Amazing Mother: Jill

Jill in Sierra Leone. Photo: Women of Vision/World Vision

Jill in Sierra Leone.
Photo: Women of Vision/World Vision

A mother for 40 years (with 4 children and almost 5 grandchildren as one is due next month!), a MOPS mentor mom, and a world traveler who has seen World Vision at work in 7 countries, Jill Sherman is no stranger to the plight of mothers living in poverty. Yet, through her participation in World Vision’s Women of Vision movement, and her recent trip to Sierra Leone, Jill’s heart is to spread the word of what World Vision is doing on behalf of mothers and children in that poverty-stricken country. Her story is today’s Amazing Mothers story; be inspired and learn how you can participate.

What do a white suburban American woman and a rural black Sierra Leonean woman have in common? They are both mothers. And as mothers, they desire many of the same things for their children – health, education, opportunity. However, the American mom can almost take those things for granted for her children. In Sierra Leone, they are almost the stuff of dreams.

In January, 11 American women visited Sierra Leone. Most of us are associated with Women of Vision, a group which fundraises, educates and advocates for various World Vision projects around the globe. We were also privileged to have a MOPS mom traveling with us. The project we visited in Sierra Leone is part of World Vision’s Maternal & Child Health Initiative. Sierra Leone is one of the most desperately poor countries in the world, and children and women suffer disproportionately. This is the country of blood diamonds and child soldiers and vicious fighting during a 10 year long civil war. There is so much healing that still has to take place.

However, World Vision is here and making a difference. Let me give you a few snapshots of what we saw and learned. Small rural clinics – many little more than shacks – have been set up for women to come to give birth. And given the limitations, they are quite amazing. There are tables with stirrups, Apgar score charts, warning signs of preeclampsia. These small clinics make a difference in maternal and infant mortality rates. Here in the U.S., an infant death is an awful anomaly, but in Sierra Leone – far too common.

From my trip journal – “Our first stop was to visit a Community Health Worker who was checking in with a new mom and her two weeks baby girl. The CHW made sure the young woman knew the incredible importance of nursing the baby exclusively until at least 6 months. The mother was also visited during her pregnancy and taught hygiene, distress signs to look for, and given diet advice. Most moms deliver in area clinics set up just for this purpose but may have to walk up to 2 miles to get there. Try that while you are in labor! By our standards, the clinics are incredibly primitive but here they are a major improvement. In a community of almost 600, maternal mortality had been 10 women in 2 years time. Since this program has started, there have been no deaths! The worker uses pictures to teach as literacy is definitely an issue, particularly for women.”

Another entry – “Tuesday was our last day out in the ADP. In the morning, we headed out to another village just briefly. There we got to be part of a well baby check in. It was so precious. All these darling babies popped into a sling and hung from a scale! Most handled it quite complacently! Their moms were very interested in us, especially when we took their pictures and shared them. So much fun. Whenever I get to hold a baby, it is a good day!”

These were joyful hopeful moments but we also saw injured and sick little ones which broke our hearts. I smiled over a little floppy guy, taking him for a newborn, but my smile quickly faded when I found out he was 8 months old.

These are the realities of Africa. Amazing hope and resiliency in the midst of great poverty and heartache. God is here, loving His most precious people – the poor. We were privileged to be a tiny part of His work.

Photo: Women of Vision/World Vision

Photo: Women of Vision/World Vision

So what does this all have to do with MOPS? Women of Vision and MOPS have formed a partnership to connect 9000 American moms with 9000 Sierra Leonean moms. All we are asked to do is make a one time donation of $50 which will see that a mom will get the care she and her baby need. Many of you wrote messages to moms in Sierra Leone on fabric prayer flags. Those are now hanging on a wall in Sierra Leone!

Please join us in God’s work and change the life of another mom. Help fund World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative and you will help mothers like Jill create a better world for our children.

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