This month, we invite you to meet 11 mothers whose lives you've reached around the world. Whether women are making dinner around a fire in Mali or tending gardens in the highlands of Peru, one thing remains the same: love.
Meet Rokia Sako
Rokia is a hardworking and industrious mother of three living in the Ségou Region of Mali in West Africa, where extreme weather, conflict and supply chain shortages continue to ravage communities. Despite these challenges, she makes sure her children get the food they need to survive. “My children have never experienced anything like [malnutrition], because I spend all my energy on providing for them,” she says. “I do my best so that they may not lack food.”
Rokia heard that food and fertilizer kits were available at reduced prices to families in the area, a program that your generosity made possible. Knowing this was a rare opportunity, she decided she had to find a way to buy a kit. But that meant (for the second time this year) selling off livestock for cash. “I am managing things wisely,” she says reassuringly.
Rokia’s savvy money management has kept her family fed, but unfortunately her children still haven’t attended school because they can’t afford a bicycle. And to make matters more complicated, her youngest son struggles with physical and cognitive differences. “My wish is that [my children] succeed in life,” she says. “But for them to succeed, I will need to enroll them in school so they can study as long as possible.”
Meet Enma Mendez Sinchitullo
In the VRAEM region of Peru, the manual labor of harvesting and processing of cacao for chocolate production has always heavily relied on women, while the legal ownership and profit from the harvest has nearly always belonged to men. That began to change in 2018 when Enma Mendez Sinchitullo, a mom and community leader, set out to build a better future for herself, her children and her community.
The VRAEM is a dangerous area known for illicit production of coca leaf, used to make cocaine. From within this volatile and male-dominated community, Enma led a group of 35 women in the launching of an all-female cacao cooperative called Qori Warmi. With you by their side, the women of the cooperative have been able to increase their household income and improve their families' lives by growing organic cacao and making award-winning chocolate.
When Enma first told her husband about the cooperative he scoffed and told her she needed to stay home to watch their children. But she wasn’t deterred, and when she was invited to Paris for the International Chocolate Awards, her daughter said, “Wow! Mom, you really get to go?”
Enma says, “We want this co-operative to exist for many years to come, it’s for our children, for our grandchildren.”
Meet Ludmyla Kamins'ka
Last year, Ludmyla Kamins'ka, the widowed mother to six-year-old Sviatoslav, packed their things and left their home and her community behind, not knowing when or if they would be able to return. When fighting in Donetsk, a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, began encroaching closer to their home, Ludmyla didn’t see any option but to leave. “Because I feared for my child's life, I decided to leave rather than stay there.”
Two of the over 13 million people who have been forced to flee their home in Ukraine since the start of the war, Ludmyla and her son made it to a safe place in Lviv, on the western side of the country, where they have received warm meals and peace of mind. “Thanks to the organization, thanks to God, we have everything here.”
Ludmyla keeps a photo on their night table in their room in the sanatorium of Sviatoslav’s father who died last year from Covid-19. She hopes to return to their town soon so she can raise her son in their home.
Meet Sultana Abrach
Lebanon has one of the widest gender gaps in the world, with only 1 in every 4 women being employed. Sultana Abrach, a mother and wife living in northern Lebanon, plans to beat those odds. She stopped going to school at age 12 and is the mother of two small children. Sultana recently joined a program for women to participate in business courses. As part of the program, she has been issued a laptop to enroll in the online courses. Sultana has never used a computer before but is eager to learn how so she can access the courses.
Women like Sultana also have the opportunity to join activities that link women to business in the community. Sultana wants to develop her business so she can be self-reliant. She wants to be able to depend herself and her own income instead of relying on the men in her family. She is excited to learn a new skill that will help her contribute financially to the care of her family.
Meet Joseline Vumilia
Joseline has had nine pregnancies, but six miscarried. With a maternal mortality rate of 473 deaths per 100,000 live births, the Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous places on Earth to give birth. On the night of October 15, 2022, the midwives on duty at the Munigi health center in Goma said Joseline’s case was “hard and there was a lot of bleeding.” Her blood pressure had dropped.
But, thankfully, some of the health care workers at the health center had attended an emergency obstetrics training, and they knew what to do.
Joseline gave birth at midnight to a baby girl. “I felt so happy when I saw my baby,” she said at about noon the next day.
Thanks to your support, in the past 8 years, 2.23 million births have been attended by program-trained, skilled health personnel and 1.35 million pregnant women and children under the age of 5 have received direct nutrition interventions.
Meet Deysi Milagros Canales Machuca
High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, it isn’t always easy to grow food to feed your family, and after a severe drought in 2011, the Castrovirreyna community was on the brink of collapse. Deysi Milagros Canales Machuca was still a young girl at the time but remembers when an LWR-supported program helped to reinvigorate her family’s farm and the local economy.
Deysi says that growing up during that time, her mother, Alfonsa, who participated in the program, was always able to provide her with everything she needed.
