Better Moms Make a Better World
The road swirled with dust, and the scorching heat made the air feel like a thick felt blanket. We were walking side by side—me and this mom of four from Mbita, Kenya. And while our destination of the day was the same, I knew our lives were very different. Monika and I were headed to her house for lunch after attending Sunday worship services, and we made a few stops. The first was to purchase a live chicken for butchering. The next was to carefully choose fresh greens and rice; Monika carefully inspected them for insects before making the purchases. The money exchange was quick and direct; Monika carefully negotiated each one.
In her one-room metal framed hut, I noted order, a sense of purposeful efficiency, from the makeshift desk that held one book and several pieces of charcoal for writing, to the tidy, cleanly swept kitchen space. While there were no beds, there was a designated sleeping area. Pallets neatly lined the wall, each with their own mosquito net. In the other homes I had visited, a sense of carelessness was evident, bereft of a sense of family or structure. Food remains were left haphazardly, with no evidence that members had meals together or slept in assigned sleeping areas. No proof of household chores existed, such as a thatch broom leaning again the wall or soap for cleaning dishes or hands. In Monika’s house, each family member had evidence of belonging, and it was easy to interpret the household routine. Why was this home so different from the others I had visited? I began to ask questions.
The answers came when I learned the story of Lillian, a native Kenyan who served as the school’s parent liaison. With no formal training, Lillian took it upon herself to make home visits, checking to see that the students had food to eat and a place to rest, that they had a designated spot in which to do their simple school work, that water was boiled properly before drinking. Because Monika’s children went to the school, she benefited from these visits.
As the CEO of MOPS International, I know that moms are a catalyst of health and well-being in the family. After studying the forty years of MOPS Research, I now know what Lillian seemed to instinctively know: Moms become better moms when they receive basic training, help, and encouragement, and the impact stretches beyond the walls of the family hut.
Sherry Surratt is the president and CEO of MOPS International and is a contributor to the recently-released “Mother & Child Project: Raising our Voices for Health and Hope,” a compilation from Zondervan Publishing on global maternal and child health issues, from which this piece was taken.