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April 30, 2015

How Mothers in our Communities Help & Heal Us. {Photos}

Big Community. Small World.

See the first in the series: Inspiring Photos: Celebrating the grace & grit of Mothers around the World.
With thanks to our media partner, Vitamin Angels, for sharing such sweet stories for this Mother’s Day!

In an extremely remote, mountainous region of India, there is a group of women who meet to preserve their cultural traditions for the future—they share oral histories, traditional textile pattern-making, and the like.

Today, these women are also using their rich, local knowledge and positions of trust to improve the health of families in their communities.

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Above are the women of the Eastern Naga Women’s Organization (ENWO). A visit to some of the tiny villages in their four districts means a 10-15 hour journey through mountainous terrain from Kohima, the state capital. For families here, health services can be nearly impossible to obtain. Like in many places around the world, women and mothers turn to each other for support.

Several years ago, when a local health worker approached the women’s group on behalf of Vitamin Angels about spearheading an outreach program to distribute critically-needed nutrients to their communities, the women demurred. What could a women’s group who spends their time weaving and chatting know about community health, they asked. Thanks to the persistence of the health worker, they came to understand their own power. The trust they held within their communities and their intimate knowledge of its members was the key to a new approach to health. Five years later, this group now represents one of Vitamin Angels most successful vitamin programs ever, helping more than 60,000 mothers and children live healthy lives.

Motherhood is connection, and kinship.

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We’ve seen the same communal cooperation and “can do” spirit from women all around the world. What begins as a simple gathering of mothers, often transforms into an undeniable force for the good of the community.

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In many places, it’s the community that raises a child. Grandmothers, aunts, cousins, older siblings and family friends all share in the role. Sometimes children so comfortably float amongst relatives and friends it can be hard to tell at first glance who the mom is.

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When they aren’t organizing their own community outreach programs, mothers are going to great lengths to get their children the health care they need. That could mean crowding into the bed of a truck with 30 neighbors to visit a health clinic many miles away…

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or going the distance on foot, walking hand-in-hand.

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Sometimes they come in small groups.

The crowd gathers for the distribution at Namalitha Village

Sometimes they come by the hundreds…

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and thousands…

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to receive life changing vitamins provided through Vitamin Angels’ programs.

Being a new mom comes with a million questions and uncertainties. Community health events not only provide moms with care, they also create opportunities for moms to share tips, support, and build lasting friendships.

Women line up for their children's turn to receive a dose of Vitamin A

Here, mothers in Peru gather together to hear a fellow mom and health advocate for her community share information about the importance of good nutrition for their children. When information comes from a trusted friend, moms will listen.

Mothers are inevitably teachers, not only to their own children, but to the larger community.

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Everywhere we go, we find moms working together to nourish their communities.

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When moms come together, their children benefit from the loving, collaborative support and are better prepared to grow up and care for their communities in return.

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Motherhood is Global.

Donate today in honor of whomever you call mom, and follow Vitamin Angels on Facebook to see more stories and photos of mothers facing challenges around the world.

Photos: All images from Vitamin Angels

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