TEXAS, USA: Writer’s Block

TEXAS, USA: Writer’s Block

Mother and daughterI was watching my daughter play with a bubble machine today. She and I were laughing as she was running through the bubbles, and we were both looking at the bubbles floating up to the sky trying to see different images.  I looked over at her as she watched the bubbles drift away and she had the biggest, sweetest smile on her face.  I wondered in my mind if she would remember this extra special ordinary day because I knew I was making an imprint of it in my own mind…these special moments with just the two of us in the middle of the day in the middle of a week are starting to slip through my fingers… (more…)

Meredith (USA)

Meredith finds it difficult to tell anyone where she is from exactly! She grew up in several states, but mainly Illinois. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana which is also where she met her husband. She taught kindergarten for seven years before she adopted her son from Guatemala and then gave birth to her daughter two years leter. She moved to Lagos, Nigeria with her husband and two children in July 2009 for her husband's work. She and her family moved back to the U.S.this summer(August 2012) and are adjusting to life back in the U.S. You can read more about her life in Lagos and her adjustment to being back on her blog: We Found Happiness.

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SINGAPORE: The Memories We Create

SINGAPORE: The Memories We Create

MothersDayLately, I have been thinking a lot about my childhood, and as far as I can remember, it had been rather boring.

My parents were poor so we never went on any family holidays abroad. But that’s no excuse for not having some fun family activities. Yet, when I try recalling what we did as a family, my mind is often a blank. We did visit some places of interests but these were more treats than a regular feature. I suppose one of the reasons was that we were financially challenged and outings do cost money. The other reason, I thought, was that my dad’s job had been tough and the weekend was a time to catch some rest.

But we did have fun in small little ways.

I always remember how my dad would catch dragonflies (and another kind of insect which I never found out its name) for me and tie a thin little string on their tails and I would fly them as if they were kites (but we never killed them – we would always return them to nature). Or my dad would bring me to this theme park at night where I loved trying on clip earrings at one of the stalls. I was just a little girl then – probably not even in kindergarten yet!

But somehow, mom seemed often missing in the picture – I couldn’t remember why. She must have stayed home to catch up with house chores which she couldn’t do while looking after me during the day.

Now that I am a mother, I want to be different. (more…)


Ruth lives in Singapore, a tiny island 137 kilometres north of the equator. After graduating from university, she worked as a medical social worker for a few years before making a switch to HR and worked in various industries such as retail, banking and manufacturing. In spite of the invaluable skills and experiences she had gained during those years, she never felt truly happy or satisfied. It was only when she embarked on a journey to rediscover her strengths and passion that this part of her life was transformed. Today, Ruth is living her dreams as a writer. Ironically, she loves what she does so much that at one point, she even thought that becoming a mom would hinder her career. Thanks to her husband’s gentle persuasions, she now realises what joy she would have missed out had she not changed her mind. She is now a happy WAHM. Ruth launched MomME Circle, a resource site to support and inspire moms to create a life and business they love. She has a personal blog Mommy Café where she writes about her son's growing up and shares her interests such as food and photography.

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MOROCCO: Coming to Terms with Income Inequality, Toddler Addition

IMG_2567My mom loves to tell stories about her girls…to anyone who will listen.  One of her favorites is about my first plane ride home from her native Peru.  At age 6, as I sat in the window seat watching Lima fade away beneath us, I turned to her and said (with wisdom far beyond my years my mum will add) “the trouble with Peru is that the Peruvians don’t take good care of it.”

Admittedly it is one of her less embarrassing stories, better by far than the one that has me passing most of a Greek holiday with a potty on my head.  And lately, as my son gets older, I’ve been thinking more about it.

By the time we leave Morocco this fall, he will not quite be three.  Throughout our time here, that fact made me sad. There is likely little if anything that he will remember about our year in Morocco and our travels in North Africa. But now, this has also made me slightly grateful.

