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Supporting mothers, supporting children

26/03/2014

Some of Plan's most important partners are the millions of mothers around the world who are striving to give their children a better future, free from poverty. This Mother's Day we'd like to share just a few of their stories.

A platform to be heard

Crayson and his mother Maryam

Crayson, 12, lives in the Ifikara region of Tanzania and was born with physical disabilities. His father abandoned his mother Maryam during her pregnancy. She gave birth beside the road on the three hour walk to get to the nearest clinic. Maryam supports them financially by growing maize and vegetables, leaving her struggling to care full time for Crayson’s needs.

As Crayson got to primary school age Maryam contacted the nearest school that could cater for disabled children, but found that the fees of nearly a million Shillings a year (£397) were far out of her reach. She tried the local schools, but they all refused Crayson on the grounds of his disability.

As a result of a Plan initiative called the Children’s Platform, which allows children to realise their right to participation, Crayson has been able to go to school. Children’s Platform gives children the ability to have their opinions heard through various forms of media.

Crayson used local radio in order to ask for help and explain how he was not allowed to go to school. Plan Tanzania took his story to the education authorities to persuade them to give him a school place. Crayson now has the opportunity to become literate, learn new skills and make friends, all things that were highly unlikely without Children’s Platform.

Saving for a rainy day

Mestawet with her youngest child

“It’s difficult to get loans, but with microcredit it is straightforward,” says Mestawet, a mother of three young children who runs a small business selling umbrellas. She has been a member of the Plan-supported Mintesenot Savings Group in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia since it started two years ago.

The group currently has 14 members and is open to women who don’t have a permanent income or access to microcredit and are prepared to save weekly. So far Mestawet has taken out three loans which have helped to change her life as well as her family’s fortunes.

“The loans have allowed me to pay for my children’s school fees and school uniforms. They have also enabled me to expand my small business,” explains Mestawet. “Without microcredit, my children might have dropped out of school.”

Feeding the five senses

Some of the mothers from Maligawila, Sri Lanka

A group of mothers in a village in Maligawila in Sri Lanka took collective action to address the long standing nutrition issue that affected their children. Plan came to the village in September 2010 and conducted a health camp which nearly 200 villagers attended. Malnutrition was one of the key issues that the village children faced.

Following the camp the mothers received guidance from Plan staff and health facilitators from Plan’s programme partners. Monthly health clinics were also set up for parents to weigh their children and maintain a health record book.

“When we feed our babies, we take them outside the house and show them beautiful flowers, trees, and let them listen and enjoy the singing of birds. We show them different coloured flowers and shapes. We also give them fresh food, and vegetables that we grow in our home garden.

“At the end of the day, we put all these activities in the record book. We call this ‘feeding the five senses’. Through these activities we try to light ‘bulbs’ in the brains of our children. We constantly monitor how many bulbs we light in our children every day” says Kanchanamala, mother of three children.

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