The adventure of getting there is half the fun


Sometimes getting there is half the fun. Traveling half way across the world is no easy feat and as long as you maintain a positive attitude and sense of humor than it can actually be quite an adventure.

I began my journey to India at nine am on Sunday, May 19th and four flights and 36 hours later, I finally arrived at my final destination, Delhi. As always, there were lots of bumps along the way, a few which began before I even left. The physical journey was long and arduous, yet the mental journey has literally just begun.

As much as I love to travel, leaving is always the hardest thing. The days before a big trip are always jam-packed with preparation as I run around in a mad dash trying to get everything done. I’m always stressed and always feel mixed emotions about leaving. A lot of excitement, anticipation tagged along with that not so pleasant anxiety I feel about leaving the kids. I know it is the mother in me. But leaving home for a long trip always unsettles my nerves. As soon as I’m on the plane, I’m fine. It is just that terrible goodbye and a little bit of worry.

Sunday morning was no different than before. After a stressful couple of days, I woke up with those usual pretravel jitters. By nine am the car was loaded with my suitcase and we were off to the airport. As we neared the terminal, my six-year-old daughter began to cry. “Mama, why do you have to go to India” she asked between sobs. My little girl always has a way of getting right inside my heart. I felt my stomach tighten. “Because I’m trying to save the world” I answered steadily. “But why do you have to do it?” she questioned. And for a moment I was speechless and stunned by her question, coming from a kindergartener. “Because someone has to do it” I responded.

Two and a half years ago a life-changing trip to Nepal and India opened my mind. I have traveled all my life but for some reason this trip in particular was like nowhere else I’d been. I had never seen poverty like I did in India and Nepal. I had just finished reading Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky” which educated me on so many issues about women and poverty that I never understood. The book has a strong message that anyone can do something to change the world. No matter how big or small, you can make a difference. This belief prompted me to start my blog and use my voice as a way to share my experiences around the world and educate others on what is happening sometimes behind the scenes.

Last fall I began writing as a member of the Global Team of 200, a group of mom bloggers trying to change the world by using their voice to educate others on maternal and infant health, education, children, nutrition, human trafficking, water and sanitation and other important issues that relate to poverty. The more I learned about these issues, the more passionate I’ve become about trying to help make the world a better place.

I’ve learned that you cannot travel with a blind eye. You must always have a “third-eye” so you can see everything – good and bad. So many times people choose to ignore the bad because they don’t want to see it. The world will not change and become a better place for all if we continue to ignore fixable problems. As a global citizen, it is our duty to help the millions of voiceless people who are suffering silently.

As I embarck on this journey, I intend to do whatever I can to have an open-mind and take everything in. I am sure it will be yet another life-changing, eye-opening experience. I look forward to sharing my journey with you all.


Stay tuned….
We have started a tumblr blog at to follow our trip. You can also follow us along on Twitter at hashtag #SocialGoodMomsIndia.


The Birth of a Mother

In honor of today’s release of Save the Children’s annual State of World Mother’s report, I am sharing the emotional aspects of my birth story to help advocate for the one million newborns that die needlessly and helplessly within the first 24 hours of life. By sharing my birth story, I am joining moms from across the United States to help bring awareness and advocacy steps in making the first 24 hours of life count. The bottom of this post will have more information on the results of the report and how you can help spread the word. 


Me and my son Max, right after his birth. 11/11/04.

I will be completely honest. I was never sure that I wanted to become a mother. At 32, I felt my life was already fulfilling enough, being happily married, working hard in my career and enjoying traveling to crazy places, running marathons and having all the freedom I could possibly want. Perhaps I was selfish but I was happy.

All this changed the day I was half way around the world, doing my very first dive in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, when I got the call. That terrible call that I will never forget. The call to tell me that my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew had unexpectedly died. I was in shock. It couldn’t be true. How could a healthy, beautiful happy child that I had seen only two weeks ago be gone just like a flick of a light. How could something so ungodly awful and tragic happen? I felt raw. Numb. And deeply distraught. Although I wasn’t a mother and I couldn’t possibly understand, I loved that little boy with the bright blue eyes and the dashing smile. It was that tragedy that made me realize how short and precious life truly is and how I couldn’t imagine not possibly being a mother myself.

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Why I am advocating for newborn health

Earlier this month, I posted on the upcoming Newborn Health Summit in South Africa and shared some tragic facts about how many children are not getting a chance at life. The post is called “Crisis and Hope in Newborn Health“.

As part of the Global Team of 200, I have been working with the Gates Foundation this month to spread word and awareness about global newborn health in honor of The Global Newborn Health Conference being held on April 15th in South Africa. The conference is supported by Save the Children. MCHIP, Gates Foundation, USAID andUNICEF.

