Monday, May 9, 2011

Beyond Flowers by Nicholas Kristof

"The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." ― John Wooden, American basketball player and former head coach at the University of California at Los Angeles

A BELATED happy Mother's Day to every mother everywhere. My own mother, Helen, died when she was 36 and I was six. Helen's Pajama Party is named in her honor.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of so much injustice and suffering in the world. How can any one person make a difference? But individuals do all the time. See how one woman in Somaliland and a few people in Minnesota and Connecticut are saving women's lives half a world away.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tells the story.

Beyond Flowers for Mom

By Nicholas Kristof
May 4, 2011

In a few days Americans will celebrate Mother’s Day with roses, chocolates and fine dinners, inducing warm and fuzzy feelings all around. But, in addition, I’ll bet helping mothers less fortunate would also render any mom giddy.

That’s what some Americans have decided to do: commemorate motherhood by saving the lives of mothers halfway around the world — such as in this impoverished nook of Somaliland in the horn of Africa. Beyond celebrating moms with fleeting flowers, they are helping an extraordinary Somali woman, Edna Adan, run a maternity hospital here to make childbirth safer.

We in journalism often focus on villains, but Edna is one of my heroes. She’s a tireless 73-year-old whose passion is to save her countrywomen’s lives, get them access to family planning and end female genital mutilation.

Somaliland is a breakaway republic carved from Somalia but recognized by no outside country. It has only two OB-GYNs, and a woman here has perhaps a 1-in-10 lifetime risk of dying in childbirth. Just about the most dangerous thing a Somali woman can do is become pregnant, but Edna — with her American supporters — is changing that. They provide a lovely example of how Mother’s Day can be about something richer than the finest chocolate, and more lasting.

One of the first Somali women in this region to get a proper education and study in the West, Edna became a nurse-midwife and served in a senior post in the United Nations. For a time, she was foreign minister of Somaliland.

Click here to read the entire New York Times article.

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