A sleep-in and cuddles with your little ones, breakfast in bed (forget about the burnt toast, it’s the thought that counts), another fabric padded coat hanger from a school stall… Mother’s Day: it’s that special Sunday in May dedicated to ensuring our mums know how much we love and appreciate them. Or remembering them if they are no longer with us.
What will you be doing this Mother’s Day? Sadly, for too many women around the world, many of whom don’t celebrate the same occasions we do such as Mother’s Day, the seconds, minutes and hours will tick-by this Sunday, just like every other day.
The UN says this is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII and hardly anyone knows it's happening.
Posted by Campaign for Australian Aid on Sunday, 9 April 2017
While the fallout from the federal budget dominates news headlines, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis since World War II bubbles away with South Sudan. Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen all on the brink of famine and the smiles on the faces of Syrian toddlers continue to fade.
This Mother’s Day, we’re sharing the stories of three brave mothers whose worlds may be very different to ours but who as women, are no different. These are their stories.
Nadi Hassan* is a single mother living in Jalawla town in Iraq. Her husband died in a car bombing by Al Qaeda, leaving her to bring up their children alone. Each day, she faces many challenges and worries about the trauma her children must deal with and are sure to face in their conservative community. Nadi’s family became displaced because of ISIS - she remembers the questions her children asked her during their ordeal.
“Why did we leave our home? Why did all this misery happen to us?”
When Nadi and her family returned, they found their home and the shop they lived above burned. She recalls, “Everything had been burned, stolen and destroyed; everything was lost.”
Oxfam is working in Jalawla to bring business back to life by providing grants to market stallholders who are gradually reopening their shops and rebuilding their lives and communities. Nadi says, I am “... proud because I can take care of my children on my own.”
Meet Amokou Akoi. She is the mother of five children and lives in her hometown of Rumbek, Lakes State in South Sudan. As she prepares for the birth of her sixth baby, her family eats wild leaves and fruits such as coconut. Last season, the crops Akoi cultivated died due to heat and the prolonged dry spell. The family’s only source of milk is gone after their cattle was stolen by insurgents. As she struggles to feed her family, she rarely has enough food at home to sustain herself or her unborn child.
Akoi’s husband fled their village in fear of being caught up in the inter-communal fighting that has swept the country, making her the family’s sole breadwinner. With a helping hand from Australian aid and Plan International Australia, who is working in South Sudan, Akoi and her family have the chance to build a brighter future.
Each fortnight, she receives two packets of Supercereal, a supplementary food fortified with micronutrients that the family enjoys as porridge. In March this year alone, Plan International Australia provided food for 8,500 people in South Sudan, mostly children aged between six and 17-years-old.
The mother you see here is Syrian refugee Heven. She’s holding her 2-month-old baby, one of her five children, in their tent in Rajab Informal Tented Settlement in Lebanon. Originally living in Aleppo, like many Syrian refugees, Heven and her family now live in Rajab, one of the largest informal settlement camps (ITS) that houses more than 2000 people. Before the war, Heven and her husband Omar, who once worked in a gas company in Aleppo, lived a life similar to ours. The family moved to Lebanon four years ago and has been receiving aid from UN-based organisations and World Vision. Like many families struggling to survive on the supplies they’re handed, Heven and Omar rely on the wage of their 12-year-old son Ali, who wakes up each morning at 7am to go to the highway where he spends his day selling tissues.
World Vision Australia’s Child Protection and Conflict Specialist, Erin Joyce, has worked in refugee settlements in Lebanon and says that while people often have the basic services they need, there is no occupation for them. She says, “there’s a lot of misinformation that circulates making it distressing for women and their families. On top of that, there’s just no certainty about if or when they’ll be able to return home. They don’t know when the conflict is going to end and even if it does, they don’t know what their home or community will look like.”
Nadi, Akoi and Heven are no different to you or I. They just happen to be born in places where the likes of climate change, conflict and other complex issues, have turned their lives upside down. We may come from different places but ultimately, every mother wants the same things for their family. We all want to be safe and healthy, to be educated and lead happy, fulfilling lives. The headlines we read and hear each day can make us feel hopeless but we must realise that we can each make a difference in seemingly small ways.
By signing a petition to ask Julie Bishop to double Australia’s March 1 contribution to the famine crisis, by writing to your local MP to ask them to support the Australian aid that is providing people in need with a helping hand, by asking our leaders to ensure Australia is a good global citizen … as compassionate, caring Australians, we are strongest when we’re united.
*Please note: Nadi Hassan’s name has been changed to protect her identity
Sarah Cannata, the Media Officer for Campaign for Australian Aid.