Today, my YouTube video was released on why I am advocating for newborn health. It made me cry. It is so beautiful that I had to share. It is a part of who I am, what I believe, what I stand for, and why I must advocate for all those voiceless moms around the world  who won’t have the joy of watching their children grow up.

I am so honored to be part of the Global Team of 200 and truly looking forward to my upcoming trip to India this May where I will go to advocate and learn more about maternal health.

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Moms advocate for safe water: Recap of World Water Day 2013

Last Friday, March 22 was World Water Day 2013, a powerful day of advocacy and awareness worldwide about the importance of safe water and sanitation. As part of the Global Team of 200, a group of social good mom bloggers from across the country who concentrate on women and girls, child hunger, and maternal health, I wrote my piece titled “Coming together for World Water Day“.


Photo credit: WaterAid

Jennifer James, founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good and The Global Team of 200 wrote this piece today on the popular blog site Babble called “Mom Bloggers in the Importance of Water” which documents the work our volunteer team of social good mom bloggers did for World Water Day 2013. I was honored to read it and wanted to share it with you all.

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Coming together for World Water Day, Friday March 22

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This Friday, March 22, is World Water Day – a day delegated by the United Nations to recognize the importance and need of safe water around the world. In honor of this important day, I am thrilled to be working with the Global Team of 200 and WaterAid to help raise awareness of the desperate need for safe drinking water and sanitation around the world. Safe water and sanitation transforms lives and is one of the keys to bringing people out of poverty.


Water is just the beginning because… it helps build a more prosperous future. For every $1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of $4 is returned in increased productivity, thanks to time saved and better health. Photo Credit: WaterAid.

Did you know that 783 million people do not have access to safe drinking water?

Step back and think about this statistic for a moment. What would you do if you were not able to simply turn on your faucet and fill up your glass or pot with clean, safe water?


Until recently, Ayelech, a 22-year-old mother of two living in Lehayte, Ethiopia spent over two hours a day searching for water and carrying it home in two large jerry cans on her back. She gave birth to her second child Oytiba while on the side of river filling her cans. Photo credit: WaterAid.

What would you do if you had to spend an hour or two each and every day fetching clean drinking water?


With a safe water source close to home, people in the world’s poorest countries have a lot more time and water to cultivate crops, saving money and improving their diets at the same time. Photo credit: WaterAid.

How would you manage? How would you live your life? And more importantly, how would you care for your family?


School-age children spent their days scrambling up narrow rocky trails, carrying home dirty water instead of going to school. Photo Credit: WaterAid.

To most of us in the Western world, the thought of not having instant access to clean, safe drinking water is literally unimaginable. However, for 11 % of the world’s population, this is a tragic reality. When you combine having unsafe drinking water with poor sanitation, it leads to diarrhea which kills 2,000 children every single day. Something completely unthinkable to many of us.


Every day, millions of women walk miles to fetch water, often carrying a child too. When the child gets too heavy to carry, they are left at home, often unsupervised. Photo credit: WaterAid.

Millions of people are trapped in a world in which clean, fresh and safe water is not even a remote option and has led to dire consequences. Preventable deaths and diseases, wasted time spent fetching water each day, lack of access for girls to education due to no adequate sanitation, and lower economic output for the nations without safe water and sanitation. Not having safe water or sanitation keeps people trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty with little chance of escape.


Water really is just the beginning…..these children are thrilled with their recently constructed toilet that provides them with good sanitation and privacy. Safe water really helps keep girls in school too. Photo credit: WaterAid.

But there is hope as the problem of unsafe drinking water is entirely solvable.

This Friday, join WaterAid and the Global Team of 200 to help spread the word about global water poverty. There are a variety of ways you can participate in this day and help spread awareness.

How you can help:

  • Follow WaterAid on Twitter and Facebook and share our posts on the #20ways that water is just the beginning of the road out of poverty. Also follow along with the Twitter has tag #WorldWaterDay 2013 for the latest news.
  • Join the World Water Day Google+ Hangout at 1.30pm EST/ 5:30PM GMT on Friday, March 22 at  – WaterAid and other leading water organizations (such as  +charity: water,, +Water For People, +People Water) will be discussing the world water crisis and solutions in a celebration moderated by YouTube star Justine Ezarik and WaterAid America’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Lisa Schechtman (@LSchecht).
  • Make a donation: as experts in practical, hands-on water solutions WaterAid has brought clean water to 17.5 million people. But we need your help to achieve our aim of helping 1.4 million more people this year.

Please also watch WaterAid’s beautiful video “Water is Just the beginning” and share it.

Lives are transformed when hours spent carrying water are instead spent with family, tending crops, raising livestock or starting a business. Simple access to water, toilets, and hygiene education keeps families healthy, women and girls safe, and children in school. In communities around the world, WaterAid has helped 17.5 million people take the first steps out of poverty.

