USA: Returning to Myself in Paris

USA: Returning to Myself in Paris

Just last week, I found myself in Paris, France. I was about to meet my niece, who was studying abroad, but I gave myself an extra first day on my own. I made plans with our contributor in Paris, Marie Kléber, whom I didn’t know very well, but whom I was so excited to meet!

She met me at my hotel, and we headed out by metro to the area of Saint Martin. She helped me navigate purchasing my travel card, and led me to a trendy, “oh so good!”, vegan place for lunch. We sat on high stools looking out toward the street. We talked and talked and talked! (Mostly in English, but later switched to French!) I wanted to know all about her life. What her life was like in Paris as a mom. About the French elections happening the next day. She was curious about how World Moms Network got started, and if I had met any of the other World Moms and who! (Lucky to say, yes, I have!)

It felt surreal. I traveled all this way, and all of a sudden I have a good friend here whom I had never met before. But, it’s not a unique feeling. It’s the same feeling when Purnima from India met Ecoziva in Brazil. When Tara from Canada met Nancy in Tanzania. When Martine from the Philippines met Ruth in Singapore. When I met Mama B. from Saudi Arabia in NYC. In our own efforts we are satisfying (or igniting more!) curiosities about the world through meeting women from around the world. Woman who we wouldn’t come across in our towns or cities at home. We found them through this network.

In France I had a feeling of complete comfort in a foreign city that had just been the site of a terrorist attack the night before. After lunch Marie took me to see the statue of Rèpublique, a piece of her French heritage. Then, I assumed I’d just find my way back to my hotel on my own. I had such a fantastic time with her!!

But no, Marie, rode the metro back toward my hotel with me, out of her way. And walked me back to my hotel. She was going to tell me how best to get to a friend’s place for later tonight. It turned out it was only 2 blocks from where she lived. What are the chances of that? So, Marie insisted that she take me to my friend’s doorstep. And I insisted that she come in and meet my friend!

World Moms Network reminds me that the world isn’t so big. That there are amazing people to meet in every culture. We just have to reach out and allow ourselves to be connected. Let go of what is familiar. We may be surprised.

Marie gave me more than just great conversation, a tour around her home city, and sight-seeing tips for me and my niece. I had been feeling burnt out lately. I had spent so many years straight working and squeezing hours as though squeezing the last of the toothpaste to work on World Moms Network since 2010. And this past 100 days, watching how my own country is trying to defund the very life-saving global health programs that I’ve been writing about and passionately advocating for. Calling my Senators and Congressman. Reading. Disappointed. And on top of all that, busier in my children’s lives in my new role this year as Girl Scout Leader. And finally making exercise a priority for my health.

World Moms Network has continued to deliver while I have been juggling other life stages because of the strength of the team of women behind me. Just in case you ever thought that this site was just me, it’s sooo never been just me. Thank you to the World Moms who carry the torch when other World Moms just cannot.

It’s amazing how a conversation with a new friend thousands of miles away can take you back to what you stand for. For what you fight for. For peace. For friendship. For understanding. For cultural appreciation. For respect. For maturity. To help you find your footing. Guide you back to writing. To restore you energy.

It’s been awhile since I wrote. Thank you, Marie. I’m back.

This is an original post to World Moms Network 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,, 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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PHILIPPINES: Choosing My Son’s President (Edited)

PHILIPPINES: Choosing My Son’s President (Edited)

I’ll tell you a secret. In the weeks leading up to the Philippine presidential elections, a lot of people asked me who I was voting for. My default answer was always, “It’s a secret. I don’t like talking about it.”

But the truth is I had no idea. I remained undecided until a few days before voting day.

Why? Because I knew that I wasn’t just voting for me.

I knew that whoever would win wasn’t going to be just my president, but my son’s president, too.

He or she would determine what kind of country my son would be living in over the next six years, and these are important, formative years. Within the next six years my boy will become a teenager. Within the next six years he will go through middle- and high-school. Within the next six years he will begin to turn into his own person.

This president is someone that he will remember. This president should be someone he can look up to.

Well, Election Day has come and gone here in the Philippines. The candidate that I have finally chosen did not win. On the upside, none of those whom I was certain not to vote for made it either.

As the dust settles, and we look ahead, I want the best for my country and I will remain optimistic.

This new president is not part of any prominent political family. This is such a welcome change, especially since political dynasties are so common in our country. Will this mean a greater potential for actual change? Time will tell.

While my son knows that the new president wasn’t my first choice, I have explained that he was chosen by our countrymen and that I will give him a chance. I tell my child that no matter what, I hope that the new government can make this country a better place.

I love this country, and it was never an option to leave, no matter who assumed the presidency. But I love my son, too, and I want for him to live in a country that he can fall in love with, flaws and all, the way that I have.

