How great (or not so great) is your country to raise a child?

Photo credit to Save the Children.

Introduction to the Global Childhood Report 2020

How does your country rank when it comes to the lives of children? As World Moms, our hearts are with children, and we’ve been buzzing about Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report 2020 this summer in our contributors’ group and even on video calls. We’ve come to the conclusion that this year’s report is more important than most, and we’d love to pull our readers into the conversation! 

The Global Childhood Report measures the effects of ill-health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy, conflict and extreme violence on children. Its goal is to reveal where on the planet a child has a better chance at a healthy and happy childhood and where resources need to be focused to provide a better life for kids.  

The Convention on the Rights of the Child identifies the ideal childhood as “healthy children in school and at play, growing strong and confident with the love and encouragement of their family and an extended community of caring adults, gradually taking on the responsibilities of adulthood, free from fear, safe from violence, protected from abuse and exploitation.” 

Singapore has held the top spot since 2018, the year in which Save the Children began using national estimates instead of relying only on UN data. (According to the nonprofit, the change in data source made the rankings more accurate.) But what does holding the top spot mean? 

With possible points from 1-1,000, with 1,000 being the best possible scenario for children, the country scores measure the extent at which children living in their respective nations experience childhood enders, or situations which cause death or cause a child to have to enter adult roles too soon. Out of 180 countries this year the actual scores ranged from Singapore with the highest score of 989, where kids are more likely to experience an ideal childhood, to Niger with the lowest score of 375, where children are most likely to experience an early death or difficult living situations.

Joining Singapore at the top of the list, 8 out of the top 10 ranked countries were western European, and all 10 at the very bottom of the list were from sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizing an undeniable geographic and economic difference in the welfare of children. The good news is that globally 121 countries improved the well-being of children in their countries this year, while only 19 countries declined. 

Singapore #1

Hailing from Singapore, World Mom, Karen Grosse, recently joined us via video call, where we were able to get her reaction to her country’s top ranking. “Wow, Singapore’s #1! I had a quick read through of the factors, and I’d agree that our kids are very protected.”, she stated. 

What we learned from Karen was that only the first 6 years of primary education are mandatory in Singapore, and the government subsidizes education, which works out to be only $13 Singapore per month, or about $9.50 USD per month. She explained that the subsidies continue for secondary schooling with fees around $25 – $43 Singapore ($18 -$32 USD) per month for most schools and that the low school fees encourage most children to continue their education past the mandatory 6 years.

In addition, Singapore’s cultural emphasis on the importance of education also keeps kids in school, which attributes towards the country’s very low rates of adolescent marriages and teen births. 

Yet another contributing factor toward Singapore’s top ranking is mandatory vaccinations from birth against life threatening diseases such as TB, diphtheria, hepatitis, measles, rubella, and more. At school children receive free annual health checks, eye tests, and even dental visits. In fact, when we spoke, Karen, a teacher, explained that her students had just had their health checks and immunizations earlier in the morning by a health team which comes to the school to conduct the healthcare! Singapore also has a universal healthcare system, and all of the countries in the top 10 either have universal healthcare or some type of healthcare safety net for those who don’t have health insurance to ensure that everyone’s covered. 

As for gun violence, Karen described that guns are not legal in the country, and gun deaths are not existent to rare. In fact, the penalties for having a gun are quite severe in Singapore and can include imprisonment and caning according to

USA #43

As for my own country, the U.S. dropped 7 places in the childhood index this year to number forty-three. For the previous 3 years, the US had been ranked at 36, still noticeably low for a wealthy nation. Here, one in five children continue to live below the poverty line, gun violence continues to be an issue, as well as, systematic racism.

Although the current administration has tried to expire healthcare and food programs that are already in place and support the well-being of children, these efforts have been blocked by Congress, and the programs remain. It is important that the U.S. keeps programs such as SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act intact for those who need them most, as they also affect the welfare of the nation’s children. 

