“Mom, when’s dinner going to be ready? I’m starving!!” I flinch at my six year old daughter’s exaggeration. It is a phrase that I myself have used countless times to accentuate my hunger. But that was before.
Before I became involved with the Social Goods Mom 500 project. Before I learned about the United Nations Development Goals (MDGs) and their countdown to end preventable child deaths. The truth is, no matter how hungry she may think she is, my daughter is not starving. She has never been starving and she most likely will never be starving. It’s something that we here in the United States take for granted. We and our children have ready access to food, clothes, shelter, medicine, and education and are truly blessed to have it. But citizens in poorer countries are not as lucky. In fact, one in eight children around the world will go to bed hungry tonight and one in four children under the age of five suffers from malnourishment. These are facts that I cannot ignore.
In 2008, in my eighth month of pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia. The doctors felt that mine and the baby’s lives were in danger and decided to induce labor and deliver my daughter prematurely. As a result of this, she was born with a minor heart defect that was, thankfully, able to be medically corrected with noninvasive measures. She spent time in the NICU, under the care of well trained doctors and nurses who got her healthy and able to come home to her family. She is now a perfectly healthy, bright eyed 1st grader and the apple of her parent’s eye. I can’t help but think about how many babies in third world countries have been born with the same defect and died because they did not have access to the medical care that could have saved them so easily, as the doctors did for my daughter. Sometimes it’s easy to push these concerns to the back of our minds. After all, our everyday lives aren’t being affected by the suffering in poor countries. It isn’t that we don’t care, we do, but sometimes the out of sight, out of mind mentality gets the best of us. But I am reminded every time I look at my daughter. Every time I hear her laughter, experience her warm embrace, or am rewarded with an “I love you, mommy!” I can’t help but silently thank God that she was born in this time and in this place where she has the best possible chance of living a full, healthy, happy life.
August 18th began the 500 day countdown to the deadline to meet MDG 4, the reduction of preventable childhood deaths by two thirds by 2015. Today is day 490 in the countdown. No child should ever go to bed hungry and every mother and child should have access to quality healthcare. I deeply believe in this cause because my life has been personally touched by the difference having access to high quality health care makes in the lives of mothers and their children. If I had continued my daughter’s pregnancy in a country that did not have access to high quality healthcare, most likely neither of us would have survived.
I believe that by coming together from all around the world, we can make the goal of reducing preventable childhood deaths by two thirds a reality. As mothers we vow to protect and nurture the children in our lives, as women we tend to hold ourselves to the highest moral standard, and when we band together, there is nothing we cannot achieve.