This post is part of the Global Mom Relay. Every time you share this blog, $5 will go to women and girls around the world. Scroll to the bottom to find out more.
Here's the first thing I realized once I knew I was going to have a baby: Nothing can prepare you for being a mother. Really, nothing. That's just not a cliché. The second thing I realized came as a huge surprise to me. When your little one finally arrives, and you get to hold her in your arms for the first time, in all your exhaustion, and joy, it doesn't take long for a seemingly simple but very powerful observation to come to you: it's a sudden, acute awareness that almost every woman on the planet has had this experience.
They know your exact anxieties, hopes, dreams and fears. You realize you are part of a global community, and that all the women in it are seeking the same level of care, love, opportunity and wonderful experience for their newborn. For many of us, the realization comes that you wouldn't want any child to not have every possible basic need fulfilled -- and that many around the world don't. And you know this should never be the case.
At least, that's how my call to real action happened -- maybe because before, even though I considered myself a compassionate, politically aware person, awake to the problems of people in the developing world, as a young person, I probably thought I could never really help. But this weekend, I got to meet three inspiring young women, who didn't have to wait until they were mothers to know that they could. Natasha Madorsky, Sarah Gale and Martha Zuniga are all teen advisors for the U.N. Foundation's Girl Up program -- all between the ages of 14 and 17 -- who make it clear how easy it is, no matter your age, to take the leap from thinking to doing.
These young women do everything from writing blogs to organizing events to selling handmade hair accessories, so that they can raise funds and awareness for programs that benefit girls in developing countries -- and they provide feedback to the organizers on everything Girl Up does. If you are ever down, or lose faith and feel that we are living in terrible times and are in a terrible place, you only need a few minutes talking to these girls to feel ready to take on the world again.
They are regular teens and have come to their passion and active involvement honestly, in their own, personal, and very different ways. Natasha, 17, was involved with the Model U.N. at her school: "When I was in 10th grade, I represented the nation of Senegal, and I developed this kind of full-scale plan for reforming education in West Africa." (By the way, that's not the mind-blowing part. She's been doing this kind of Model U.N. stuff since SIXTH grade.) "And I worked for months on it, and I presented it at the conference, and then I was just frustrated by the fact that my resolution didn't do anything -- that it was just this whole theoretical world in which you fix global problems, but nothing actually happens. That kind of coincided with me hearing about Girl Up and realizing the mission of Girl Up coincided so beautifully with this resolution that I had written. I was, you know, amazed that there was a very easy avenue for me to get involved in this cause that I put so many months of work into."
For Martha, also 17, it was much simpler. "I was listening to Drake one day," she laughs. "And he said, 'When all is said and done, more is always said than done.' That really resonated with me. And, just knowing that some people perceive girls as weak, it just makes me sad, and just makes me want to fight more for them."
Sarah felt that once she was aware, she couldn't go back. "People in the world today -- in my community, and people that I see around -- are oblivious to a lot of things that happen in the world that don't affect them. And it just kind of struck me -- you need to do something about it, even if it doesn't directly affect you. There are so many things that happen in developing countries that don't happen in the United States, and people just continue to live their lives without even thinking about it -- and it was just kind of annoying to me," she laughed. Sarah believes so many of our young people would feel the same, if they were made aware. "I just didn't know. I didn't know that girls in Africa have to walk all day, just to get water."
And for all of them, the final goal is the same: a world where, as Natasha put it, "a Girl Up is not so necessary."
But even in that world, they would still be making all the mothers proud.
Each time you share this Global Mom Relay piece on Facebook, Twitter, or Email, or donate $5 or more through clicking on the above graphic, a $5 donation (up to $62,500 per week or $125,000 every two weeks) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Girl Up. Join us by sharing it forward and unlock the potential for women and children around the globe. For more information, visit www.unfoundation.org/