For more than a decade, God has taken me on a journey. A journey in which I had to walk by faith, not by sight. I didn’t know where God was leading me, and I wasn’t sure I was ready to follow. But I did. I followed God to corners of the world I never imagined I would ever visit: places like Cambodia, Mozambique, and Rwanda. God called me out of my insulated suburban life in Southern California, opening my eyes to the painful reality of those in the most dire of circumstances — orphans, those living with HIV and AIDS, and those in extreme poverty.
Upon this journey I have come to know the suffering of mothers and children with many faces and many names. I have listened with a broken heart to stories of violence against women and children and stories of mothers dying in childbirth. I have met orphaned children caring for their orphaned siblings and have met children in the care of their grandmothers because their parents had died of HIV and AIDS. These people and these stories matter.
Today I write for The Mother and Child Project because God calls us to
speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. — Proverbs 31:8
Last year, more than 6.6 million children under the age of five died from preventable, treatable causes. Many of these children died in the arms of loving parents who simply didn’t have access to basic newborn care, simple antibiotics, vaccines, or oral rehydration therapies. For pennies to the dollar, these children’s lives could have been saved. In addition, more than 287,000 women died last year in childbirth. They died because they lacked a skilled attendant during birth and had complications during pregnancy or delivery.
The good news is that we know how to prevent these needless tragic deaths. The challenge is to choose to do so.
If the mother can remain healthy and happy and stable, the family can flourish physically, socially, economically, and spiritually. When families gain the skills to plan the timing and spacing of their children, and when mothers have access to prenatal care, lives will be saved. Then other global health issues can be tackled.
We can begin to combat extreme poverty, keep young girls and children in school, promote gender equality, improve maternal and child health, and fight infectious diseases like HIV and AIDS.
In the developing world, too many mothers are losing their children to preventable, treatable causes. Likewise, too many children are losing their mothers due to complications in pregnancy and birth that could easily be avoided.
In 2013, I, too, became a mother who lost her child. I empathize and resonate with the intense grief of such a precious, tragic loss. I stand by these millions of women and children in their loss around the world to say that in the midst of mourning, we can choose to do something. We, as Americans, can choose to prevent these deaths with our personal and governmental support for maternal, newborn, and child health and healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies in ways that honor God. Our voices can and will make a difference. And, in doing so, we choose joy.
Watch The Mother and Child Project Video
Excerpted with permission from The Mother and Child Project by Melinda Gates, Christine Caine, William H. Frist, MD, copyright Zondervan.
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Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. — Proverbs 31:8. How do you choose to help mothers and children worldwide? How are you contributing the the health, wellness, and lives of the poor, disenfranchised, and at risk? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear your thoughts. ~ Faith.Full