This post is part of the Global Moms Relay. Every time you share this post, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action), up to $325,000, to four causes helping improve the health and wellbeing of moms and kids worldwide: MAMA, Shot@Life, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Girl Up. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
On April 25, 2002, Olutosin Adebowale was in a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, preparing to give birth. It should have been a joyous occasion. Instead, it was a horrifying experience, with crowded conditions, verbally abusive nurses, and a general atmosphere of fear, chaos and tension.
Here is how Adebowale describes the moment:
A nurse sternly warned me not to push, despite my baby's insistence on coming into this world. When I could not take it any further, I screamed and the nurse almost hit me. "I told you not to push! No space for you to deliver!" The pain of attempting to stop my labor made me cry out in more pain.
When my baby was finally delivered, she could not breathe. The nurse looked at me and said, "You have killed your daughter." She handed the baby to my husband and said, "She is a still birth. Your wife killed your child."
Miraculously, her daughter survived. And the experience so affected Adebowale that she vowed to share her story, so that she might help women in places with similarly high infant mortality rates and inhumane childbirth conditions.
"My story," she wrote, "is the story that fuels hope, it strengthens and encourages."
Adebowale's incredible story is one of the centerpieces of this year's Global Moms Relay, one of my favorite HuffPost traditions -- a collaborative effort to tap into our collective gratitude and love, not only for our own mothers, but for all mothers around the world.
It's about showing gratitude in a way that makes a tangible difference in the lives of mothers all over the globe. The Relay uses the HuffPost platform to bring more and more voices into this conversation and harness the power of social media for good. This year, four organizations are taking part:
-- Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched in 2011 to deliver important health information to new and expectant mothers in the developing world. Using mobile phones, MAMA aims to prevent maternal deaths due to childbirth or pregnancy-related complications in Bangladesh, India and South Africa.
-- Shot@Life, which raises awareness about the cost-effective and lifesaving potential of vaccines for children in developing countries.
-- Girl Up, which engages girls everywhere to stand up, speak up, and rise up to support the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.
-- U.S. Fund for UNICEF, which has the mission to save and protect the world's most vulnerable children, with work ranging from disease prevention to emergency relief
And to show how necessary the work of these organizations is, consider the following statistics:
-- Approximately 800 women die of childbirth or pregnancy-related complications every day.
-- One child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could be prevented with a vaccine.
-- Two of the biggest killers of children under five are pneumonia and diarrhea, which account for more than one-third of childhood deaths worldwide.
-- The second most common cause of death for girls between 15 and 19 is complications from pregnancy and childbirth.
-- Half of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls 15 or younger.
-- Approximately 5.5 million children worldwide are victims of human trafficking.
These crises demand a response that taps into our collective compassion, creativity, empathy, and capacity to give.
To begin to do that, we launched the Relay on May 1, around the theme, "What kind of world do you want for your family in 2030?"
To start things off, Patricia Arquette wrote about how being a mother has fueled her efforts to improve the lives of girls and women in America and around the world. "I dream about a new America and a new world, where all people are safe and treated fairly," she wrote. "I dream of living in a time where all Americans really do have the promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; an America -- and a world -- where discrimination is abolished and where we all join together to improve our communities."
Since then we've featured the voices of women and men alike on some of the most important aspects of motherhood. And what's most striking is how many have been influenced to act by the examples of women in their own lives. There's Sheryl Sandberg on how her mother and grandmother have inspired her quest for "real equality, where women run half our companies and countries, and men run half our homes"; Jennifer Garner on how her mother's struggles growing up poor in the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma have inspired her work at Save the Children; Amanda Peet on how she hopes her children will grow up a world where no child will die from a vaccine-preventable disease; Jennifer and Lynda Lopez on the intimate connection they feel to all mothers around the world; Ricky Martin on the moral urgency of taking steps to end human trafficking; Rachel Zoe on how she teaches her two young sons to understand the importance of giving; Kathy Calvin on her dream of a future where every girl and woman is in charge of her health; Nigel Barker on his hopes that his daughter will have the same opportunities as his son; and Naya Rivera on the need for a world with more empathy, especially for mothers who struggle to provide their children with basic needs.
We are currently at just over 322,000 actions. So please join the Relay to help us reach our $325,000 goal and share this post, and the others in this series, to raise awareness and money for mothers and their children around the world.
You share, they give: Each time you 'like' or share this post via the social media icons on this post or comment below, Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 (per action) up to $325,000, to improve the health and wellbeing of moms and kids worldwide through MAMA, Shot@Life, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Girl Up. $1 means one day of school for a girl in Guatemala through Girl Up.
You can also use the Donate A Photo* app and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for Girl Up or UNICEF, up to $100,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with the click of your mouse or snap of your smart phone.
Share this post with the hashtag #GlobalMoms, and visit GlobalMomsRelay.org to learn more. The United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, BabyCenter and The Huffington Post created the Global Moms Relay with a goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.
* via the Donate A Photo app for iOS and Android. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn't reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.