World Mom, Elizabeth Atalay, is on @BabyCenter again today!

World Mom, Elizabeth Atalay, is on @BabyCenter again today!

Elizabeth Atalay Head Shot

As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Elizabeth Atalay in the USA writes about the changes to her body during and after birthing and how the experience of birthing has united her to mothers who suffer from obstetric fistula in the developing world.

“Giving birth has a way of connecting women through an awakening of intimate understanding, also known as TMI (too much information)! We share stories with each other about topics previously unspeakable. Hemorrhoids! Incontinence! Milk leaking from breasts! Water breaking in public places! Yikes. The awe of pregnancy and the miracle of our bodies giving birth to new humans are intertwined with the humility it forces upon us like no other experience.”

Read the full post, “I never knew this could happen while giving birth“,  over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!

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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World Mom, Nicole Melancon, is on @BabyCenter Today!

World Mom, Nicole Melancon, is on @BabyCenter Today!

Nicole Melancon Headshot 2015 600

As part of World Moms Blog’s collaboration with BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™, our World Moms are writing posts on maternal health around the world. In today’s post, Nicole Melancon in the USA writes about the importance of “Lie and Wait Houses” when it comes to maternal health for women in Ethiopia.

“The Project Mercy Lie and Wait House was about a three hour drive south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in the heart of rural Ethiopia. From the outside, the pink-colored concrete building was simple, except for a small sign stating the center’s name. Inside was one large room with two small beds, a white plastic chair and a dirt floor. On the chair, Menesch, aged 40, sat while nursing her three-month old daughter, her eighth child. The baby, like all of her children, had been delivered at home with no trained labor assistant.

Next, on one of the beds laid Menesch’s older daughter…”

Read the full post over at BabyCenter’s Mission Motherhood™!

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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ethiopië 039This time next week, I’ll be in Ethiopia with my daughter. My Ethiopian daughter. She is six years old, and four of those have been with us. Four years which have been wonderful and rough all at the same time.

Before she was with us, we already spoke about returning to her birth country. Later. When she would be a teenager, in search of her identity. It would be a roots trip for her.

It turns out that six-year-old adoptees have glaring roots questions too. One day, she came up to us, plumped down on the couch and sighed dramatically.

I don’t know who I am!

I explained to her that she is the daughter of two mommies. One in Belgium, one in Ethiopia. She loves to hear that.

But not this time.

No, I mean…how do I know where I fit in the whole wide world?

I honestly told her that’s a difficult question. I don’t even know how to answer that one for myself.

She was devastated and sighed with even more drama. She’s good at that.

If it’s difficult for you, how am I supposed to find the answer then? You know where you come from. How am I supposed to know where I’m going if I don’t know where I come from?!

These kind of conversations led us to decide to take a roots trip with her now, instead of waiting for her to reach puberty. Moreover, we’ll keep on returning every few years, to keep her in touch with her roots. We know from fellow travelers that Ethiopia is addictive anyway.

Ever since we booked the trip, she has found a kind of peace. Returning to her country really means a lot to this little girl.

Of course, returning won’t all be magical, as she imagines it. No doubt, she will experience a culture shock, just like we did the first time we visited.

We try to prepare her for the poverty she will witness. The poverty she and her family were in, as she knows. It will be hard for her.

But Ethiopia is far more than poverty. To me, it’s the most beautiful and safe African country, with the kindest of people and of course, the best coffee. We’ll visit wild life centres, hike in the mountains and have injerra, the traditional dish, as our Christmas dinner.

I can’t wait to discover Ethiopia again through my daughter’s eyes.

How do you deal with identity questions from your little and big ones? Do they know struggles as well?


This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K @ The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.


If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights News You May Have Missed

SOCIAL GOOD: Human Rights News You May Have Missed

World Moms care about human rights, whether at home or around the world.   Here is a roundup of some of the recent human rights news items that we think deserve some more attention.


There has been some good news recently about efforts to raise the age of marriage and eliminate child marriage.

Nabina, age 15. Her story is one of three child brides told in Camfed's film The Child Within.

Nabina, age 15. Her story is one of three Malawian child brides told in Camfed’s film       The Child Within.

MALAWI’s National Assembly has unanimously passed a bill that raises the minimum age for consent to marriage from 16 (or 15 with parental consent) to 18 years of age.  While this will end legal child marriage in the country with one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, more work will need to be done to sure that the law is implemented.