Here’s hoping that the new president, even though he wasn’t exactly the one I chose to be my son’s leader, turns out to put the people of the Philippines first. Here’s hoping that the country that I love so dearly has chosen well. Here’s looking towards a better future for us all.

Tell us some things about the leader of your country. How is he/she like? And how is this leader suited for the kids/teenagers and adolescents in your country?

Post Edited 11:04pm EST May 18, 2016.

This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Mrs. C. of the Philippines.

Photo credit to the author.

Patricia Cuyugan (Philippines)

Patricia Cuyugan is a wife, mom, cat momma, and a hands-on homemaker from Manila, whose greatest achievement is her pork adobo. She has been writing about parenting for about as long as she’s been a parent, which is just a little over a decade. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her reading a book, binge-watching a K-drama series, or folding laundry. She really should be writing, though! Follow her homemaking adventures on Instagram at @patriciacuyugs. 

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SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil

SOUTH AFRICA: Surviving the Turmoil


I recently read a very thought-provoking post by a fellow #WorldMom with the title of My Frame World. In it, she wrote,

The manageable reality is my reference, a framework to enable me to keep functioning. It enables me to get up at a quarter past seven to cut some pieces of imported mango for my precious children. To sigh when looking at overflowing laundry baskets. To nag about an energy-devouring meeting that took longer than expected. It’s the framework that’s keeping me whole. The Frame World.

She ended her post with the question: “How do you deal with the discrepancy between your own private life and the tragedies around it? Does your Frame World help keeping you sane or is it rather keeping you from acting?”

I’ve been sitting with the abovementioned questions for a while, because they deserve a serious answer. It made me think about how we’re all first and foremost mothers. As such, our first duty is to protect our own children to the best of our ability, and to raise them to become contributing members of our society . My late grandfather always said; “Charity begins at home”.


I was born in Rome, Italy. My family emigrated to Cape Town, South Africa, when I was 8 years old. My husband’s family emigrated here when he was 5 years old. Both of our families were thinking that Italy was doomed, and that South Africa was the “Promised Land”. We grew up here, met and married here, and raised our children in “The Mother City”. 

I love this country and this city, but lately the tragedies have hit very close to home. South Africa is currently in turmoil.

Municipal elections will be held this year and (like every other election year) the violent protests have become so commonplace that they’re not even really considered “newsworthy” any more, which is sad. The violence makes many people afraid to speak out. From my experience, caucasians are afraid to speak out against the ethnic majority, when it comes to any government issue, in fear of being labeled racist.

The wounds of Apartheid are still very raw in our country, and inequality still exists. Even though the ethnic majority and ruling party have been in power for over 20 years, the road to repair the wrongs of the past is long and winding, and the ride is bumpy. We are experiencing the growing pains of bringing South Africa to a true equality. The weight of a pendulum swings from side to side until it achieves equilibrium. I can’t help but feel that South Africa is still a swinging pendulum as it seeks equality for all of its people.


So how do I deal with the discrepancy between my own private life and the tragedies around it? The same way that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

I have learnt that I need to pace myself because if I burn myself out, it doesn’t help anyone. There’s a reason why air hostesses always say that you need to secure your own oxygen mask first, before trying to assist anyone else!

I also make constant use of The Serenity Prayer (God, please grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference). I’m not always wise, but I know that I am doing the best that I can, and that must be enough, because nobody can do more than their best!

Mother Teresa has been quoted as saying; “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

That is how I deal with the fact that the needs of the world are so immense, that they can become completely overwhelming, if you let them. Like the little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean – he made a difference to that one, and that is good enough.

So I pick small things that I can do with great love, and I do that. I also decided to concentrate all my fundraising efforts to one charity that is very close to my heart: We raise awareness of the early warning signs of childhood cancer. The money raised is used to help the families affected by childhood cancer with whatever they might need.


In the end, though, I survive the turmoil by being grateful.

Grateful to be part of this amazing community of World Moms, who have become my Soul Sisters around the world. Grateful for my 19 year old daughter and 23 year old son who make me so proud. Grateful for my husband of over 25 years who takes such good care of me and our family when I’m not able to, due to my health issues. Grateful that I have a roof over my head and food to spare. Grateful for every “good day” that follows a “bad pain day.” I could go on and on. You see, I’ve learnt that nothing can make you feel better than feeling grateful for even the smallest thing.

When you start noticing how many things you actually have to be grateful for, it gives you the strength to deal with anything life throws at you!