Today, Deysi is the proud mother to her own daughter, Alice, born in early 2022. Because of the support Deysi received from her own mother and the programing supported by LWR, she was able to attend school, become a teacher and is now continuing her education to become a nurse. Now, Deysi will be able to provide for her young daughter just like her mother provided for her.
Deysi’s dreams for her daughter are “to be happy … to be responsible, kind, and to care about everyone, all of humanity.”
Meet Svitlana Andryshchenko
"To change country in a day with your children, going to nowhere, is very difficult, I can’t even explain it.”
Svitlana Andryshchenko’s is one of millions of mothers in Ukraine who had to flee their homes with their children after the Russian invasion on February 24 last year, leaving behind husbands, fathers, brothers and friends. After safely crossing into Poland, Svitlana had to find food and shelter in a new country with her two daughters. She found her way to St. Martin's Lutheran Church, operating as a makeshift refugee hostel.
When Svitlana recalls her decision to leave her home and her husband behind, she says, “It is very painful, but the health of children and personal safety is the most important thing for every mother.”
Svitlana’s own mother and her sister remained in Ukraine because they were afraid of the perilous journey to the border. She says they are lucky to have everything they need here in the church while so many others are stuck in Ukraine struggling to access basic needs.
Svitlana is grateful for the peacefulness and warmth of the church and for taking her and her daughters in. "They sheltered us, you know? Here we are with all these bags. I can't even express how grateful I am.”
Meet Libranita br Tarigan
Libranita br Tarigan is a mother and community leader from North Sumatra, Indonesia. She has three children and starts her morning by cooking, washing and doing all of the household chores, including preparing breakfast for her children before taking them to school. She will then head to work on the family farm. Afterwards, she will return home to cook dinner in the evening. Her husband is an elected community leader and as his wife, Libranita is also very involved in community welfare initiatives.
In 2022, seeing that poor sanitation and hygiene in her community Libranita joined a program focusing on sanitation and hygiene. After being trained in waste management, she encouraged her community to establish a garbage bank. Garbage banks are places where waste with economic value can be collected, recycled and sold for additional income.
Libranita is a key leader on the garbage bank management committee. Her community’s garbage bank is considered one of the most active. She is involved in sorting waste as well as bookkeeping and accounting.
She sees the impact that these initiatives are having on future generations, saying she does this work for her community and for her children, “It is important to work in order to support the community … I am active in this social area for my children.”
Meet Agata Nicolaus Mtewele
Agata is a mother to six children, including a set of twins and a set of triplets. She and her husband have a small farm in Tanzania where they grow beans and maize. Almost all of their food comes from their farm.
Recent times have been difficult. To prepare for Agata’s delivery of the triplets in October 2021, they had to sell more of their produce than normal so that they could pay for the C-section procedure that was required. Agata worries that there will not be enough to get them to the next harvest in September.
In order to produce enough milk for the triplets, Agata must rely on neighbors sharing their sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, otherwise her milk will not come. She often must remove one child while he/she is eating to allow the others to have some. She doesn’t know how her babies will ever be able to get enough milk to be satisfied.
Agata was not able to attend much school as a child, and so, despite having very little income to pay school fees and buy books, she is prioritizing education for her children. She is able to send her oldest son to school and hopes to send the twins next year. Her oldest son loves to study, saying he hopes to be able to take care of his mother in the future.
Meet Irma Morales Morales
Irma Morales Morales struggled to breastfeed her first six children. She wasn’t producing enough milk and several of her children suffered from malnutrition as a result.
Irma lives in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, where 80% of people live in poverty and two thirds of young children suffer from anemia. Contaminated water and poor hygiene lead to stomach illnesses while inadequate farming practices mean little nutritious food and minimal income for families. Irma herself was malnourished which was leading to her lack of breastmilk.
Today, Irma’s youngest child, Arcelia Morales is getting the nutrients she needs. Irma has learned more effective farming practices, safer hygiene and proper infant nutritional care. The family also received a household water filtration system.
Irma is pleased with how much her new skills and knowledge has improved the health of her family. “It has helped my children's health and the health of all of us.”
Speaking about her youngest daughter, Irma says, "I have mostly given her breast milk so that she can grow up healthy. And what I do is eat more myself, so that there is more milk to feed my baby."
Meet Alev Güzel
Alev Güzel lives in Antakya, Türkiye with her husband and four children. She recalls the horror of the February 6 earthquakes saying, “The day of the earthquake was a nightmare. I don't even want to remember it.”
After evacuating the house, the family stayed in their car until dawn. The children didn’t have on any shoes or coats because they had to flee so quickly. The next day they set up a tent themselves and spent the next night inside without even a blanket. On the following day, they received blankets and food for their children, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
While Alev herself is dealing with the trauma of losing her home and family members, and seeing the extensive destruction around her, she is also serving as a comfort to her four young children.