WORLD VOICE: #Airlift2014 to Nicaragua with @AmeriCares: Part I

WORLD VOICE: #Airlift2014 to Nicaragua with @AmeriCares: Part I

Airlift Benefit Table Shot

What would it be like to see the impact that our donations make in places around the world that need it most? And what would it be like to be able to do that with your partner?  I don’t travel as much as I would love to because although longer-term trips can be amazing, I find it difficult to leave my kids for more than a few days at a time. I’ve given that a whirl before. But recently, a really unique opportunity called the “AmeriCares Airlift 2014” presented itself. The event took my husband and I to Nicaragua for a 24 hour social good trip. Yep, only 24 hours! The experience was all due to the generosity of my husband’s employer, Cognizant, who has financially supported the global health work of AmeriCares for years.

The event began at Westchester Airport in New York on September 20th. I checked in wearing heels and went through a security check for the plane that was donated to the event by Sun Country airlines. By the way, did I mention, we were also celebrating our wedding anniversary on the trip? 

One hundred of the 850 gala guests would be boarding the plane at the end of the night to Nicaragua, and those 100 were given flashing bracelets at check-in.

The casual airport hangar had been magically turned into a fancy gala. We sat with the Cognizant table, where I got to meet some of my husband’s coworkers, who were excited to tell us about AmeriCares Airlifts of years past and what to expect. We were excited, and yet, nervous, too! 

The event included Nicaraguan music, and afterwards we set our attention on this very video about AmeriCares relief efforts in the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan. Emotions were flying. It was engagement with people like Jen in the video below that led to the Airlift Benefit raising over $2 million dollars for everyday global health issues and relief efforts!:


Jen’s story was heartfelt and amazing, and she was even in attendance at the event from the Philippines!  Authors, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, spoke next at the event about their latest book, “A Path Appears.” They noted that the same part of the brain that enjoys sex and chocolate is the same part of the brain that makes us want to give. So interesting, right? I was excited to hear from the duo because I had read and cherished “Half the Sky”, the book about human trafficking that they coauthored, which helped further motivate my activism for women and children worldwide.

Americares Airlift Benefit Gala

In fact, just this past week, I got to meet Nicholas Kristof at the AYA Summit in Washington, DC. I explained that I had heard him speak last month at #Airlift2014, and he was genuinely excited to hear how the 24 hour trip to Nicaragua was. Kristof said he always wondered what that trip would be like. I told him that he should join them on the flight next time!! Could you imagine being on a social good trip with Nick Kristof??? My fingers would be crossed to be in his group, so I could hear his questions to the people we met along the way!

We also heard from long-time AmeriCares supporter and actor, Tony Goldwyn, who plays the President on Scandal. Tony became the first celebrity spokesperson for Americares. And Erica Hill of NBC MCd the event. Time flew by before they announced that it was time to board the flight.  Steve and I quickly headed to the makeshift airport hangar changing rooms to change into clothes for the flight. It was go-time!

We were divided into 4 color-coded groups. my husband and I were in the blue group.  Our group indicated what bus we were to ride once in Nicaragua and what places we’d be visiting. Each bus visited 3 health facilities.  Because there were 4 buses, we all didn’t visit the same ones.  The flight went quick because I knew we wouldn’t be getting very much sleep, so I tried to keep my eyes closed the entire time. If I wasn’t sleeping, I’d at least be relaxing to be able to take in the importance of the site visits.  Once we arrived in the middle of the night in Managua, our bus took us to our hotel, where we were able to get 4-5 hours more sleep.

Early in the morning, we met the entire group for breakfast in a hotel conference room and were briefed on Nicaragua.  The statistic that is still singed into my heart is that “2 out of 3 pregnancies are unwanted” in the country. It is even difficult to write. I thought it was a typo. But, as the day went on, I’d learn that it was true…

Stay posted to for Part II of Jennifer Burden’s adventure to Nicaragua with AmeriCares and #Airlift 2014 on behalf of Cognizant.

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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Social Good: Half The Sky, The Game

Social Good: Half The Sky, The Game

Sometimes I want my mom to read the things I write. Other times I don’t. This would be one of those times.

Half the Sky gameIn 2009, I connected with friends, old classmates, and work colleagues through Facebook. Long before worries about privacy settings, the idea of over-sharing  and all of the fun (and annoying) things that come with a Facebook profile, I enjoyed posting and sharing. At that time, there was no way to filter what you saw in your news feed  and honestly, I don’t remember feeling like I needed to “hide,” or “block” a type of post. After all, these were people I chose to be friends with.

Right around the time my son was born, my mom joined Facebook. Living 1 ½ hours away seemed like a lifetime to us both, so Facebook became a wonderful way to share photos of my newborn son and entertain myself during those first months when I was scared to venture out of the house alone with a baby. One day while scanning the status updates of my friends, I noticed that I had a lot of notifications, mostly from my mom for something called “Farmville.” Having never heard of Farmville, I clicked and joined, only to realize that what I was signing up for was management of a “working” farm, complete with sheep baaing in the background.

Farmville came, then Bejeweled, Scrabble, and then Words with Friends, and finally Song Pop. I was completely overwhelmed with all of the notifications I was receiving so I did what most people do; I hid them. To me, they were time suckers, distractions when I already had too much on my mind. But for my mom and other people, they were a fun break from reality, a quick opportunity to interact with others and then step away. While I received little enjoyment from these online games, there is an entire, massive community of people who do. Now what if you paired addicting online games with social good? (more…)


Jacki, or “MommaExpat,” as she’s known in the Internet community, is a former family therapist turned stay-at-home mom in Paris, France. Jacki is passionate about issues as they relate to mothers and children on both domestic and international scenes, and is a Volunteer Ambassador for the Fistula Foundation. In addition to training for her first half marathon, Jacki can be found learning French in Paris and researching her next big trip. Jacki blogs at H J Underway, a chronicle of her daily life as a non-French speaking mom in France.

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Social Good: A Mother’s Issue

Photo Credit: The Fistula foundation

“One Woman at a time.  That is how we fight fistula. By restoring health and dignity to one. One woman with the will to survive. She is still waiting.” -The Fistula Foundation

Take time to learn one woman’s story

Once we have given birth to our first child we join a sisterhood of mothers.  We can relate to each other in a way that only someone who has experienced the bodily changes of pregnancy and birth can. As beautiful and miraculous of a process pregnancy can be, our bodies have transformed in ways that introduce humility as only gestation can.

As mothers we seem to be able to speak about personal things we would never speak of to anyone else. Breastfeeding, leaking milk, hernias, incontinence, episiotomy, my fellow mothers, we have all been there in some way.  We understand. Personally, I shared my experiences with other mothers along the way through my four pregnancies and births, and one miscarriage in between.

Obstetric Fistula is not a pleasant topic, and not one that we as mothers talk to each other about, but it is a mother’s topic, and because as mothers we are sisters, we need to talk about it.   (more…)

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,, 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,, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on, Johnson & Johnson’s,,, and 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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Saturday Sidebar: What book is on your nightstand?

This week World Moms Blog writer Kyla P’an wants to know…

“What book is on your night stand and would you recommend it to other World Moms?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Asha of Nigeria writes:
“There are two books on my night stand.  “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, which I’m reading to my oldest child.  Also “Half of a Yellow Sun” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I just finished. It’s about the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War. It was excellent and really informative about a period of Nigerian history I knew nothing about.” (more…)

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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