Vaccinations are mandatory for children entering school, unless there is a state exemption, which in some states is loosely used. This has caused vaccination rates to become lower in places in the country in more recent years and increases the chances of an outbreak of a possibly fatal childhood disease. Children who have healthcare receive their vaccinations from their doctors, and the federal and local governments have programs to ensure that children who need vaccinations can easily receive them without charge.

Children’s education in the U.S. is paid for in our local real estate taxes, and in many places in the country this includes those big yellow school buses to school seen in the movies! In 2017 the most recent year for published data, the teenage pregnancy rate was on a decline dropping below 18 births per 1000 girls. The high school graduation rate in the U.S. is on a uptick at 85%, with statistics being higher for White and Asian children, and below the average for Black, Hispanic, and Native American children.   

Currently even though the U.S. has only 4.25% of the world’s population, it has 24.75% of the world’s COVID cases as of Aug. 19, 2020, so the pandemic most likely will have an unequal negative impact on the U.S.’s Global Child Report ranking next year compared to other wealthy nations who were less exposed to the virus. Only time will tell. 

Canada #28, Italy #8, South Africa #119, and India #115

Next, let’s hear how some of the World Moms reacted to their own country’s listing in the Global Childhood Report.  

“Canada is 28th. Nowhere near where we should be given the wealth of the country and its focus on human rights.” – World Mom, Kirsten Doyle in Canada

“Although I have lived in South Africa since I was 8 years old (and both my children were born here) I still feel that I am Italian. I’m, therefore, proud to see that Italy is ranked 8th out of 180 countries and scored a very respectable 982/1,000 (the top score was 989/1,000). The Italian government keeps putting measures in place to assist families with children, because the birth rate is still relatively low, and they actually want to encourage more people to have children. Each child is considered precious – sometimes too much so (in the sense that I find many of them to be rather spoilt).

Unfortunately, South Africa, where I live now, doesn’t fare as well. SA is ranked 119th out of 180 with a score of 775/1,000 (the bottom score is 375/1,000). We have a dreadful, systemic issue with violence against women and children in this country. There is also a lack of adequate schools. A situation that is aggravated by “protests” that destroy the very schools that are so direly needed. All of this has been aggravated by the COVID-19 Lockdown. Currently 51% of families are not “food secure”.

They were living “paycheck to paycheck” and for far too many people the paychecks stopped in March! Unfortunately, millions of people have lost their livelihoods completely and are relying on charity to put food on the table. Sadly, the situation for far too many children in SA is only going to get worse. The South African government has failed its people.”  — World Mom, Simona Rinfreschi in South Africa

“India ranks #115. Earlier India had made a lot of progress in making childhood a safe and joyous phase for children. But with the ensuing COVID pandemic, whatever progress was made in child rights, child mortality, neo natal care, maternal care, schooling, etc., is now reversed. This is very unfortunate. 

Some specific things which I can see from staying at home during the pandemic are that mid day meals which were offered in school are no more available. That was the only reason some children went to the school, so not only are they not coming to school to eat, but they are also not being educated. Not all schools or children have the ability/privilege to study from home. Children below the poverty line are unable to buy gadgets to study from home and access online classes. 

Some schools also do not have this ability. Schools being shut also means there are no safe space for kids to escape domestic violence and child protection services are non-functional or semi-functional during the pandemic and with this huge population, not all can avail all services. I just wish, the schools find a safe and reasonable way to reopen, with medical precaution and education for social distancing, as schools are a haven for children in India. Food, education, escape! 

Also, because of COVID services of Anganwadis workers are unavailable. So essentially newborn and mothers have nowhere to go for their basic facilities. And it would not take just the 5 or 10 years to redo all this progress. It might need a whole new mindset to rise up! We have gone back at least a decade in the last 6 months!” – World Mom, Purnima Ramakrishnan of India


The feedback from the World Moms is quite worrying for children because the most recent data used by the 2020 Global Childhood Report is from 2019, which was prior to the impact on children from the COVID-19 pandemic. World Mom and RESULTS member, Yolanda Gordon in the USA stated, “After talking with some folks in the know and looking over some information, even the numbers that will come out with the US Census numbers this year will be based on the numbers from last year. We may see an improvement in the reports for this year, but the following year’s reported data will look different.” So, we may not see the full effects of the pandemic until 2 years out when 2020 data is fully reported. 

In conclusion, not only is it important that Save the Children compiles this information to see where childhood is stronger and weaker on an annual basis, this year’s report becomes an important baseline to measure the impact that the global COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world’s children this year and the years to come as the data comes in year after year. Then, we will be more easily able to identify the countries and areas on the globe where children were most affected by the pandemic and target programs in those places to help secure a better childhood for the world’s children. 

So where does your country rank?  View Save the Children’s Global Childhood Report.

Read World Moms Network’s post from last year on the 2019 Global Childhood Report.

Jennifer Burden is the founder of World Moms Network from New Jersey, USA. She also sponsors a child through Save the Children.

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 Voice: Where Humans Dare @Global_TigerDay #globaltigerday

World Voice: Where Humans Dare @Global_TigerDay #globaltigerday

Not every animal has a day devoted to it. But, the biggest of the cat species, the tiger, is exceptional and it is celebrated today (July 29). The International Tiger Day was launched in 2010 to create awareness about this magnificent creature, as it was on the brink of extinction.



Many factors have contributed to the decline in the numbers of this striped animal – climate change, loss of habitat and heavy poaching. Therefore, many organizations interested in wildlife came together to raise awareness about it.

It is not only the organizations but it is also the responsibility of every human being to understand the role played by the tiger in maintaining an ecological balance.  Here is a personal narrative about sighting the big cat in all its splendor in a reserve forest.

Pristine waterfalls, a rich carpet of grass, trees laden with flowers, butterflies flitting in and out of bushes and trees and squirrels scampering away with a fistful of nuts have captivated the young and the old alike.

These are gifts from God. We love to see them, love to bask in their glory and would feel blessed to be part of them forever.

Nature has never considered itself as just a gift to us. It has blended with us and played its part very well. It has given us food, water, and warmth in abundance and helped us to flourish.

In India, the great Himalayan ranges, Western Ghats, and the Eastern Ghats are home to several beautiful creations of God _ animals, birds and rare plants. In fact, wildlife is an inseparable part of its natural treasure.

From various studies and surveys, we understand that we have not been respecting these gifts from God. Many do not even realize that we have lost much due to callousness.

Therefore, over a period of time, many species of flora and fauna have started disappearing from this world. Don’t you think it is high time we did something about it?

As a wake-up call and in order to save some of the endangered species, the Indian government has taken a number of measures on its own and in association with several organizations to preserve wildlife and plant species in the country.

As these values have to be instilled among children, our family decided to go on a nature camp to a tiger reserve in Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu.

While my husband and I wanted to have some quiet moments amidst greenery and enjoy mother nature, the children (10-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter) were excited about visiting the Kalakad Mudanthurai Tiger Reserve. It was a welcome change for them, as they had spent the last six months shuttling between home and school.

We reached Tirunelveli by train on a Saturday morning and rented a car to the tiger reserve. As the vehicle neared the western ghats, the kids were excited as the ride through the lush green forests was a surreal pampered experience for them.

The guide who accompanied us informed that it is the second largest protected area in the state and Kalakkad has also been declared as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

This information triggered my son’s curiosity. He did not understand why animals and plants needed protection. Seizing the opportunity, I explained to him about how we are influenced by nature and the crucial role played by it in our lives.

“Plants give us food, shelter, clothing, relaxation and many more. Right from a unicellular organism to the multicellular carnivores and herbivores, all play a part in sustaining life on Earth. They help to maintain the food chain and play an important role in maintaining the ecosystem,” I explained.