Together we can make the world a better place!


Photo credit: WaterAid.

Visit for all the latest World Water Day news. To learn more about WaterAid’s work and statistics, please click here. 

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Help Save the Children: Petition for A National Commission on Children


Photo credit: Save the Children

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.” – Barack Obama

One of my favorite organizations to work with is Save the Children. Save the Children is one of the leading organizations of helping children worldwide. Their vision is “a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.”

Perhaps because I’m a mom, I feel this innate need to protect children from harm. For children are so innocent and are the future of our world.  That is why I use my voice to advocate for children worldwide whether it by through writing and educating people about children’s issues on my blog, using social media to tweet and share facts and statistics about children or conducting face to face meetings with my members of Congress either here in Minnesota or on Capital Hill.


Photo credit: Save the Children.

However, you don’t need to do all that to be an advocate for children. In fact, you can help out by signing this petition below for the creation of a National Commission on Children. Here are the details:

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Petition for a National Commission on Children

1)      The Situation:

  • Every child deserves a happy and safe childhood and an opportunity for a bright future.  But for too many—including the 20 young lives lost in Newtown, CT and the 16 million who live in poverty—that isn’t a reality.
  • The challenges for this generation of America’s children are unlike any we’ve seen before. We cannot stand by and let fear, violence and poverty become pervasive parts of childhood in America.
  • While Save the Children endorses the President’s proposal to curb gun violence, as well as measures to expand mental health services, these are just the first steps toward addressing a very complex issue: the safety and well-being of all children in a country where nearly 1 in 4 lives in poverty.

2)      The Solution:

  • Proactive policy initiatives that protect our nation’s children are critical not only to a child’s development, but to the health and stability of our country.
  • In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children, together with Children’s Health Fund, Every Child Matters, First Focus, Harlem Children’s Zone and Share Our Strength, has launched a petition urging the Obama Administration and Congress to establish a National Commission on Children. The partner organizations will send their signed call for action to the White House prior to the President’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12.
  • The new Commission should be tasked with creating a national policy on children and setting goals for reducing childhood poverty, obesity, illiteracy, and violence.
  • The support for the petition continues to grow, with more and more prominent organizations joining the cause every day, including the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, Catholic Charities USA , Child Care Aware® of America, Girls Inc., KaBOOM!, National Association of School Nurses and the YMCA of the USA.
  • The first National Commission on Children was formed by President Reagan and Congress in 1987 and ultimately led to the enactment of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, among other important initiatives.  Twenty-five years later, it’s time for another Commission to develop bold, new ideas to tackle today’s challenges.
  • Child protection has been a top priority for Save the Children throughout its nearly 100-year history. The organization’s programs in the United States and across the globe focus on the needs of the most vulnerable children, while aiming to keep all children free from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence.
  • Immediately following the Dec. 14 tragedy in Newtown, Conn., Save the Children—headquartered in nearby Westport, Conn.—deployed staff to provide emotional support to the children and parents in the affected community. 

3)      Call to action and what you can do to help:

  • Now, the entire country must come together to find bold, new ideas to ensure all of America’s children are safe and protected. We can do more, and we must do more. We’re asking everyone to join our urgent call for a National Commission by signing this petition today.

Together let’s make the world a better place and give our children the future they deserve. One of life, liberty and justice for all.

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WaterAid: Imagine life without access to clean water

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All photos credited to WaterAid and used with permission.

Can you imagine living a life without access to clean water or sanitation? Something as basic yet critical as clean water and access to a toilet is a luxury that many people around the world in developing nations simply don’t have.

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27 Acts of Kindness

“Weeping is not the same thing as crying, It takes your whole body to weep, and when it`s over, you feel like you don`t have any bones left to hold you up.” 
― Sarah Ockler, Twenty Boy Summer

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Remember the victims and their shining smiles. 26 are pictured above. Yet there are 27 victims of the massacre if you include the killer’s mother who was shot before he entered the school. Photo credit: Time Magazine

Like most people around the world I was mortified and heartbroken by the horrific events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary in the small, close-knit community of Newtown, Connecticut. As a mother of two children ages 6 and 8, the unimaginable tragedy struck even closer to my heart and soul and made me think in ways I didn’t want to. How on earth a young lost soul could do the most horrific thing imaginable is beyond any reasonable thinking. I have thought about it for a long time and still the pain and fear remain and the questions unanswered. Perhaps we will never know.

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Human Trafficking and stopping the unthinkable


Photo Credit: © UNICEF/NYHQ2009-2579/Shehzad Noorani. Parul hides her face in Proshanti, a shelter managed by the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA). She was married at 14 years old, but her husband abandoned her when she became pregnant. She left the baby with her parents when her aunt offered to find her a job in Dhaka. The aunt instead brought her to Kolkata, India, and sold her to a brothel. She was forced to become a sex worker. She was later arrested in a police raid and sent to a local women’s shelter. 

