In the United States, Mother’s Day is both a cherished tradition and a day of complicated emotions. It is a day to honor and be grateful for the women in our lives who nurtured and guided us, whether by birth or by choice. It’s also a difficult day for those suffering grief, hurt or estrangement in a maternal/child relationship and for women whose dream of motherhood has yet to be fulfilled, and we pray for God to bring peace and comfort to anyone walking these valleys.

At Vision Africa, Mother’s Day also brings to mind our dedication to serve the needs of mothers and motherless children in Nigeria, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Nigeria represents only 2.4 percent of the world’s population, but it contributes 10 percent of global deaths of pregnant mothers. “In Africa, there is a saying that ‘a woman who is pregnant has one foot in life and one foot in the grave,’” Vision Africa Chief Operating Officer Sarafina Nwokenta said. “It means we aren’t sure if she will survive her nine-month journey,” she continued, “and if she does, the chances aren’t good that the child will also survive, because under five (year old) deaths are high also. So, often, either the woman dies, or the child dies, or sometimes even both.” 

Vision Africa yearns to improve those tragic statistics through its focus on maternal and infant care at the Agnes Onuoha Memorial Hospital. At AOMH, women will receive care and treatment for every phase of their reproductive health from simple family planning to necessary surgery and from pre-natal care to labor and delivery and post-natal care for both mother and baby. Currently, any form of medical help is over two hours away from the area where AOMH is under construction—and that’s if the patient has access to a vehicle. That lack of medical access means many women currently die from pregnancy-related issues that are readily treatable.  The AOMH ambulance and the hospital’s proximity to a large, underserved population can mean the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of women and babies, and we can’t wait to get started.

Until we can open those doors together, though, the Motherless Babies Home in Uzuakoli, Nigeria, must often stand in for babies and young children who have lost their mothers. These children are not up for adoption. In fact, most of them have at least some known relatives nearby, but have been surrendered because there are no resources to feed or care for the babies after the deaths of their mothers. The hope is that they can be reunited with family when situations stabilize.

The Motherless Babies Home accepts no cash from the babies’ families. Everything from the salt on the table to the clothes on the kids’ backs to the minibus they use for transport comes strictly from outside donations. When improvement projects, like painting and roofing, are needed, the home relies on faith and prayer—and, often, on support from Vision Africa.

“Nobody’s taking care of these kids apart from what people are donating,” home Matron Mary Van den Corput said. “So, if I had to use one word to describe Vision Africa, it would be ‘positivity.’ Vision Africa is reaching and touching people’s lives positively. And it goes a long, long way.”  Vision Africa offers support to the home through much-needed supplies and through improvements to the physical facility, such as an electric generator and roof repairs. 

This Mother’s Day, whether you want you to honor a mother or mother figure, remember a mother or child, begin to heal an old hurt, or renew hope for a different future, you can do that through a gift to mothers and babies who are both half a world away and as close as your own heart. If you are hearing God’s call to help, click on the Donate button below, and join us in this life-changing work.