“Just like how we maintain our home, school and our immediate environs there is a dire need to conserve nature too. It has given us so much for our sustenance and as more and more resources are used by man, there has arisen a need to conserve whatever is left.”

To this explanation, my son with a puzzled look asked me: Mama are these not given to us by God. Will he not take care of it? I said that since nature is a gift from God and just like any other gift we need to preserve it too. “It has given us so much. Don’t you think we should give something back to it?”

As my son nodded in agreement, the guide told him that the place of visit was a jungle where tigers were protected in their natural habitat. The little one’s eyes fell out and he could not believe that a giant of an animal like the tiger needed protection.

My husband stepped in to offer an explanation: Yes, the magnificent tiger was slowly becoming extinct as it was being hunted for its skin and claws. Therefore the Government of India in order to promote awareness about wildlife initiated programmes like Project Tiger to save it from extinction. Thanks, to the timely intervention,  the step did help and the number of big cats has increased in India.

“You are here to learn more about it,” he said as he lifted my daughter to show some deer feeding on the grass in the shade of some trees in the forest.

Though a tiger reserve, it was also noted for chital, sambar and lion-tailed macaques. The children clapped their hands in glee as they sighted some of the animals en route.

The rugged topography of Kalakad was dotted with dense rainforests, perennial streams, and falls. As the vehicle negotiated a hairpin bend we sighted the Agasthiar falls located amidst picturesque surroundings.

The children wanted to go near it. But we were told that we had to trek a few meters to reach the falls and it was almost 4.30 pm. The guide told us that we could not stay there beyond 6 pm as we would interfere with free animal movement in the forest.

As the children were hell-bent on seeing the falls, my husband relented and we climbed the slope. But one thing is for sure, the excitement and sheer pleasure of experiencing a jungle is an unparalleled one.

Though it was a tourist spot, there was not a single soul as it was late in the evening. As the flow of water in the falls was gentle, the children had a good time jumping and frolicking in the pristine waters. With passing away of nearly an hour, I pulled them away and took them near a bush to change their wet clothes. As I was just changing mine, darkness had begun to fall and my son took the powerful torch and tried to scourge the mountainside.

All of a sudden, my daughter pointed out to a speck of light which kept moving. When we enquired with the guide, he got worried and said, “I don’t think forest personnel would be there at this time of the hour.”

Meanwhile, my husband who was having a great time standing in the waters gestured me to come near him. As I was about to move towards him, I noticed that a light was not far off. As I lifted my daughter to move towards the falls, all three of us observed that it was not a speck of light but a pair. It suddenly began to move towards us rapidly.

It was then, it struck the guide that my son was constantly shining the torch towards the source of light.

“Oh god, madam, it is a tiger moving towards us, as it has been irritated by the torchlight.”

Panic-stricken we ran to the falls which was just a few yards away and pulled my husband who was basking in the waters.

We had not noticed the time slipping away and it was 6.30 pm. As I turned behind I could clearly see the two specs of light moving rapidly towards the falls.

Picking up our belongings we ran for life and almost skid down the slope towards the vehicle. It was the most frightening experience of my life. As soon as the jeep’s engine roared into life, we turned behind to see the falls for one last time. What we saw made the hair on our hand stand up.

With starlight bouncing of its glossy fur and emerald fiery eyes, a majestic tiger stood near the tumbling falls. It stretched its body as though it was about to settle for a nap and its claws emerged like crescent moons. It looked at us lazily, and let out a roar that made jeep turn into the road at top speed.

After two blissful hours of animal spotting among the lush green of the forest, we retired for bed at the guest house still shivering at the thought of what would have happened to us even if we had delayed by a few minutes.

“I am sorry to have troubled you to take us near the falls at dusk. We should not have disturbed the animals in their natural habitat,” said my son as he nearly sobbed to sleep.

