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Raising Our Voices: Join the Global Moms Relay

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This post is part of the Global Moms Relay. We have reached our initial goal of 275,000 social media actions, which has led to Johnson & Johnson donating $275,000 to help improve the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide through the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), Shot@Life and Girl Up, in support of the UN's Every Woman Every Child initiative.

One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was a sense of unconditional loving. This meant that as I was going for my dreams, I knew that if I failed, she wouldn't love me one bit less. And that made me less afraid to fail. I also learned about generosity from my mother, whose bigheartedness was infectious. She approached life by liking everybody, and because this feeling of connection and trust is contagious, everybody liked her right back.

Sunday is Mother's Day, and while I feel my mom's spirit every day, she is especially present in my life at this time of year. And whether our mothers are still here with us or not, there's no better time to tap into the gratitude we feel for them and join the movement to improve the health and well-being of mothers and babies everywhere. That's the goal of the Global Moms Relay. In partnership with the United Nations Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and BabyCenter, The Huffington Post is putting the spotlight on the ways we can bring new opportunities to women and children around the world.

In his blog post launching this year's Relay, the UN Foundation's Aaron Sherinian recalls a common scene from his childhood: His mother, a quilter, would gather with other moms to stitch and share stories about everything from their own lives to the big issues facing the world. "As I grew older, I realized that these moms weren't talking for the sake of talking or to help the time pass by more quickly," he writes. "They knew that by coming together and raising their voices, they could make a real difference -- and they did."

The Global Moms Relay is all about bringing together those voices and making a real difference by harnessing the power of social media. The Relay is partnering with three organizations around the world that are committed to this mission:

  • Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), which delivers important health information to new and expectant mothers in India, Bangladesh and South Africa using mobile phones. Launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2011, MAMA aims to prevent the more than 800 maternal deaths due to childbirth or pregnancy-related complications that occur every day.
  • Shot@Life, a campaign to raise awareness about the cost-effective and lifesaving potential of vaccines for children in developing countries.
  • Girl Up, which helps American girls raise awareness and money for United Nations programs that help improve the lives of adolescent girls in developing countries, from helping more girls go to school to improving access to clean drinking water.

We launched the Relay on March 7, the day before International Women's Day. Since then we've heard from a range of voices -- women and men -- putting the spotlight on different aspects of motherhood: Melinda Gates on the single most important lesson her mother taught her; Queen Rania of Jordan on the potential of mothers to transform Jordan into "a more prosperous, equitable and cohesive nation"; Annie Lennox on coming to understand the difficulties her mother faced as a young mother in 1950s Scotland; Amanda Peet on how a trip to Kenya showed her the impact of vaccinations on mothers and children; former Johnson & Johnson marketing manager Esmeralda Villanueva de Ramírez on her transformative experience working with young women in Venezuela, which has one of Latin America's highest adolescent pregnancy rates; PreK12 Plaza CEO Ana Roca Castro on the lessons she learned from her single mother, who only had a sixth-grade education; Webs.com CEO Haroon Mokhtarzada on the universal nature of the maternal instinct; Global Moms Relay co-chair Lynda Lopez on her admiration for single mothers and the urgency of supporting mothers in need; and photographer Anne Geddes on what she learned from photographing pregnant women from all walks of life.

There's still time to join the Relay. Through Mother's Day we have an opportunity to give and not only improve the lives of women and children around the world but enrich our own lives in the process.

When we flex our giving muscles, the process begins to transform our own lives, because however successful we are, when we go out in the world to "get things," when we strive to achieve a goal, we are operating from a perceived deficit, focused on what we don't have and are trying to obtain -- until the goal is achieved. And then we go after the next goal. But when we give however little or much we have, we are tapping into our sense of abundance and overflow.

I joined the Global Moms Relay to tap into that sense of abundance, to pass on the unconditional loving my mother gave me, and to celebrate the example set by countless mothers around the world who are working to enrich the lives of their children. And I hope you'll join the movement too. And to all the mothers all around the world, Happy Mother's Day.

Johnson & Johnson is donating up to $375,000 to the Global Moms Relay and beyond to help improve the health and well-being of moms and kids worldwide. They've donated $275,000 so far; help us raise another $100,000 by using the Donate a Photo app* and Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 when you upload a photo for Shot@Life or Girl Up, up to $100,000. You can help make a difference in seconds with a snap of your smartphone. Every 20 seconds a child dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. Just $1 provides a measles or polio vaccine for a child through Shot@Life, a campaign to raise awareness, advocacy and funds to get vaccines to the children who need them most. 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 the goal of improving the lives of women and children around the globe.

*Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes and developed the Donate a Photo app for iOS and Android to allow users to donate a photo to one of those causes 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.