Around the world with 5 wonderful moms

May 11, 2017
Written by Kristin Myers
Photo by Kieran McConville

When you work in 24 countries across the globe, you’re bound to meet a lot of amazing moms. This Mother’s Day, we’re looking back at the stories of some of our favorites.

Over the years, we’ve found that investing in mothers is the single best way to improve the health, wealth, and wellbeing of communities. Moms are some of the most important people on earth, so naturally they’re at the center of much of our programming. This Mother’s Day, meet five of the moms that we have been lucky enough to work with from Bangladesh to Haiti.

Need a last-minute gift for Mother’s Day? Send her one of four beautiful e-cards and help support mothers like these around the world. 

Nyakama in South Sudan

Nyakama Mayiel with her 8-month-old daughter, Nyabila

Nyakama Mayiel, 19 with her 8-month-old daughter, Nyabila, at one of the Concern nutrition centers in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in Unity State, South Sudan. Photo: Kieran McConville

When 19-year-old Nyakama Mayiel’s village in South Sudan was attacked, she fled to a Protection of Civilians site in Bentiu, where Concern provides shelter to over 100,000 people. Her 8-month-old daughter, Nyabila, was severely malnourished, but she received treatment at Concern’s nutrition center and responded well, getting back to her smiley self.

Yana in Lebanon

Yana, a 37-year-old refugee from Syria, and her two daughters

Yana, a 37-year-old refugee from Syria, sits in a collective center in Northern Lebanon with her two daughters. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith, Panos Pictures

When war broke out in Syria, 37-year-old Yana* said, “we lacked food and the bombs meant the children couldn’t sleep.” She and her two daughters fled to one of the collective centers Concern supported in Northern Lebanon. The Syrian Crisis has made access to education a major challenge for these refugee children who: 

  • Have been out of the system for two or three years or never attended school
  • Have experienced social trauma or tensions between refugees and the host community
  • Don’t speak French or English — the languages of instruction in Lebanon, jointly with Arabic (instruction in Syria would have only been in Arabic)
  • Are living in overcrowded or unsanitary informal tented settlements or shared housing
  • Whose families can’t afford the cost of education, or need them to contribute to the family’s income

Thankfully, Yana’s girls no longer hear the sound of bombs when they try to sleep, and are able to attend school. And Yana was offered psychosocial support to help her deal with the trauma of war and the stresses of refugee life.

*Names have been changed for security.

Christela in Haiti

Christela Louis and her young children outside their home in Grand Ravine, one of Haiti’s most notorious slums. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Panos Pictures for Concern Worldwide

Just seven months ago, Christela Louis braced for the harsh winds and heavy rains of Hurricane Matthew in Grand Ravine — a large slum perched on a steep hillside in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This mother of four explained how the Category 4 storm claimed the lives of three family members in the south of Haiti, but she and her kids made it through unscathed.

They were spared the devastating winds, and new drainage channels and erosion protection, built by Concern, prevented flooding down Grand Ravine’s winding streets. In addition to the construction project, small business training was offered to her community, and Christela learned to bake. She has now been working at a bakery for more than a year, and instead of struggling to make ends meet for her and her kids, Christela is now building her income and confidence. She told us that she hopes to grow her own business and start saving.

Shahnaz in Bangladesh

Shahnaz and her daughter Jannat

Shahnaz and her daughter Jannat in their home in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo: Jennifer Nolan

Shahnaz and her daughter Jannat used to live on the streets of Bangladesh’s capital city, Dhaka. Like all pavement dwellers (as the homeless are formally called in Bangladesh), they were vulnerable to abuse and crime, as well as the elements. But with help from Concern’s Amrao Manush project, Shahnaz and her daughter are now renting a room in a building that is clean and safe. Jannat can even have her own toys.

Sharkilra in Malawi

Sharkilra demonstrates how she planted the fruit trees with the seeds she received from Concern Worldwide. Soon these will grow in to banana, mango, orange and papaya trees. Photo: Jennifer Nolan

Sharkilra Mdoka has a smile on her face because her six kids are now getting the nutrients they need to grow big and strong. In recent years her country, Malawi, has experienced greater human development and economic stability, but poverty and food security remain a stubborn challenge. Before receiving seeds from Concern, Sharkilra’s kids did not go hungry, but their diet was limited to sima — a thick maize porridge. Now this 37-year-old mother is growing banana, mango, orange and papaya trees, so her children have a diversified diet, and she has the means to build a new home and lay down some roots. 


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