And INDONESIA’s government is preparing a bill to raise the legal age of marriage for girls to 18 years of age.  While the legal age of marriage for females is currently 16, marriage at a younger age is legal with parental consent and judicial approval. According to data from the Health Ministry in 2010, 41.9 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 were married.  (P.S. The minimum age for boys to marry is 19.)


A gathering to promote the rights of girls and education for all in Barrod village of Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Photo: UN Women/Gaganjit Singh Chandok

A gathering to promote the rights of girls and education for all in Barrod village of Rajasthan’s Alwar district. Photo: UN Women/Gaganjit Singh Chandok

A new UNITED Nations human rights report analyzing the problem of attacks against girls trying to access education found that schools in at least 70 different countries were attacked in between 2009 and 2014, with many attacks specifically targeting girls, parents and teachers advocating for gender equality in education.

 “The educational rights of girls and women are often targeted due to the fact that they represent a challenge to existing gender and age-based systems of oppression.”

Reggae band SOJA partnered with UNICEF’s Out-of-School Children initiative to produce the video “Shadow” to draw attention to the importance of education for all of the world’s children.  Globally, an estimated 58 million children of primary school age and 63 million young adolescents are not enrolled in school.  Like the girl in this video, many of them are girls. Yet data demonstrates that reaching the most marginalized children may initially cost more but also yields greater benefits.  This video was filmed in Jigjiga, in the Somali region of Ethiopia, where 3 million children remain out of school. For more on global trends regarding out-of-school children, visit the UNICEF website.   


In January, A women-only minibus service was  launched in NEPAL’s capital Kathmandu to reduce sexual harassment on crowded routes. According to a 2013 World Bank survey, approximately a quarter of young women in Nepal report having been subjected to sexual harassment on public transport.

Turkish men aren’t known for wearing skirts. But in February, they began turning out in large numbers in Istanbul to protest about violence against women in TURKEY.

Men in mini skirts campaign
Men in mini skirts campaign

They’re joining others outraged by the murder of 20-year-old Ozgecan Aslan who was abducted on 11 February and killed for apparently trying to prevent a bus driver from raping her.


IN TANZANIA, some 800 school girls returned home on January 12 after escaping female genital mutilation (FGM) by spending three months hiding in safe houses.  FGM is traditionally carried out on girls between October and December. Run by charities and church organisations, the shelters offer protection (including police protection at some) to ensure the girls remain safe.

FGM was outlawed in Tanzania in 1998 and carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison, but is still regularly carried out, especially in northern and central regions of Tanzania.

Female genital mutilation (FGM) comprises all procedures that involve altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons.  It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes and is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The UN estimates that more than 40 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM.  If current trends continue, more than 15 million girls will be cut by 2020; more than 86 million additional girls worldwide will be subjected to the practice by 2030. The UN states that, although this harmful traditional practice has persisted for over a thousand years, programmatic evidence suggests that FGM can end in one generation.


This year, the UN has decided to place a special focus on the role of health care workers in FGM.  Although the practice of FGM cannot be justified by medical reasons, in many countries it is executed more and more often by medical professionals. This constitutes one of the greatest threats to the abandonment of the practice. 

(c)TARA TODRASS-WHITEHILL / REUTERS / LANDOV image retrieved from Aljazeera America

(c)TARA TODRASS-WHITEHILL / REUTERS / LANDOV image retrieved from Aljazeera America

For the first time ever, a court in EGYPT has sentenced a doctor to prison for the female genital mutilation (FGM) of a 13-year-old girl that resulted in her death.  Soheir al-Batea died in June 2013 after undergoing an FGM procedure carried out by Dr. Raslan Fadl.  A court in Mansour handed down not guilty verdicts for the doctor as well as the girl’s father for ordering the procedure in November 2014.  But Egypt’s Justice Ministry reportedly contacted the court to say it was “displeased with the judgment”, resulting in a retrial.  Fadl was sentenced at retrial to the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment; the father was sentence to three months’ house arrest. A ban on FGM has been in place since 2007 in Egypt,  yet this is the first time the law has been implemented. 

While FGM is most prevalent in Africa and the Middle East, it is also practiced in Asia, Latin America, Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.  This week, a new report from the Population Reference Bureau came out discussing the potential risk of girls and women in the UNITED STATES for undergoing FGM.  In 2013, there were up to 507,000 U.S. women and girls who had undergone FGM or were at risk of the procedure, according to PRB’s preliminary data analysis. This figure is more than twice the number of women and girls estimated to be at risk in 2000 (228,000).