My husband who was more than angry after this experience vocalized that he could not forgive himself for having failed to take note of the time and leave the protected place a few minutes earlier.

After all, we share the earth with all species created by God. They too have a right to exist and enjoy in the place that suits them.

Please live and let live.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Lalithasai , a journalist par excellence, with an experience of over 25 years, has penned innumerable articles for the betterment of the society. For over two decades at The Hindu (India’s National Newspaper), she had written with sensitivity and understanding about marginalized women and children. She has also covered public education, communities, urban affairs and development in Tamil Nadu (India). She was actively involved in reporting extensively about the affected families in the fishing hamlets in India, when the tsunami struck in 2004.
She has interviewed senior editors and liased with major media organisations to understand the situations and plight of women. Lalithasai who has many feathers in hat, has had her humble beginnings in a middle class South Indian family, but has risen to be an inspiration and tall leader for her own sisters and mothers in the world.
she is a mother of two grown up children. Her son is an environmentalist and holds a position of repute in Henkel in Germany. Her daughter is a doctor,who is planning to pursue the subject in mental health.
To know more about LalithaSai, please visit -

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WORLD VOICE: Volunteer Abroad with Unearth the World #studyabroadbecause

WORLD VOICE: Volunteer Abroad with Unearth the World #studyabroadbecause

In 2013, Kathryn Pisco and her husband Mike left their corporate jobs and decided to take a trip of a lifetime in an attempt to unearth and discover the world. Over the next 250 days, the pair traveled to over 20 countries and volunteered at 5 different volunteer projects.

It was during their volunteer experiences that they learned the ins and outs of volunteering abroad. Although their time volunteering was meaningful, they were surprised to see how broken the system was.

A lot of projects charged tons of money for volunteers, were not exactly beneficial to the host community, and were not sustainable. The couple returned home and realized that they had to share their knowledge and experience of what they learned.

In 2014, they launched their social enterprise Unearth the World, an international volunteer organization that strives to improve the international volunteering industry by promoting cross-cultural learning, fostering reciprocal partnerships and elevating social consciousness through responsible international programs.

Today they work with 6 non-profit partners in Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, Guatemala and Zambia which they have personally visited to ensure that each volunteer experience benefits the local community and provides sustainable change. Since they founded Unearth the World, 200 people have already dedicated 3,500+ hours of service over the past two years in collaboration with their six international nonprofit partners. 

Teaching in Peru with Unearth the World

I first met Kathryn at the Women in Travel Summit in April and instantly connected. She is a mom like me and has a passion for sustainable travel and a zest for life. I knew I wanted to feature Unearth the World on my blog so I set up a phone interview to learn more. Here is a transcript of our conversation.

Me: What did you and your husband do for work in Chicago before setting off on your epic travel adventure? Had you ever traveled before? How did you pick your countries and volunteer projects?

Kathryn: Mike and I were both in sales for medical companies prior to traveling the world. While we had done quite a bit of personal travel in the past, it was more traditional tourism. We would maximize our allotted vacation time each year but that was the extent of our travel. Prior to our professional careers, I did a traditional study abroad program in Paris and Mike spent a summer living/volunteering in Nicaragua. Mike’s Nicaragua experience inspired us to volunteer on our epic adventure.

When choosing where to travel, we prioritized regions that were far away and – therefore – challenging to get to on a typical 7 – 10 day vacation. We also sought out countries that were relatively secure and affordable. Once we had outlined our 20-country itinerary we tried to spread our volunteer projects evenly throughout the trip. Our idea was to have a few weeks of personal travel and then a few weeks of volunteering. It ended up working out quite well!

We did a lot of research on where we should volunteer but found it really challenging to understand what organizations were legit based upon online research alone.

Me: Tell me a little bit more about the five different volunteer projects you did. What did you learn about the world of international volunteering?