Human trafficking is perhaps one of the most unimaginable practices in existence in today’s world. However, it is real and it is happening even outside my very own doorstep in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just this morning when I picked up the newspaper, I read the startling news that the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul has been ranked the 13th largest center for child prostitution in the country. Thankfully much is being done to combat sex and human trafficking in Minnesota thanks to the newly signed piece of legislation called the Minnesota Safe Harbors Law.* Yet much more needs to be done in this combined metro area of close to 3 million people, and even a larger battle remains on a global scale.

Nearly no place in the world is untouched by human trafficking. Furthermore human trafficking can occur within and outside of international borders occurring in a variety of industries ranging from sex trade, to forced child labor and child soldiers. Oftentimes the victims are kidnapped against their will or inadvertently taken from their families who believe their children are going away to get an eduction where in reality they are being sold into a life of servitude and slavery inside a brothel.

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The Crisis in Syria and how you can help

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The onset of the Syrian conflict over 21 months ago has been utterly devastating. Thousands of Syrians have been displaced and over 540,000 Syrians are registered refuges in the neighboring countries of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. Unfortunately the refuge crisis is only getting worse. Bordering countries have seen a huge sudden increase of over 140,000 refuges in just the last six weeks. Furthermore, on Wednesday The UN predicted that if things don’t calm down in Syria and the ugly Civil War does not end soon, the number of Syrian refuges could explode to over 1.1 million by early summer.

As winter blankets Syria and her neighbors, the conditions at the refuge camps are grim. In some camps, women and children represent over 75% of the refugees such as in Zaatari, Jordan, which has 30,000 refugees at the moment. Families are struggling to survive and feed their families, living in tents under the freezing cold conditions with sadly no end of their desperate situation in sight.

Fortunately NGO’s such as World Food Programme (WFP) is there to help. The WFP has worked alongside the UNHCR (The United Nation’s Refugee Arm) to provide a regular supply of food to the families. While UNHCR is distributing such necessary supplies as blankets for fuel and cooking, the WFP has been supplying “dry rations” over the winter months that refugees can cook themselves. The Dry rations include rice, bulgur, wheat, yellow split peas, sugar and salt, which are provided along with a daily allotment of bread.

In the Zaatari refugee camp alone, over 100 communal kitchens have been built that services 30,000 people. The UNHCR is working to build more in order to ensure everyone has access. But the cold, cruel wind of winter is making situations miserable for many.

Meanwhile inside Syria, food insecurity is on the rise due to bread shortages and higher food prices, leaving millions of Syrians in desperate conditions and may lead to more people leaving the country and entering the already over-crowded refuge camps.

It is not a good situation, but you can help. Simply share this video to raise awareness or make a small donation to the World Food Programme that can help feed a family and save a life.

This post was written on behalf of the Global Team of 200. Information above is provided by the WFP as well as research on the web. To learn more about the World Food Programme’s work, click here.

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“Save a Life this Christmas”: An alternative gift from Maternity Worldwide

“We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” – Paulo Coelho


Photo credit: Maternity Worldwide

The figures are startling. Every year around the world 287,000 women die in what should be the most joyous time of life: Having a baby. That means one woman dies every 2 minutes or 800 a day, during pregnancy and childbirth.

As a mother of two children who suffered two high-risk births, I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be pregnant in a developing nation. It is not surprising that the majority of women (over 56% of the total) who die are in sub-Saharan Africa, a region of the world that is engulfed in extreme poverty. When you compare the mortality rates to women in the Western world, 99% of all deaths take place in the developing world.

In Ethiopia alone, one of the poorest countries in the world, 90% of women give birth at home and for every 100,000 women who give birth in the country, 676 women die from delivery and childbirth complications. Further accentuating the problem in the fact that Ethiopian women, who have little or no access to family planning or contraception, have on average 4.8 babies who survive. These numbers alone put women at high risk of dying and not living to see their babies grow up or raise the others.

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On the ground in Ethiopia

This week, Jennifer James, the founder of Global Team of 200, who I’m honored to write for, is on the ground in Ethiopia learning all about the issues Frontline Health Care Workers face in one of the poorest countries of the world. Jennifer is in Ethiopia along with three distinguished US nurses on behalf of Save the Children. Back in September, I had written a post about Save the Children’s campaign “Every Beat Matters” (to read post, click here). I was extremely touched by this campaign and what Save the Children is doing to help save lives. Jennifer published her first account of day one in Ethiopia today on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s blog “Impatient Optimists“. I asked Jennifer if I could share her story here as well and she was thrilled. 


A woman has her child vaccinated by a Health Extension Work at the Germana Health Post in Ethiopia. Photo credit: Impatient Optimists


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