When I asked her how she saw her future, she didn't bat an eye. "I want to go to secondary school and university," she told me, "I want to become a doctor."
I appreciate my mother and everything she went through. As a woman and mother, I passionately believe that women everywhere in the world deserve access to sexual and reproductive health care.
Often times, we can't anticipate the happiest days of our lives. Sometimes they will burst upon us like a surprise present, and other times we barely recognize when we are in the throes of one.
All these lovely children have one thing in common: They were or are in desperate need of delicate and risky open-heart surgery to correct life-threatening heart defects -- specialized treatment that is either scarce or nonexistent where they live.
Today, I realized something that has been easy to forget: It's not that people don't care, it's that they don't know, which is what makes my job as a Syrian-American and as a citizen of this earth in informing them so much more important.
WFP, which relies on voluntary funding, has received so little in donations that it has not been able to preposition food for the rainy season. This is the time of year when roads are washed out and food supplies cannot move.
The number of children affected every year by disasters is projected to reach 175 million over the next ten years -- a figure that will have nearly tripled since the early 1990s. Children represent more than half of all people affected by disasters, and not surprisingly, the children at greatest risk are typically the poorest and hardest to reach.
Violence against women and girls has impeded progress on nearly every MDG. This includes efforts to reach the MDG 6 target of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS--an epidemic that still disproportionally affects women and girls in many countries.
I was born in South Africa, in Durban. My mother was a community health nurse, specializing in family planning. She understood that women's health is vital to the health of the entire society. She was determined to make a difference and express her opinion, and she was my first exposure to activism.
Today -- and on any other day -- millions of women around the world fall short from realizing their full potential.
We are fortified by evidence that equality for women is progress for all.
The 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) generated unprecedented political will and funding for girls' and women's health and rights. Unfortunately though, the MDGs are quickly coming to an end just when we are beginning to gain momentum.
One thing no one expects when they're expecting is discrimination. Unfortunately, pregnancy discrimination is all too real. But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it.
I grew up in a war that made me a refugee from my home in Sierra Leone, and left so many of my friends and loved ones without education -- and with it, little hope that they can contribute meaningfully to their societies.
Women like Marième surprise and inspire us all as they take new knowledge, share it with others and turn knowledge into action in their communities. The goal they have for their families resonates with all of us because it is a universal one -- to ensure that children are educated, safe, healthy and able to reach their full potential.
"To me the common thread for the girls in the film, was that they each believed (against all evidence) that they deserved more. They just had a deep sense of their own power and potential."
And that was how a tip from one mother, through another mother, to a third mother, about a drug used in villages and small towns in a developing country, along with state of the art medical technology and expertise, saved the life of my friend, in a top-level hospital in one of the world's most developed cities.
Donald E. Anderson, aged 73, a retired postal worker in Seattle, Washington, died recently. I didn't know Mr. Anderson, who lived at literally the opposite end of the U.S. from my home in New Hampshire, and he didn't know me. But he has had a lasting imprint on me and my family. We are linked forever, and I hope we can live up to his legacy.
It's important to note that there is a solution. With a little help, at-risk children can be protected against slavery, as can their parents and neighbors.
A community of love will help NICU families become the best advocates, nurturers and champions for their precious babies.