The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section joins Mothers Day Every Day, an initiative of the White Ribbon Alliance and CARE, in a countdown to Mother's Day. Pulling together diverse voices, Mothers Day Every Day is raising awareness and calling for greater U.S. leadership to saves the lives of moms and babies globally.
To be a mother -- a life-bearer -- is an extraordinary thing and something that I am deeply connected to. Giving birth to my daughter, Gabby, is the greatest thing I have ever done in my life; it was my first taste of motherhood and it ignited a deep love within me. I had the great privilege of watching this love grow as my family expanded with my marriage to Stephan and his children, who became my stepchildren. I can't even express the kind of love I feel seeing my children now with their own babies -- my grandchildren -- it is a force unto its own.
Because of my family, I am constantly reminded of how deep and profound a mother's love truly is. And, I connect with this love, this idea of motherhood, not only as a mother and grandmother, but also as a businessperson -- I understand what it means to give birth to your passions and to nurture those passions throughout a lifetime.
I have shared, openly, about my heart for Haiti and my desire to see this country of endless creativity recover, rebuild and thrive. In many ways, my passion for Haiti comes from my understanding as a mother. I find myself drawing on my maternal instincts constantly. Just like a child, Haiti is bursting with limitless potential and possibility. Shortly after the devastating earthquake, I began my work in Haiti with the Hope, Help & Relief Haiti mission working to bring like-minded visionaries together in the creativity, art, music and film arenas to raise awareness and support for Haiti. What I found when I traveled to Haiti is that every person is an artist, that it is a country bursting with unbridled artistic talent. What I know for sure is that where there is creativity, there is hope. And, Haiti is the most hopeful place I have ever experienced.
As I was reflecting upon Mother's Day, I found myself thinking about Haiti and the idea of global motherhood. Mother's Day is, of course, personal to me, but it also offers a moment to reflect upon what it means to be a mother across the globe. As mothers, we are in the unique position to shape the world around us through our children and pass on the values we hold dearest. A woman who has greatly inspired me in Haiti is Shelley Clay, founder of the Apparent Project. Shelley first ventured to Haiti because of her earnest desire to be a mother; she traveled to Haiti because she wanted to adopt a child. But, what Shelley found when she arrived was that it was more than just one child that needed her mothering; it was a whole community. As Shelley explored the orphanage systems in Haiti she discovered that they were structured around childcare, but weren't addressing the roots of child abandonment. Shelley decided to found the Apparent Project to passionately advocate for the adoption of true orphans while creating solutions to for parents to continue to care for their children through their artisan program. This is passion, this is love, and this is what being a mother looks like!
It's stories like Shelley's that reaffirm my belief that we must invest in the world's mothers. A healthy mom means a healthy family, community and future. If we assist with maternal well-being, we are empowering our children from the very beginning. If we provide access to safe and monitored childbirth, we are going to protect the lives of many mothers and newborns. If we educate others about the importance of safe pregnancies, deliveries and care for young children, we are going to see success. We know which strategies have proven effective and I have witnessed this firsthand.
The struggles I have seen in Haitian orphanages and amongst Haitian women who desire to experience safe and healthy pregnancies and childbirth have torn at my heartstrings. They have given rise to the mother in me. That is why I have worked with the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, and for the past two years joined with Arianna Huffington and Sarah Brown at the WIE Symposium to empower women. These organizations do amazing work for women around the world and truly represent my passions. They have also helped me shape the ideals that I instill in the mission of my organization, the Urban Zen Foundation.
In honor of Mother's Day, I want to invite you to join me on this journey of advocating for all mothers everywhere. It is an act of love, it is a celebration of life and it is a promise for an inspired tomorrow.
Donna Karan is a world-renowned fashion designer and founder of the Urban Zen Foundation, an organization to create a working structure for advancing wellness, preserving culture and empowering children. To learn more about the Haiti Artisan Project, click here.