Politics

Black American Mom Travels to East Africa to Witness Tragedies and Triumphs of Kenyan Mothers

Mon., Aug. 8, 2011 9:47 AM EST
by Kathleen Cross

Karen Walrond, an African American mom, writer and photographer is one of a group of 10 American mom-bloggers who recently traveled to Kenya on a week- long trip with the ONE campaign. Their mission: to share with their readers back in the States the struggles Kenyan moms face as HIV, malaria and famine threaten their families.

The 10 Americans traveled to remote regions helping community organizations and relief workers conduct the daily business of treating and preventing infectious diseases and staving off poverty. A common theme the women came away with is that the sisterhood of motherhood breaks down barriers of language and culture, and reveals more similarities than differences in the lives of African and American moms.

Blogger Jyl Pattel asked a Kenyan mom what her greatest challenge was. “I predicted her answer would be ‘Keeping my children alive,’ wrote Pattel. “What I heard instead was the same thing I’m concerned with — ‘raising good children.’ Women around the world all have challenges. But ultimately, at our core, we have very similar concerns and needs.”

An encounter with a young mother whose children tested positive for the HIV virus left fellow traveler Amy Graff heartbroken. She blogged at BabyCenter.com, “All I could think was, ‘Please don’t be positive. Please don’t be positive. As we waited for the results of an HIV test given to two children, ages 3 and 5, I was terrified. I found myself praying … ‘Please, God. Please, God. I know you haven’t heard from me in a while, but please, don’t let it happen’ … Then second lines ran across the [test] strips. My heart sank.”

The trip held many challenges, joys and surprises for the group, including an unexpected encounter with a pride of lions. Karen Walrond writes at her blog, chookooloonks.com, “As we were driving along — you know, just minding our own business — the driver suddenly cried out. We followed his pointing finger. Lying about, showing very little interest in us, in a field right next to the road, were these:

Photo by Karen Walrond at chookooloonks.com

Karen says of the five-day trip, (which she documented with absolutely stunning photography at chookooloonks) “It was such an honor to travel with ONE to see how the organizations for which they advocate are doing incredible work supporting the people of Kenya as the country overcomes its challenges and flourishes. This was a trip of a lifetime, and one that I will never, ever forget.”

Waldren urges all of us to learn more about ONE. “To become a member of ONE, click here if you’re located in America, and click here if you’re outside the United States,” Karen’s blog urges. She adds, “ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.”

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