There are few things as powerful as a mother’s love for their children. A mother’s love will endure through any number of hardships; through seemingly endless sleepless nights with crying newborns, through years of sullen looks and monosyllabic conversations with teenagers. This love gives birth to families, to communities and sometimes, it gives birth to ideas that change the world.
Here is a short, and by no means complete, list of mothers whose love for their children is affecting change. Some are using their platforms to bring light to causes worthy of attention; others are quietly going about their work, changing individual lives. Each woman is remarkable, and all work is borne of their encounters with motherhood.
Nicolle Drake – Smile Like Drake Foundation
Christopher James Drake was 23-years-old when a crashing wave swept him from North Curl Curl Beach’s rock pool to an angry ocean that kept him for four days - until his body was recovered by local police. He had swum through agitated waters to come to the aid of two girls in the rock pool. One girl attested to his heroism, saying his last words were: "Are you all right?"
Motivated by the love and loss of her son, Nicolle Drake, along with Christopher's father, Trevor, set up Smile Like Drake Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation that aims to improve water safety, named for the infectious smile their son was known for. They are currently working on an anchor and harness system designed to prevent rock fisherman from drowning.
Of the son responsible for so much good, Nicolle has written: "We were blessed to have the most extraordinary son who was selfless to the end, helping a young girl when a rogue wave swept him away."
"He was a hero and will always be our hero. We will love you forever and never forget you our precious son, brother and mighty warrior."
You can donate to the Smile Like Drake Foundation here.
Rosie Batty – Luke Batty Foundation
There are few mothers who are as well known in this country as Rosie Batty. The 2015 Australian of the Year is perhaps the most vocal and vigilant of domestic violence campaigners. Her efforts have affected real and discernible change in the way domestic violence is perceived and responded to in this country. The Victorian Labor government established Australia’s first royal commission into family violence and committed a further $30 million over four years to protect women and children at high risk of family violence.
It is impossible to discern the many lives Rosie Batty has saved, or will in the future.
All of this however, was borne of a pain no mother should endure - the loss of her son, Luke, who at 11 years of age was murdered by his father, in what became the last tragic incident in a long cycle of family violence.
As with her life’s work, Batty’s speech upon receiving her Australian of the Year reward began with thoughts of Luke.
“Thank you Mr Prime Minister. I am truly honoured. I would like to dedicate this award to my beautiful son, Luke. He is the reason I have found my voice and I am able to be heard.”
Mia Freedman admitted that she was nervous about meeting Rosie Batty when she came into the Mamamia offices for an interview. They ended up talking about everything from how you prepare yourself to talk about the worst moment of your life to what she can laugh about now.
You can donate to the Luke Batty Foundation here.
Fatma Elzein – ‘Mummies Paying it Forward’ Facebook page
What first began as way to donate surplus clothing between family friends, has now grown to a crowd-sourcing charity Facebook page of over 10, 000 Facebook members – and responsible for it all, mother of four, Fatma Elzein.
Mummies Paying it Forward currently has thirty-five drop-off locations where volunteers can donate their used clothing, and any other items that may be useful to those in need. As the number of people willing to donate has grown, so too have the causes which the page has been able to dedicate their resources to -victims escaping domestic violence, unemployed people, asylum seekers, Syrian refugees, homeless people, and children learning to read – all have been helped by the popular Facebook page.
For her efforts, Elzein was named a nominee for Australian of the Year last year.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia, Elzein revealed the motivation behind her first charity donation was the memory of her daughter, who passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
“To know what you have put together has been able to feed someone, a basic human need … is a really unique and special accomplishment.”
“Those are the things that stay with me, it’s very overwhelming sometimes, but very rewarding.”
Go here to learn more about what items Mummies Paying It Forward currently needs.
Jessica Rowe – Awareness of post-natal depression
On her morning show, Studio 10, in a way that very few public figures have done before, Jessica Rowe publicly discussed in front of thousands, her struggle with post-natal depression. She used words that were frank and honest; startling and even shocking to those who had previously been unware to a condition one in seven women wrestle with every day.
"I had everything in life I could possibly wish for, and finally I had this beautiful baby girl, but I never felt more desperate and sad," she said.
It wasn’t the first time Rowe had brought awareness of the condition to the forefront of public consciousness – since the birth of her first child, and consequent experience with post-natal depression, Rowe has been a patron for the beyondblue Perinatal Mental Health Program. She has previously written in detail about the occasions which alerted her to the severity of her depression, saying –
The small silver Tiffany’s clock that I used to time breastfeeds became a weapon in my mind. I wondered how easily the clock could crack my baby’s delicate skull. My eyes would be drawn to the sharp carving knife in our second drawer in the kitchen. I wondered if such a knife could pierce my little daughter’s soft skin. I knew I would never hurt my baby, but these bizarre thoughts of turning everyday objects into hazards, kept going around in my mind.
I wrapped the knife up in newspaper and threw it away. I did this at night, so the neighbours wouldn’t see me. I hid the silver clock. It didn’t matter that these objects were out of sight, as they were very much still in my mind.
Through sharing her story, she has enabled the perception of powerful and successful women to include those with vulnerabilities and serious secret struggles. She has reminded mothers that they need not pretend they are coping when they feel they are not.
If you feel like you might be experiencing post-natal depression, or know someone who might, please ask for help - beyondblue’s Support Service can be reached on 1300 22 4636.
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