Thanks Mom

Mother and Child in Burkina Faso ©Bartay/HKI

In just a few days we officially celebrate Mother’s Day. At Helen Keller International, we celebrate mothers all year round since they are crucial to the success of our program that prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition.

One constant I have observed while traveling to HKI’s programs around the world is the love that mothers have for their children and their willingness to try new things to ensure their health and happiness.

For example, in Burkina Faso, I met a young mother, Sanfo Salimata, in the village of Koulwoko who was taught how to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, which are rich in vitamin A, through Helen Keller International’s program. She was encouraged to eat them while she was pregnant even though she found their color strange and their shape odd.  HKI staff provided information to let her know that they were good for her and her baby – and would even prevent night blindness, which can occur when expecting mothers are vitamin A-deficient.

Sanfo ate the orange potatoes and felt great throughout her pregnancy. When her baby was born, she was sure he was even more beautiful thanks to her new diet!  Convinced of their value, Sanfo began feeding her older children the orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes every day, so the whole family now enjoys better health.

In addition to helping mothers keep their children thriving year-round, HKI also provides mothers with tools to help their children survive when a crisis strikes.

Last spring, Niger suffered a disastrous drought which created a food crisis. HKI worked with local health centers to provide treatment to children who were suffering from acute malnutrition. At the center in Dogon Doutchi, the team can care for 20 children a day – and they save more than 90 percent of them!

Tsalha Aï carried her one-year-old son, Tsalha Idi, many miles to reach the health center because she knew he was close to dying of malnutrition. Tsalha weighed just 10 pounds when he arrived, but after 16 days of careful micronutrient treatment, his tiny, battered spirit revived and he began gaining weight again.

HKI works with many partners to deliver our programs, and mothers are one of our most important, committed and determined allies!

Mothers & Children ©Bartay/HKI

Mothers & children outside a health center that treats and prevents malnutrition

Please join me in celebrating mothers all around the world (including your own!) by:

  1. Making a special gift today to honor all the mothers in your life. For the price of a bouquet of flowers or box of chocolate, your gift will empower mothers to nurture their children with nutritious food…protect them from the scourge of trachoma, river blindness and other sight- and life-threatening disease…and build communities where every child has hope to achieve their full and unique potential.
  2. Sharing a favorite story about your mother in the comment box below.

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Categories: Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

One Comment

  1. Maggie Jacoby says...

    My mother has taught me many inspiring lessons. She has taught me the importance of living a life filled with joy and happiness, the power of generosity and kindness, and that the pursuit of balance is a life’s chore. I am blessed to have grown up with a mother (and father) who have nurtured and protected me, and have seen first hand how mothers all over the world struggle to do the same for their children with considerably less resources. This Sunday, I salute mothers for all they do – day in and day out – to keep their children happy and healthy. Yay moms!

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