I have started to see the cogs turning in his little head when we pass the women begging on the street, with toddlers his age strapped to their backs.  I see him watching the kids selling cartons of tissues at the stop lights as I guiltily roll up the window.

As his little eyes observe more and more I am starting to be glad that we will leave before the questions start.  He hasn’t progressed much past the basic two-word toddler interrogatives: dada gone? more biscuit? But I am imagining the questions forming, and I need more time to come up with good answers.

When he asks me about these babies on their mothers backs, or the ones selling on streets, what do I say? Moreover, how do you explain your own role in the perpetuation of this inequality.  How do I explain that being asked for the 19th time in one day to spare just 1 dirham irritates me more and more in spite of the fact that had I given one each time, I would now be short only $2? How would I explain that the shoes he’s wearing would cover our gardeners weekly salary?

Observant though I might have been at age 6 about the socio-economics of Peru, it did not give me any head start on figuring out any actionable recommendations for the Peruvians about how to improve their problems of poverty, inequality, pollution.  Nor do I have any for Morocco now, some 25 years later.

I am a big believer in my own and my son’s capacity to save the world. I take part in fundraising campaigns, donate to charity and volunteer.  I will always encourage him to live a life of tolerance, patience and understanding.  But when you live in the midst of an unequal society – to what extent are you compromising your principles by continuing to live in the manner to which you are accustomed?

So while I doubt that I will ever come up with any Nobel Peace prize winning solutions to global income inequality myself, I would at the very least time to come up with a way of explaining poverty to my son.  I would like to be able to explain to him that he is lucky without teaching him conceit or entitlement. I would like to teach him that our relative wealth comes with a responsibility to those less fortunate in such a way that empowers and doesn’t leave me stinking of rank hypocrisy when I look away from the outstretched hands on the street.

How do you teach your children about income inequality when you are living on the “have” side of an unequal society?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by our contributor, Natalia Rankine-Galloway, who writes at The Culture Mum Chronicles.  She is now writing from the U.S. Embassy in Morocco. 

Photo credit to the author.

Natalia Rankine-Galloway (Morocco)

Natalia was born a stone's throw from the Queen's racetrack in Ascot, UK and has been trying to get a ticket to the races and a fabulous hat to go with it ever since. She was born to a Peruvian mother and an Irish father who kept her on her toes, moving her to Spain, Ireland and back to the UK before settling her in New York for the length of middle and high school. She is still uncertain of what she did to deserve that. She fled to Boston for college and then Washington, D.C. to marry her wonderful husband, who she met in her freshman year at college. As a military man, he was able to keep her in the migratory lifestyle to which she had become accustomed. Within 5 months of marriage, they were off to Japan where they stayed for a wonderful 2 and one half years before coming home to roost. Baby Xavier was born in New York in 2011 and has not slept since. A joy and an inspiration, it was Xavier who moved Natalia to entrepreneurship and the launch of CultureBaby. She has loved forging her own path and is excited for the next step for her family and CultureBaby. Natalia believes in the potential for peace that all children carry within them and the importance of raising them as global citizens. She loves language, history, art and culture as well as Vietnamese Pho, Argentinian Malbec, English winters, Spanish summers and Japanese department stores...and she still hopes one day to catch the number 9 race with Queen Liz. You can find her personal blog, The Culture Mum Chronicles.

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Women Deliver Conference In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Women Deliver Conference In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Beginning today in Kuala Lumpur the world gathers at the Women Deliver conference, the third global conference  to be held focusing on the health and well-being of girls and women. Starting today and running through May 30th International leaders, policymakers, healthcare professionals, NGO’s, youth leaders, corporations, and media outlets recognize the value of girls and women and take on solutions to issues affecting girls and women around the world. It is becoming increasingly clear that the most valuable investment we can make is in girls and women.

With the 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline rapidly approaching, the time is now to deliver for girls and women, and Women Deliver 2013 will serve as a global platform for ensuring that the health and rights of girls and women remain top priorities now, and for decades to come.