And in the UNITED KINGDOM, the trial of a British doctor accused of performing female genital mutilation recently began in the United Kingdom’s first prosecution of an outlawed practice.  Dr. Dhanuson Dharmasena allegedly performed FGM in November 2012 on a 24-year-old woman soon after she gave birth to her first child at North London’s Whittington Hospital. The woman in the U.K. case, referred to as “AB” in court, reportedly underwent FGM as a 6-year-old in Somalia, when a section of her labia was sewn together, leaving only a small hole for menstrual blood and urine but too small for safely giving birth.  Defibulation, or re-opening the vagina, is commonly needed for FGM survivors about to give birth, and was required in AB’s case during delivery. But AB allegedly underwent re-infibulation, or sewing the labia together again after giving birth. The stitching or re-stitching together of the labia is an offense under section 1 of the United Kingdom’s Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.


I’ll end with several beautiful, inspirational videos.  The first is an advertisement from SOUTH AFRICA for the telecom company MTN. It is a reminder that no dreams are too big for a child.

The second is from a campaign that came out last June, but which recently received national and international attention.

Some brilliant teenagers in the UNITED STATES inspire with their spoken word poem Somewhere In America. 

 This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Human Rights Warrior Jennifer Prestholdt.

Did we miss any other recent Human Rights stories you know of? If so, lease let us know!

Jennifer Prestholdt (USA)

Jennifer Prestholdt is a lawyer and the Deputy Director of The Advocates for Human Rights, a volunteer-based human rights organization that works locally, nationally and internationally. Her work in human rights takes her around the world, but she spends most of her time in Minneapolis, MN, where she lives with her children (two sons and one daughter), her husband, an elderly cat and a dwarf hamster.

As Jennifer’s kids are now all in school (1st, 4th and 6th grades), she is finally finding more time to do the things that she used to love to do, especially running, writing and knitting. Jennifer loves to travel and has had the dubious distinction of having been accidentally locked in a bathroom on five continents so far. Australia and Antarctica await!

In January 2011, Jennifer made a New Year’s Resolution to start writing about her experiences in order to share with her children the lessons learned from 15 years of work in human rights. The result is her personal blog, The Human Rights Warrior. The name comes from her son Simon, who was extremely disappointed to learn that his mother is a lawyer, not a warrior.

You can find her on her blog The Human Rights Warrior or on Twitter @Jprestholdt.

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SOCIAL GOOD: AHOPE for Children Gives Hope to Ethiopia’s HIV Positive Children

SOCIAL GOOD: AHOPE for Children Gives Hope to Ethiopia’s HIV Positive Children


SAMSUNG CSCIt was a late afternoon in June when Elizabeth Atalay and I, both fellows in Ethiopia with the International Reporting Project, arrived at the nondescript gates of AHOPE for Children on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. The clouds had yet to open up and lash out in their daily angry downpour. But we knew it was coming soon for it was rainy season in Ethiopia.

I had anticipated this meeting for a long time and was a bit nervous about the world I’d see behind those gates. I had heard about AHOPE for Children after reading the powerful true story of Haregewoin Teferra, a middle class Ethiopia woman who dared to help the growing number of abandoned and orphaned children at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in her country. Award-wining journalist Melissa Fay Greene’s book, “There is No Me Without You” opened my eyes and my heart to the difficult lives of orphaned HIV-positive children and now Elizabeth and I were going to meet some of them.

The impact of HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia is nothing short of heartbreaking. It were statistics like these below that inspired Greene to research the plight of HIV/AIDS orphans in Ethiopia and let the tragedy be known.

Per the United Nations, in 2000 Africa was “a continent of orphans.”  HIV and acquired AIDS had killed more than 21 million people, including 4 million children. More than 13 million children had been orphaned, 12 million of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.  25% of those lived in 2 countries: Nigeria and Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, 11% of the children were orphans.

Reading the heart-wrentching stories of the children in Greene’s book left me feeling awfully sad. Yet towards the end of her book, in 2005, the  plight of adults and children impacted by HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia and the rest of the developing world changed. Antri-retrovirals (ARVs) which had been widely available in the Western, wealthiest world, had now become available in poorer countries like Ethiopia. The meaning of being HIV positive changed from being a death sentence to a hope to live.

AHOPE Ethiopia

Mengesha, the Director of AHOPE Ethiopia with some of the children.

AHOPE for Children was founded over ten years ago by American Kathy Olsen as an American non-profit charity to assist in the funding of a home for HIV positive children in Ethiopia. AHOPE stands for “African HIV Orphans: Project Embrace” and is the only orphanage in Ethiopia that solely cares for HIV positive children.  AHOPE for Children and AHOPE Ethiopia are two separate organizations (AHOPE is based in the US and AHOPE Ethiopia is an Ethiopian non-profit organization) working together to help children with HIV/AIDS.  The role of AHOPE for Children is to raise money to support AHOPE Ethiopia; AHOPE Ethiopia is the day to day caring and programs for all of the kids.