What are you grateful for? What helps you deal with turmoil in your life?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mamma Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credits: Image of inked thumb courtesy of Darryn van der Walt / Flickr. Image of Nelson Mandela statue courtesy of Everyman Films / Flickr. Image of Cape Town via David Stanley / Flickr. Image of South African flag courtesy of flowcomm / Flickr

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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WORLD VOICE: Americans Voted…So, Now What?

WORLD VOICE: Americans Voted…So, Now What?

Cynthia and her daughters take a family selfie after voting

Cynthia and her daughters take a family selfie after voting

I’m an American and I voted on November 4th. I’m guessing that most of the global readership of World Moms blog didn’t follow our elections because this is not a presidential election year, but that’s okay. A lot of Americans didn’t either. That’s not okay.

Shamefully, only 38% of Americans voted in this November 4th election, which means 6 in 10 of us didn’t vote.

But that’s life. Low voter turn out in the off years of politics is just the way it goes. People tune out without the razzle-dazzle of a presidential slugfest and a new Congress is elected. But, now what do we do if we want to make our country better? Do we have to wait another two years to have a say? No. Not at all!

As angry as some people in my country tend to get with the leader of our country, the president of the United States is not the only one who has influence over policies that have wide-reaching impact on the lives of Americans and all residents of planet Earth. Members of Congress are elected to represent us in our 50 states and have their own measure of power on domestic and global affairs that can help or hinder a presidential agenda. For instance, the president can make budget recommendations, but only Congress can approve the actual spending of money. Budget decisions, foreign aid policies, gun laws, environmental policies, and a host of other choices are made by senators and representatives all year round.

This leads me to my main point. Election day is not the only day when Americans have a voice in government.

Since important decisions are being made every day, then every single day is an opportunity for Americans to shape U.S. policies whether it be through tweeting, blogging, writing letters to the editor, calling members of Congress, writing handwritten letters to Congress, or meeting face-to-face in Congressional offices. All of these actions are open to us. It is our right as citizens. (By the way, even if you’re not a citizen you can still write to U.S. newspapers or use Twitter to organize)

The idea that Americans can only affect what our government does only once every 4 years is a naive and antiquated notion.

 U.S. Representative Jan Schakowksy of Illinois reads a letter from Cynthia's children about supporting global child survival programs.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowksy of Illinois reads a letter from Cynthia’s children about supporting global child survival programs.

TV news – or any news, really – would lead anyone to think that voting or contributing large amounts of money are the only things that citizens can do. When so many people don’t know what kinds of effective actions they can personally take, most people end up just frustrated and giving up on our system without ever truly being a part of it. That’s the bad news. The good news is that this huge gap between most citizens and government creates space for concerned citizen lobbyists to slide right in and have great impact. I’m talking about everyday, concerned citizens just like you!

Even a modest amount of 10-20 phone calls on a topic can sometimes greatly influence a member of Congress because few Americans really bother to do it. A constituent meeting face-to-face with congressional staff or an actual member of Congress is even more rare and makes even more impact. These simple actions can have a great effect, especially if it’s an important yet little known issue.

Take, for example, funding to fight tuberculosis (TB), a highly contagious airborne disease. Most people in the U.S. think it doesn’t even exist anymore if they’ve ever thought about it at all. The truth is that in 2012, 8.6 million people fell ill with TB and more than 1.3 million people died from it, making TB the most deadly curable disease in the world. 95% of cases happening in low or middle-income countries, but since it spreads through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks it can jump to wealthy nations even easier than Ebola. If treated improperly or ignored, it gives rise to forms of multi drug-resistant TB, which are far more difficult and costly to treat. RESULTS volunteer advocates keep up the drumbeat to members of Congress to fund the very inexpensive treatments to save lives across the globe and in the U.S. to make a tremendous impact on the dignity and income of people in poverty who can keep working in good health. Since no one is actually lobbying against saving lives from TB, a relatively small number of volunteers can educate their elected officials about it and have a huge impact on global health to the tune of $1.1 billion in new resources last year and $1.4 billion overall for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria. All this is done by earnest citizens voicing opinions without the media circus of an election cycle.

Cynthia and fellow RESULTS activist Richard Smiley talk to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of IL about microfinance

Cynthia and fellow RESULTS activist Richard Smiley talk to U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of IL about microfinance

Every election day, I encourage my fellow Americans to get out and vote, to be sure! That’s where engaged citizenship starts. But we shouldn’t stop there. Let our elected officials know what you want after they’re in office even if – especially if – they are not of the party you favor. Get involved with an advocacy group that shares your global outlook and desires to help mothers and children. (ONE, RESULTS, Shot@Life, and Bread for the World are great places to start) In our country, senators and representatives represent are supposed to work for US. It is your right and privilege to contact them on the issues that are important to you. Don’t waste it!

This is an original post written by Cindy Levin for World Moms Blog.

Do you vote?

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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