thrilled to be a part of Phase 2: A New Classroom for the Mercy House girls.

Here's a bit of information from Kristen Welch, founder of Mercy House, about the importance of education for women:

“We know from study after study that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls and women.” (Kofi Annan)

Education is a fundamental right for all people, women and men, of all ages. Unfortunately in Kenya and many countries like it, education for girls still lags behind education for boys.

When girls are given the opportunity to learn, it not only changes their lives, it changes the world (facts based on research at

 Educating girls raises lifetime incomes for them, their families and their countries. In particular, girls with secondary education have an 18% return in future wages, as compared to 14% for boys.

 Educating girls and women fosters democracy and women's political activity. Educated women are more likely to resist abuses such as domestic violence, traditions like female mutilation, and discrimination at home, in society or the workplace.

 Educating girls and women saves children's lives. Each additional year of schooling for girls reduces infant mortality for their offspring by up to 10%. Also, mothers provide better nutrition and health care and spend more on their children: girls and women spend 90% of their earned income on their families, while men only spend 30-40%.

Want to join with me and change the future of some bright, beautiful girls and their precious little ones?  It could change the legacy of entire families.  I know you want to.  It could be the very best Christmas ever!

Here's what to do:

Donate - right here.  Or in the sidebar.  Whatever you can give is a blessing and makes a difference!

Share - this post.  Put it on your facebook wall, share it on twitter, email it to your friends and family.  Let's give these girls and unprecedented outpouring of love!

Pray - for the Mercy House girls, for this project, and for all mothers everywhere.

Thank you so much!

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