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Friday, May 6, 2011

Motherhood brings unspeakable joy, but all moms know it’s not easy

In celebration of Mother's Day, May 8, 2011, Lina Hashem, Islamic Relief USA communications specialist and mother of two, writes about the significance of being a mother.

The early years can mire a mother in diapers, midnight feedings, lack of sleep. Then you watch your child grow older and head away from you – onto the bus for first grade, behind the wheel of a car, off to college, down the aisle on her wedding day.

But in some countries, the hardships are much more basic: Can I get to a doctor for prenatal care? Will I have help from a doctor, nurse or midwife for the birth itself? Will I survive?

And then, looking into the hungry eyes of my child … can I find food for him? Can I get help for her when she is sick? In some countries, as many as one in every four children born this year will die before his fifth birthday – will my child be one of them?

In the United States, good medical care makes childbirth relatively safe. A mother in the United States has a 14 in 100,000 chance of dying. In Afghanistan – where only 14% of births are attended by medical personnel – a mother’s chance of dying during birth is 10,000% higher.

According to the World Health Organization, one thousand women died every day in 2008 from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, the vast majority of them in poor regions of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Save the Children ranked Afghanistan as the worst place to be a mother — Yemen was not far behind, ranked at 161 out of 164 countries, and Mali came in at 157. Islamic Relief provides programs that help women in all of these countries and many more.

In Afghanistan, Islamic Relief is giving women education and entrepreneurial support so they can live better lives and provide for their children.

In Yemen, Islamic Relief programs are teaching women practices to improve their health as well as that of their children. These programs also help free them from crushing daily burdens so they can work and lift their families out of poverty.

In Mali, pregnant women are at heightened risk for malaria, a deadly threat. An Islamic Relief program is providing them with preventative care and treatment if they get sick. A new maternal health center is helping save lives of mothers in a country where 830 mothers die for every 100,000 births.

Countless other Islamic Relief programs help mothers around the world. In Pakistan, at a new health clinic in Nowshera funded by Islamic Relief USA, teams hired a female doctor so conservative women will agree to receive medical treatment. Here in the United States, an Islamic Relief grant is supporting a shelter for battered women and their children in Baltimore.

Islamic Relief is working to alleviate the suffering of mothers around the world. This Mother’s Day, when you give your beloved mother a gift, consider giving one of these other mothers a gift as well – a gift that might just save her life and allow her children the blessing and right to grow up with a mother.

Please donate.

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