Fatima of "African Hearts" has presented us, in appreciation, the" We Are The Mothers" prize.
Although many of our Mediterranea members are mothers, we dedicate this honour to all of the mothers in the third world. These courageous mothers who raise their children in situations of great adversity. We have to understand that many of these 5 or 6 year old " mothers" are already taking on the responsibility and the care of younger brothers and sisters of, very often, a few months old. This situation prevents these "mini" mothers from having their own childhood thus cutting short their personal development and education.
Many others become mothers far too early in life due to the tradition of child brides in Subsaharian Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
We can change this situation through education.
Through education these young girls will marry later, will learn about the different types of medical attention available to them, and will discover how to care for both themselves and any babies that they may have in the future. With all of this knowledge the percentage of child brides could drop.
Many young girls die due to child birth, premature birthing in inadequate conditions and quite simply because their body is not developed or nourished sufficiently to be childbearing. The problem is immense and for this reason Dr Hamlin (awarded the alternative nobel prize) who does tremendous work in the Addis hospital has dedicated 50 years treating obstetrics fistula.
Wherever we are working, Mediterranea always tries to lend a helping hand to all mothers in cases of need.
We try to help in Ghana collaborating with the Dangme East hospital where we have built a residence so that the mothers with hospitalised children, and the rest of their children can sleep safely. Previously, the whole family would sleep outside by the river and would be victims to crocodiles, malaria carrying mosquitoes, snakes and the local rapists.
Between our two schools in Ethiopia we have 400 children. The majority of these children just live with their mother.
In the Birhan school many of the pupils mother's earn their living by collecting firewood. This is a very arduous job because they have to carry great quantities of wood on their back but even worse it is extremely dangerous because rape is rife while these women are working. Men lie in wait for their wood-collecting victims. Many of the children who attend our schools are children born to these raped wood-collecting mothers.
Our fervent aim is to support and fight to ensure that these children do not abandon their studies due to poverty and miserable living conditions.
In both schools we have reading and writing course for adults. We have also set up courses to teach women (many of whom suffer domestic abuse) trades and a profession in order to make them self-sufficient so that they can build a better life for themselves and their children.
We are under no false illusions and are well aware that our contribution is a tiny grain of sand in a gigantic desert of need but we will not give up, we intend to keep on supporting the Third World.