Luckily we do not have to travel to Malaysia to participate; You can watch the conference livestream or go back to find the sessions that have been recorded that you may have missed. You can chime in or follow using the hashtag #WD2013 on twitter, and get the days re-cap by looking through #WDLive.


The  +Social Good community also launched in Kuala Lumpur this week, and  was inspired by the Social Good Summit, as a community of innovators, connectors and global citizens come together with the shared vision to make the world a better place. There are many ways to join in on the global conversation this week around women, girls and social good, we’ll see you there!

Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog, Documama.org, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid, ONE.org, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on ONE.org, Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.com, EnoughProject.org, GaviAlliance.org, and Worldmomsnetwork.com. Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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UGANDA Day 3: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Extreme Poverty

UGANDA Day 3: Queen Elizabeth National Park & Extreme Poverty

Jennifer Burden traveled by invitation of the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to Uganda to observe UNICEF’s Family and Child Health Days, where children are provided life-saving vaccinations.  This post reflects on Day 3 of her adventure in October. She has previously reported on day 1 about UNICEF offices in Kampala, Uganda and day 2 of her trip at a UNICEF Family Health Day in Mumbende, Uganda.

Riverboat Safari

On Day 3 of our Ugandan adventure we took a detour. We were scheduled to meet with the health staff who were going to be working at the Family Health Days that we were visiting on Sunday, but they were still busy preparing for Sunday. So, we found ourselves with unexpected free time. What better thing to do in Africa when your plans fall through than to visit one of Uganda’s national parks?

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog with Jenny Eckton of Formerly Phread.

Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog with Jenny Eckton of the blog, Formerly Phread while in Uganda in October 2012 with Shot@Life.


Saturday’s adventure led us to Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we went on a river safari cruise on Lake Edward. We saw a multitude of hippos and buffalo, as well as, elephants, crocodiles, monkeys and beautiful birds. We hopped a riverboat and spent the entire time out on the water.  I have never seen so many hippos in my life.  Apparently, some had been brought to the park in the 1960s, and they’ve been expanding every since!  One moment the waters would appear empty, but the next many hippo heads popping up out of the water!  Babies followed their moms. They swam around together in groups. Absolutely incredible!

Culture & Signs of Extreme Poverty

The excursion was a fantastic opportunity for our delegation to get a feel of the country’s natural beauty and a great team building exercise.  We were bonded going into the next Family Health Day. However, driving through the extreme poverty on the long bus ride through the country really put into perspective how much UNICEF’s efforts were needed.

We saw homes made of only big sticks and mud with reeds or tin for roofs. Although they are great “green” homes for the country’s beautiful African sun drenched days, they are unsuitable when temperatures become very cold at night and there is no running water or electricity.

Ugandan house made of mud and sticks.

Ugandan house made of mud and sticks.

Also, children were seen walking long distances in school uniforms, many alone. Women, men and children carried large yellow containers to collect water in and walked for miles home. An image that will never cease to amaze me — the site of an African woman balancing her load on her head and walking on the roadside barefoot.

Woman in Uganda walking on side of road while balancing a head basket.

Woman in Uganda walking on side of road in western Uganda.

Unfinished homes and store fronts were quite common. We were told that owners would save up for bricks and then add gradually to the structure over many years.  It was not uncommon to see unfinished storefronts in use or piles of bricks that had been delivered to unfinished residences. Bricks were made of heated, dried mud.

Here is an example of a typical storefront. This one is a bicycle shop and a clothing store. Often times, the storefronts were painted by companies seeking to advertise mobile phones and other products.

Common roadside storefront in Uganda.

Common roadside storefront in Uganda.

We were truly humbled by our trip out to western Uganda.  The further we drove away from Kampala, the more common it was to see mud huts. And storefronts were everywhere, often with mothers manning them and children playing outside. Day 3 was a truly memorable day. We captured photos that changed us and that will stay in our advocacy hearts forever. This day was good for our delegation to get to know each other better and prepare for the next round of Family Health Days on Day 4.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA. 

Photo credits to the author. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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