This week I’m in Guatemala with the relief organization World Vision, witnessing and reporting on all the incredible work they are doing here. This is the first in a series of posts I’ll be sharing each day about my experiences. I hope you find them interesting, but more importantly I hope in some small way they inspire you to act.
I would be nothing without my mother.
And my grandmother.
And my aunts.
And all the other strong women in my life who have profoundly shaped who I am as a person and how I look at the world.
A big part of the reason they have had so much influence in my life is that my father had none.
I still remember that day in first grade when we spent the day together eating pizza at Mr. Gatti’s and shopping for baseball cards before heading back to my house to play basketball on the small hoop in my driveway.
A cigarette break later and my life changed forever.
I can still remember him putting out his cigarette in the driveway before pausing to deliver the bad news.
He was moving away.
I was shellshocked when he told me and can still remember bursting into angry tears on the spot, but what I didn’t know then was that that would be the last time I would see him and one of the last times I would hear from him until I was in college.
In the nearly two decades in between those two meetings I became a witness to the essential transformative importance of powerful women in my life, particularly my mother.
Without her I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I thought about that today while I watched a training session for World Vision’s Madre Guía, or Guide Mother program.
Like myself, many of the children World Vision finds sponsors for are raised primarily by women because their fathers have stepped out of their lives for one reason or another. So, like my mother, the burden for raising them and feeding them and taking care of them and teaching them all the things they need to know in life falls on their mothers.
Unlike my mother, their moms are born with the deck of life stacked against them. They’re born into poverty and simply don’t have all the resources we take for granted that teach us the ins and outs of providing our children with things like proper nutrition, education, and preventative healthcare.
This is where the Guide Mothers step in. They’re veteran moms teaching new moms how to give their children the best chance and the best possible future.
One of the things I love so much about World Vision’s Guide Mother program is that isn’t a buch of privileged Americans telling underprivileged Guatemalans what to do and how to think.
It’s Guatemalan mothers sharing their wisdom with other Guatemalan mothers so that together they can give their children the future they deserve and in turn reshape their entire community for the better.
What I didn’t realize before today is that by sponsoring a child through World Vision you’re also sponsoring a mom.
When you sponsor a child, part of that money goes towards funding the Guide Mother program. Which makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
We all know that old Chinese proverb – Give a man fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Yes, it’s cheesy and, yes, it’s absurdly cliche, but it also sums up the relationship between World Vision’s child sponsorship and Guide Mother programs pretty well.
Money and food and education and healthcare are great, but those sponsored children need a mother who knows what sort of things to feed them so they will grow healthy and strong. They need a mom who understands and appreciates the opportunities they will have if they’re made to do their homework and finish school. And they need a mother who can recognize how sick they really are and take them to the doctor when their fever gets too high.
Without empowered and equipped mothers, World Vision’s child sponsorship program simply wouldn’t be as effective as it is.
And without you neither program would work at all.
I am living proof of how important a mother is in the life of her child.
World Vision’s Guide Mother program is proof that a community working together can change the course of its future.
And to borrow from my new Guatemalan friend Francisco, if you choose to sponsor a child and their mother, you become the proof that somebody loves them and believes in them and believes that with just a little bit of help they can create a community of hope and opportunity for themselves and their neighbors.
So, I hope you’ll consider sponsoring a child today because it’s not just one life you’ll be changing.
It’s an entire neighborhood.
Grace and peace,