AHOPE Ethiopia runs children’s homes, Little AHOPE for younger children, Family Group Homes for older kids, Youth Transition Homes for young adults, and community outreach programs for children impacted by HIV/AIDS. The sole mission of AHOPE is to provide these children with a loving, supportive “family” and prepare them for an independent future while also providing care for HIV.

 Mengesha, AHOPE Ethiopia's Director smiles for the camera.

Mengesha, AHOPE Ethiopia’s Director smiles for the camera.


Elizabeth and I met with Mengesha, the Director of AHOPE Ethiopia, at the Little AHOPE compound which is home to 27 children. Currently there are 95 children in AHOPE Ethiopia homes and over 100 children receiving support through AHOPE’s community outreach program.

We entered Little AHOPE to the sounds of children playing outside and were met by several smiles and giggles perhaps a reaction to our blond hair and light skin. At first glance, these children didn’t seem any different than our own. They were playing, singing, jumping and vying for our attention. Yet each one of these children were different as they are all HIV positive, fighting other related illnesses and orphaned.

Our first hour at AHOPE was spent speaking with Mengesha, who has worked at AHOPE for several years and has recently become AHOPE Ethiopia’s Director. Mengesha is a warm, loving man who is passionate about AHOPE and the children. Most of the children at AHOPE are either single or double orphans who have tragically watched one or more parent die from AIDS and has been abandoned with no family member willing or able to care for them. These children have the extra burden of being HIV positive meaning they have many special needs.

AHOPE has a loving, fully trained staff of nurses, pediatricians, care-givers and social workers who ensure each child gets the individual attention, love and care they need. AHOPE aims to provide the children with a sense of belonging to a family and as the children grow, they transition to Family Group Homes. The Family Group Homes are community-based homes run by a “mother” and “auntie” where the kids are integrated into the community. The children attend school, receive their necessary medications, go on field trips and do almost everything else a healthy child would do. Once a child becomes an adult, they move to a Youth Transition Home that prepares 18-24 year olds with independent living.

After Mengesha concluded his overview on AHOPE, it was time for a tour of the home and to meet the children. At first the children were a little bit shy around us however their shyness quickly disappeared as soon as Elizabeth took out her Polaroid camera. The children loved having their photos taken and printed out for them to keep, right before their eyes! Elizabeth was very busy as a queue had formed of excited kids wanting their turn behind the camera.

Meanwhile I got to talk with some of the children and learn about their hopes and dreams. Many of the children had high hopes for their future and all of them wanted to make something out of their life. One teenager said she dreamed of becoming a doctor and helping care for kids like her. HIV positive. Another young boy dreamed of being a teacher. Thankfully, with AHOPE these children all have a hope for the future and an opportunity to be who they want to be.

Some facts on HIV/AIDS and Ethiopia:

▪ An estimated 33.3 million people worldwide are infected with HIV/AIDS.

▪ In 2009, 1.8 million people died due to HIV/AIDS, and another 2.6 mil-lion were newly infected.

▪ More than 68 percent (approximately 22.5 million people) of those infected are in sub-Saharan Africa.

▪ Worldwide, 2.5 million children under 15 are living with HIV/AIDS, and 370,000 were newly infected in 2009.

These are just some of the staggering statistics on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Estimates indicate that in 2009 in Ethiopia approximately 1.1 million people were living with HIV, with a prevalence rate of about 2.3 percent.

Children in Ethiopia are also profoundly affected by HIV/AIDS. In 2009, nearly 73,000 children under age 15 were living with HIV.

Source: AHOPE for Children

Interested in learning more? Here are some excellent resources:

AHOPE for Children’s website

▪ “There is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue her Country’s Children” by Melissa Fay Greene (This book not only tells the true story of Haregewoin Teferra, it also documents some of the believed scientific origins of AIDS, the development and distribution of ARVs, and the plight of AIDS orphans in Ethiopia. It is an excellent book).

▪ A fascinating documentary that can be watched for free over the internet: “And the Band Played On” again documents the discovery of AIDS, the appallingly delayed reaction to do anything, the development of ARVs and the spread of AIDS throughout the world to become one of the worst epidemics Africa has ever seen.


Author Nicole Melancon was in Ethiopia in June as a reporting fellow with the International Reporting Project.


Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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