From July 25 through July 30, anti-poverty advocacy group ONE joined 10 bloggers who made their way through Kenya to see what life is really like for moms in the developing world. Follow along and check their progress at http://one.org/us/actnow/moms.
Did you know that 200 people die from tuberculosis around the world every hour? That's nearly 2 million lives annually, and Kenya is leading the charge. It is the leading cause of death for people with HIV and one of the leading causes of death for women and children worldwide.
Yesterday, I felt overwhelmed after seeing a child who was suffering from malaria, meeting women and children with HIV, and learning of the conditions in which children give birth to children in Kenya.
Then today, the tide shifted from despair to hope as I went into villages and saw families and community members taking care of and supporting each other. Even though they deal with everyday struggles like making sure they have enough food to survive, they are determined to make it through painful and deadly diseases like HIV and tuberculosis.
The Centers for Disease Control set up a community volunteer program in villages near Kisumu in western Kenya. People who had recovered from tuberculosis stepped forward to be TB Ambassadors -- a completely voluntary and time-consuming position to help fellow community members. They take their role seriously and are dedicated to helping reduce the suffering of the friends, family and neighbors.
We met one woman who talked about her own battle with TB and how she lost her mother to the infectious disease. She said that without volunteer workers, people would not take on the treatment. But through them, they are able to help the bedridden recover.
Sometimes, it is easy to focus on differences when traveling abroad... or even in our own communities. The food, the landscape and the language, among other things, can present a stark difference between two cultures. Yet, at our very core, we are so similar.
When asked about her greatest concern, one woman immediately replied: "raising good children." Another said that her main motivation for volunteering is the love and compassion she feels for others.
The difference between despair and hope, I found, is people and the goodness in their hearts to make a difference.
Today's Daily Action: Today we're meeting with couples and mothers living with HIV, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases. Want to take action? Using the hashtag #ONEMoms, tweet a message (or messages) you'd like us to deliver to mothers in Kenya.
This post was originally published on 08/15/2011 and is being re-featured for HuffPost Global Motherhood.