by ANNE GEDDES
Let me share what I know to be a fact after 30 years of photographing mothers and their newborns. Over these years I’ve photographed mothers and babies living in palaces; countless others who lack for nothing in relation to material possessions; young teenage mothers who are struggling on welfare; through to refugees from war torn countries. Without exception, each and every one of these mothers wants and deserves the best for her child, regardless of culture, religion or the myriad of other social circumstances. And when they bring their newborn home for the first time, they are all concerned with exactly the same things … Am I providing enough nourishment? Is my baby safe and warm? How can I give them the best start in life? These concerns never vary – they are set in stone.
Of course we are all horrified by constantly seeing footage of women and children who are starving, and/or living in war torn countries, and suffering in all sorts of ways under terrible circumstances. And we all wish we could do more. I think one of the most powerful things we can do as women and mothers, is to take these overwhelming statistics and reduce them back to a human scale in our hearts and minds. Because each and every one of the women you see in those awful circumstances, has a story to tell. She has something in common with you. Just like you, she needs to feel valued and empowered. Too often the words “famine” or “war” get in the way. What we need to do is listen to the voice of the individual.
I believe that the Million Moms Challenge is a great initiative because it sets a strong foundation for storytelling. And women instinctively love to share stories. Not only is storytelling becoming a lost art … it’s also an incredibly powerful tool. Yes, information to these women is power, but as every mother knows, it’s also important to feel that you’re not alone.
My advice would be that when you feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of women and children who need help, break that down to one mother … one child, and you may be able to identify better with the help that this one individual requires. You don’t have to help a hundred, a thousand, or a million people in need, you only need to help one. If each of us can achieve that through the Million Moms Campaign, you can only imagine the difference we as women and mothers can make.