Kathryn:  We taught English in Kathmandu, Nepal, worked at Children’s Homes in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Phnom Penh Cambodia, taught at a school in Ofaakor, Ghana and built homes in Mwandi, Zambia. Through these experiences we learned how important it is to ensure that you have the proper skills to engage in each project. I have adopted the belief that if you are not qualified to do something in your hometown – why would you be qualified to do it abroad?

We realized that so many of our projects were well-intentioned but not truly as helpful as they could have been. There was such a disconnect between the true needs of the community and the projects that were designed to appeal to volunteers. We heard horror stories about schools that were built and torn down each year with the sole purpose of attracting and making money off of international volunteers. We also experienced some great things! In Zambia for instance, the organization is 100% locally run and the entire community is engaged in the mission. Mike and I worked alongside local people and learned from them every step of the way. Finally, we saw how incredible cross-cultural exchange can be for both volunteers and local communities. We built authentic and lasting relationships at many of our projects and are still in touch with people from all around the world.

Me: How did traveling and in particular volunteering abroad change you?

Kathryn: In so many ways! I entered the trip thinking that – as a 30 year old woman – my values, personality and worldview were pretty set. On the trip I learned how to thrive outside of my comfort zone. I became a better communicator, leader, and person. I also realized that I have so much to learn from people of different cultures.

Me: Why did you decide to launch Unearth the World?

Kathryn: As I mentioned earlier, our five volunteer projects varied greatly in intentionality and impact and illustrated the pros and cons of volunteering abroad. We learned that there are many problems in the current multi-billion dollar volunteer travel space: a lack of financial transparency, an absence of meaningful volunteer training, and a shortage of community driven projects. So, we returned from our trip inspired to create our own social venture – Unearth the World – that strives to improve the volunteer travel industry by promoting cross-cultural learning, fostering reciprocal partnerships and elevating social consciousness through responsible volunteer exchange programs. We founded Unearth the World to make volunteer travel more transparent, accessible and positively impactful.

MeWhere did you come up with the name?

Kathryn: Unearth the World was actually the name of our travel blog during our nine month trip. We thought it really encompassed what we were trying to accomplish on our journey. We sought to unearth – or discover – the world around us in a meaningful way. We decided to give our business the same name because we believe that international service and cross-cultural exchange is a great way to understand the world around us.

Me: What makes you different from other volunteer organizations?

Kathryn: We saw that the industry lacked financial transparency and affordability with many projects costing several thousand dollars for just one week. We also saw a lack of community driven projects. Instead, we saw many volunteer opportunities that were created with the purpose of bringing in tourists rather than actually addressing a true need in the community. Additionally, we saw that many of the volunteer sending organizations fail to train and educate their travelers before and after their trip leading to uninformed and unqualified volunteers. These problems in the industry saddened us greatly. UTW’s innovative model addresses the problems in the volunteer travel market in three ways: transparency, reciprocity and volunteer preparation.

Me: What has been the most powerful experience you have experienced with Unearth the World?

Kathryn: That is a tough question. I am always impressed by the transformative effects of our programs.

I have seen the biggest impacts on people who have not had previous international experiences. For instance, we recently had a student from Cornell University join a group trip to Nicaragua. He had never been out of the country before. His experience volunteering in Nicaragua sparked something in him. He immediately booked a second trip – this time to Zambia – to continue to engage with the world. Upon returning to school, he is considering shifting his major to something more focused on social impact and he has begun to volunteer in his local community.

Another great story is from one of our Advisory Board members – Amy. She took her two daughters to Nicaragua as a way of exposing them to different cultures. A memorable moment from their program was when one of her daughters turned to her and said “Mommy, I want to do really well in school so I can continue to travel and learn about the world.”. Amy was so inspired that she joined our board.

Me: What kind of advice can you give someone who wants to try volunteering abroad?

Do your research and ask tons of questions. Make sure that you have a true understanding of the impact on the community and planet that your trip is having.

To learn more about volunteering with Unearth the World, please visit their projects page to learn more about our opportunities.

