Last night my 4 month old daughter, Alyssa laughed for the first time. She had been showing signs of the laughter soon to come with short giggles for several weeks, but last night was different. Last night was full out, joy filled, uncontainable laughter. I thought about going to get the camera to record it but was so excited to see her laugh that I decided not to waste my time with the camera. I wanted to relish in this beautiful moment and so I did and loved every moment.
I could choose to stay home with Alyssa each day and spend all day teaching her how to blow bubbles and roll over, but instead each morning I give her a kiss good bye and send her to daycare with her daddy. I make this decision, because I work for World Concern and I love my job.
I know it’s not the most glamorous job, nor do I find myself at the front lines of our work, but I know that I am part of a team – a team that brings food and water to victims of famine, healthcare to the sick and small loans to the poor. I get to come into work each day and hear all the stories of people World Concern is helping around the world. I know that most of those stories come from women not all that different than myself.
These women have suffered much more than I could imagine and have faced tragedy like I have never seen. I have so much respect and compassion for them. I know that if you look deep in their eyes, I mean really deep, past the pain, the hunger, and fear you can see a woman, a mom, and a wife who wants nothing more than to be able to provide for her family. She is a mom who just wants to be able to play with her newborn and see laughter in her baby’s eyes.
Instead, of laughter, she has to listen to the hunger pains and the tired voices of her little ones. Instead of wrapping chubby little legs in blankets at night, she gets to wrap her small and fragile child in scraps of clothing. These women, long for something better for their children and I know that World Concern works hard to give that to them.
World Concern is participating in the 1,000 Days campaign by serving mothers, newborns and children (often the most vulnerable to malnutrition) through nutrition education, healthcare, emergency feeding programs, home gardening, and agricultural support. In Chad, World Concern trains women and their families to grow sack gardens outside their homes. Sack gardens produce leafy green vegetables in order to supplement the family’s diets with much needed nutrients. Ninety-six percent of these families reported that they were harvesting crops weekly and most were convinced that sack gardening was useful and helped women feed their families a healthy diet.
Many of these same families later participated in a follow up training on water management and vegetable business production so that women can continue to grow crops longer into the dry season as well as sell some of her crops to other families. By selling her crops, a woman not only creates an income for her family but also encourages others to eat nutritious vegetables as well.
Much of Bangladesh’s population earns a living through agriculture but for the young woman without any land to grow crops for her family, she must find a way to earn a living another way. World Concern is giving these women microloans to start their own businesses. These women learn to embroider cloth, make candles, sew table cloths and more. They are also given business training like managing accounts, banking and cash flow projection along with training on discrimination of women, basic health and environmental concerns. The income earned allows an entrepreneur to provide a safe and warm home for her children as well as education and good nutrition.
So, for me, yes my heart breaks a little each time I have to say goodbye to my little girl, even for just a few hours. But it’s worth it. I know that I am part of a team transforming the lives of people in the most desperate circumstances so that, like myself they can see joy instead of hunger in their children’s eyes.
This is one way that I can make a small sacrifice and teach my daughter the importance of caring for those in need. I know that Alyssa will be there waiting for me when I come to pick her up and she’ll give me a giant grin, and maybe now even break out into laughter.