The day in August 2010 when I opened the New York Times Sunday Week in Review section marked a transformative moment for me. On that day, the section featured excerpts from the yet-to-be-released, Pulitzer Prize-winning book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Upon reading Half the Sky, and learning, among other things, the debilitating and degrading effects of a condition known as obstetric fistula, I knew I had to act. Shortly thereafter, I conducted a fundraiser for the Fistula Foundation and raised $10,000 by asking family and friends for $20 donations and securing a $5000 grant from the Oak Foundation. I then reached out directly to Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn to tell them how they inspired me to act which, as a teacher, was something I had always endeavored to impart to my students through something I called "I Make A Difference Projects," requiring students research and take action on an issue.
I was honored when, in his May 8, 2010 column in the New York Times, entitled "Celebrate: Save a Mother," Mr. Kristof remarked on my efforts, calling it "truly a heartwarming cause." In that column, Mr. Kristof wrote that $14 billion (currently more than $18 billion) is spent annually on gifts, meals and flowers each Mother's Day. He stated that this extraordinary amount of money could educate 60 million girls in the developing world who currently do not receive an education. He suggested further that "It's time to move the apostrophe so that it becomes not just Mother's Day, honoring a single mother, but Mothers' Day, an occasion to try and help mothers around the globe as well." Little did I know at the time that Mr. Kristof's column would galvanize a group of women, including me, to act again.
On Mothers' Day 2011, we mothers gave birth to the Mothers' Day Movement. By moving the apostrophe, we have pledged to make Mother's Day more meaningful by asking family, friends, and what would come to more than 3,000 donors to rethink their giving priorities. Our mission was to annually select a 501c3 organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children and to direct donations to that entity. Our first two campaigns have raised over $200,000 towards this effort.
Our 2011 beneficiary, Shining Hope for Communities, operates a school for girls, a community center and a medical clinic in Kibera, a large slum of Nairobi, Kenya. Mr. Kristof and his team subsequently visited Shining Hope and included them in the PBS documentary Half the Sky. Chelsea Clinton also featured Shining Hope in a segment of NBC's Rock Center where she highlighted the incredible work being done to educate young girls who would never have had the opportunity to be educated.
Our 2012 beneficiary, Saving Mothers, works to combat the tragedy that every 90 seconds a woman dies from complications related to childbirth. Saving Mothers trains and educates traditional birth attendants to perform safe and sterile births in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Liberia where maternal mortality rates are high.
This year, our beneficiary is the Fistula Foundation as our team continues to be committed to the belief that this debilitating condition is both preventable and treatable. Indeed, it costs only $450 to repair a fistula and transform a woman's life forever.
We are proud that the Mothers' Day Movement has helped change lives through education and medical treatment for women in the developing world. Our lives have been forever enhanced as well.
You can learn more about the Mothers' Day Movement, our beneficiaries and our team by visiting our website.