I feel like I have cultural whiplash this week. I began the week at the Ritz Carlton for Mom 2.0 being pampered and having every need met with a “No problem Mrs. Anderson”. Then I came home and hosted two lovely orphans from Uganda as their choir is touring in Grand Rapids. They marveled at the fact our house had a basement, that everyone had cars and that the kids at the high school all had cell phones. I looked around at my excess and was a bit embarrassed.
But I was also incredibly proud of them as I listened to their goals of becoming an engineer and nurse. Not because these goals were modeled to them by their mothers (neither of them even had much relationship with their mothers), but because they are charting a different path. One made possible because of education. I was so grateful that they have access to school as I read with horror what is going on Nigeria where girls who even attempt to go to school are literally risking their lives for the privilege.
I bundle up my two girls every morning and send them off to school without a second thought. This is so radically different from what mothers are doing around the world. Daughters are raised to cook and clean and help around the house. They are raised to be married off young. Education isn’t a priority and many women see no way out. One place this is very evident is in India.
Photo: ©2013 Annila Harris/World Vision
She had to drop out of school at age 15 to help supplement her family’s income when her father became ill. She began working 9am-8pm daily at a factory. Her dreams of breaking out of the cycle of poverty her family found themselves in could really only be realized with an education and that was simply no longer an option. Meet Khadija:
Photo: ©2013 Annila Harris/World Vision
She once dreamed of being a doctor but was also forced to drop out of school in grade 7 to help support her family. She begged to go back but instead was married off at 18 with no say in her future. Now a mother herself she desperately wanted a different life for her children. But history repeated itself as their family sunk into debt and she had to choose between surviving or paying for costly education. Jyoti could be my daughter. Khadja could be me! The only difference between us is the zipcode and families we were born in.
The drop out rate in India for girls is 40%. This leaves woman completely dependent on their husbands or their employers. But what if they could be empowered to become business owners and leaders in their communities? It would radically alter their futures and the futures of their children. World Vision India has given Jyoti and Khadja hope. By providing them with sewing machines and tailoring skills, both women are now business owners and in control of their futures. I think Khadja sums up her newfound hope best:
“The greatest blessing is that I can stand up on my own two feet now. I have a feeling of pride in me, that I am not dependent on anyone anymore. I can pay for my own expenses. I am able to take care of my family better and focus more on my children’s well-being. Now I have reached a point that I don’t have to ask my husband for money. I have money and I buy things that I need with that money. My husband is proud of me.”
I saw the pride in women’s eyes first hand when I traveled with World Vision to the Dominican Republic in 2010. We met women who had opened their own bakeries and women who were selling purses they had sewn themselves. Their future radically changed by having a skill that set them apart.
When you sponsor a child through World Vision you not only sponsor a child but a community. You give hope in seemingly hopeless situations. And you give mothers and daughters a chance to break free from a system that doesn’t allow them the future they dream of.
This Mother’s Day I am taking a moment to think of what it means to be a mother in America and what it means to be a mother in other parts of the world. While the differences are vast at times I believe in my heart of hearts that much of motherhood is the same. It is about wanting the absolute best for our child. In India, and many other countries that World Vision services, this means giving women and girls the chance for education.
Khadja might never become a doctor, but now she has the resources to help her daughter, Mehak realize that dream. My sponsorship is doing that. Your sponsorship can do that too. Won’t you consider sponsoring a child through World Vision today?