Have you ever volunteered abroad?

This has been an original post by Nicole Melancon of Thirdeyemom in the USA. Additional posts by Nicole on World Moms Network. 

From September 21st-23rd, 2017 World Moms Network will be at the International Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Citizenship using social media to engage more students and people to study abroad! Follow the Summit at hashtag, #studyabroadbecause.  

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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WORLD VOICE: Dreams – It’s Never Too Late

WORLD VOICE: Dreams – It’s Never Too Late


#WorldMom Ann Marie of Greece spent time with the children and workers in her charity

#WorldMom Ann Marie of Greece spent time with the children and workers in her charity

And a crazy buzz in the pit of my tummy which I had rarely felt since becoming a mother!

These were just some of a multitude of swirling emotions which engulfed me on my recent trip to East Africa. Travelling solo to a part of the world which has a bad reputation regarding health and safety measures was a challenge indeed! Not being able to sleep for about two days due to the length of the journey was just one of the obstacles I had to face. My main worry on the plane was planning tactics on how NOT to contract yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, diarrhoea, aids… the list was endless.
I really did NOT want to spend my time in Africa perched over a teeny hole trying to perfect my aim in a delirious state. Most Ugandan toilets are basically small ( to my European eyes) holes in the ground with no flush system or water. So getting sick there is no laughing matter. As it happened, I shared my hole  with another 5 families, in a shed which could barely host my ample hips. Fortunately though, this daily, aerobic activity turned out to be the most dangerous experience of my whole stay – I never felt threatened in any other way during my visit. Close friends in the medical profession had made sure my suitcase was packed with enough medical supplies to fill a pharmacy/chemist shop.
I actually needed NONE of them and even stopped using the eye drops I normally use in Greece. I didn’t even get a tummy bug or headache but was the healthiest I can remember being in many years in fact. I do believe I had more kilos in healthcare products than clothes packed in my bags, all of which were unnecessary.
Despite being full of trepidation on the outward flight regarding the dangers of bad hygiene and drinking water from a suspicious source, my main emotion was that of euphoria. I had done it!
I had thrown caution to the wind and embarked on one of my life’s ambitions after putting it on hold for decades.
Starting a family usually means, for most mothers, a period where work and life goals are put away in a storage cupboard to be taken out and savoured on rainy days whilst enjoying a cup of tea.Unless you are fortunate enough to have a full time nanny or family member to take primary charge of your offspring, most mothers are busy with the daily needs of nurturing and running a household.
That usually means our (pre-motherhood) burning ambitions and personal life goals are stored away in the closet and reappear for a brief dusting and airing once in a while but rarely see the light of day. That’s what happened to me when I had my two sons. I had always wanted to go to work with Mother Theresa in Kolkatta and had actually made the application to go and do my gap year in India. Life had different plans for me however, and due to a series of events I ended up going to Berlin to do my year out. I had an unforgettable life experience living in Germany and one of the first things I did was volunteer to work with senior citizens. Having been involved in volunteer work since secondary school, my needs in this area were certainly fulfilled and I have absolutely no regrets about my time spent in Germany. However, there was always a nagging regret that I hadn’t gone to India. I was devastated at the death of Mother Theresa on several levels and it was a final confirmation that I would never meet her personally – at least not in this life.
When my two sons were old enough to be left on their own at home I became much more active again in the community and focused my efforts on working with the huge number of Syrian refugees who have been entering Greece the last few years. I also became active in trying to encourage sponsors and supporters for a start-up or charity in Uganda.

