05/08/2012 08:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Making Mother's Day More Meaningful

Mother's Day is our chance to honor the women who bind families together and raise children from babies to adulthood.

Raising good kids is one of the most challenging, and also the most meaningful, things I've ever done. I tried to teach them to respect their fellow human beings.

I, myself, don't need more material things on Mother's Day. Mostly, I wish that every mother had the same security and resources that I've had. Unfortunately, around the world, millions of mothers find themselves without the money, medicine, community standing, or even the food to provide their children with a good start in life.

Malnutrition contributes to almost a third of all child deaths. About 1,000 women die from complications in pregnancy or childbirth every day, and most of those deaths are preventable. Rural women are especially disadvantaged.

There is a Mother's Day gift that can do something about this. What if we took the day as a chance to make an investment in a woman, a family, somewhere in the world?


Phoebe Onyango from Kenya is a mother of four children. Before connecting with Heifer, Phoebe's children were malnourished, and malaria was a constant danger because they couldn't afford even a mosquito net. But today, after receiving the gift of goats from Heifer, Phoebe has a thriving farm. There is plenty of food to eat and a sustainable source of income. Her children are growing up healthy, and they are all protected by mosquito nets at night. Through the sale of vegetables and milk, Phoebe and her husband have increased their income sevenfold, allowing them to also pay for their children's school. "When Heifer leaves we will be able to sustain ourselves," Phoebe says.

Heifer International gifts multiply. Each participant is required to give the first offspring from their animal to another family in need.

I've already dropped hints to my kids: A Heifer goat would be most excellent. Maybe even two. I have a big family. I can't think of a better Mother's Day gift than helping other mothers to raise their children out of poverty and into enduring prosperity.

Phoebe and family below: