She wakes up as morning light leaks through cracks in the walls of her home. Outside her door, the neighborhood comes alive. She lives in one of the largest slums in Africa.
Her two oldest daughters wake and help her with chores. Her son grabs his water jug and begins his two hour walk for drinking water. Her baby cries.
She’s a single mom, trying to make the best life for her children that she can.
She cuddles them, loves them and provides for them by selling small items she finds in the trash at a local market.
Her average salary is less than a dollar a day, not quite enough to fill her children’s stomachs.
They lack sanitary toilets, so she waits for rains to flush away raw sewage. This is not the way she wishes to raise her children, but she has no way out.
She worries for her children. Her daughters are vulnerable to sexual exploitation and HIV runs rampant in these parts. Violence is a way of life.
Every Sunday, she walks her four children two hours to church.
She plods all day, holds crying babies, comforts that boy, wishes he could go to school and she applauds her oldest daughters as they work. They bring her joy.
She’s a good mother and she loves like crazy.
And like most mothers, she gets tired, weary, but something brave rises up inside of her to be all they need with all she’s got.
As I worry about the mess my two year old made dumping a jar of blackberry jam on his church clothes, she worries about feeding her children.
As I discipline my children for fighting and rotten attitudes when they don’t get a toy they want, she thinks about whether or not her children will get sick from the unclean drinking water they collect daily.
As I spend days educating my children and helping them not complain when they have homework to do, she wishes her children could get an education.
So, as I spend my mothers day with church, lunch and family movie night, I think of her.
I don’t need to feel condemned for having more, but I want to think of her. I want to think of what my life would be like if I was her, walking in her shoes, with the same love for my children and longing to provide opportunities for them.
And I think and pray for her for God to bless her right where she is and I ask God how I can help.
Can I help her arms to shelter her children? To let her know she is not forgotten by God or by mothers around the world?
She is one of 1.2 billion people in the world that lives in extreme poverty and she’s a mama just like me. She’s a mother living in the kind of poverty where malnutrition is the leading cause of death in children under five.
In honor of this Mother’s Day, help a mother protect her child. You can celebrate and support mothers who are living in poverty through ongoing support of a Child Survival Program or by making a one time donation to feed a baby and mother.
Compassion’s Child Survival Program helps save the lives of babies and mothers in poverty by utilizing local churches to assist mothers of at-risk infants and toddlers. Mothers can give their children a fighting chance for healthy development with the supplies and training provided by the donations to this program.
All photos credited to Compassion International at Picturesofpoverty.com.