#WorldMom Ann Marie of Greece spending time with the workers in her charity

#WorldMom Ann Marie of Greece spent time with the workers in her charity

The regret I had about not going to India manifested itself once again during my developing friendship and admiration for the group of young African pioneers who were striving to bring about change for children in their community. It had always been my dream to go and learn in a third world country. After receiving several invitations from the charity organisers to go and stay with them, so we could share our culture and ideas, I took a major decision; I thought it’s either now or never!
I really needed to grab that quietly smouldering dream and yank it out of the closet once and forever.
My family and friends were touchingly supportive and encouraging so the whole preparation went really well.
I don’t want to go into too many details in this post about my actual time spent in Uganda. It would take too long! I’ll save that story for my next post.
The point I want to share with you now is that however long you have shelved and stored your dream its RARELY too late to fulfill it or at least do some slightly altered version of it.
Where will YOU go or what will you DO to fulfill your dream(s) … which have possibly been put on hold?
Photo Credit: The Author

Ann Marie Wraight

Having lived in 4 different countries, Ann Marie finds it difficult to give a short answer about where she's from. She regards herself: Brit by birth, Aussie by nature, with a sprinkling of Greek and German based on her insatiable appetite for tasty food and chilled beer!

This World Mom has been married to her Greek soulmate for 16 years and they are the proud but constantly challenged parents of two overactive teenage boys. (She secretly wonders sometimes if she was given the wrong babies when she left the maternity clinic.) She can't explain the fascination and ability that her 13 and 14 year-olds show in math and physics or that both boys are ranked 1st and 2nd nationally in judo. Ann Marie can only conclude that those years of breastfeeding, eating home cooked meals and home tutoring really DO make a difference in academic and physical performance! The family is keeping its fingers crossed that---with the awful economic crash in Greece---continued excellence in math and/or judo will lead to university scholarships...

In addition to writing, enjoying a good glass of wine and movies, Ann Marie also works as a teacher and tends their small, free-range farm in the Greek countryside.

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World Voice: The Evolution of and Me

World Voice: The Evolution of and Me

When I began in 2012, it was very important to me that the organization succeed.  I wanted so much to help other mothers give birth safely.  I also craved a project of my own that was unrelated to being a mother or wife.

I can remember worrying in the first year that the Clean Birth Kits wouldn’t be well received or that my partner organization in Laos, ACD-Laos, wouldn’t do their part to ensure success.

In the first 2 years, I worked endlessly with ACD-Laos and traveled to Laos twice per year.  Back at home, I went to conferences, Tweeted and posted on Facebook non-stop, and sought connections and fundraising opportunities everywhere.

There was so much of me in the organization in that early period.  I needed the moms in Laos to give me a purpose, as much as they needed me.

Yet, the more I traveled to Laos, the more I understood that the only agents for real change in birth practices are local nurses.  With common language and traditions, these nurses are uniquely effective at conveying knowledge about safe birth.

With the goal of empowering local nurses, my partners at ACD-Laos and I spent time in 2014 establishing mutually-agreed up Monitoring and Evaluation procedures.   With these clear objectives and methods of tracking funds, the way was cleared for my partners at ACD-Laos to take ownership of day-to-day activities.

In 2016, when they began conducting training without me and then requested to expand to more clinics and a hospital, it was clear that ACD-Laos and the nurses were invested and in charge.It was also clear that my role had changed.

Just as the organization had evolved, so had I.  With an international move and growing kids, I no longer needed to be my purpose. 

While the need is gone, my commitment is stronger than ever.  I am so proud to be part of the team we’ve created: the nurses, ACD-Laos, and our supporters.  Year after year we make birth safe for an increasingly large number of women in Laos.

World Moms Network has supported since the beginning.  We need your help in the next 2 weeks,as we raise our largest amount ever $20,000.

Please give now if you can:

Kristyn Zalota

Kristyn brings her years of experience as an entrepreneur and serial volunteer to She holds a MA, has run small businesses in Russia and the US, and has volunteered in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Uganda on projects related to women’s empowerment.

After having children, Kristyn became an advocate for mothers in the US, as a doula and Lamaze educator, and abroad, as the Founder of She is honored to provide nurses in Laos with the supplies, funding and training they need to lower maternal and infant mortality rates in their villages.

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