Attitude of Gratitude

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say THANK YOU! To all who read my blog, comment, message me privately and for all the people now taking part in the #100happydays project (it wasn’t my genius idea unfortunately but I’m a huge fan)…thank you!

I was looking through my stats this morning and see readers from Romania, Uganda and Tunisia. The world wide web never ceases to amaze me. I don’t know anyone in Uganda and yet mama duck had 17 views from there yesterday. It’s pretty amazing how small the online world is and how interconnected we all are.

I started my blog with the idea to share resources, opinions and make a difference to people. I hope that I’m managing to do that in some way.

Thanks again 🙂

 

 

 

RIP Nelson Mandela

As I was watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral today, a few things occurred to me. I’m sure he realised how important he was and how much he was loved and respected. I’ve always thought it’s really important to let a person know how you feel about them and the impact they have had on your life. Without trying to sound morbid, you never want it to be too late and regret not telling them.

The other thing that crossed my mind was that here is this amazing man who sacrificed so much of himself and his family for his country. I wondered, would he have been the man he was if he hadn’t gone to prison? He was of course always a man of courage and honour. He was jailed because he was fighting for the end of apartheid and the division of blacks and whites in South Africa. His reason for being put in jail was unjust in the first place. But was it 27 years in an African jail that spurred him on to go out there, become the first South African black president and make such a difference? Would he have been the accomplished man that he was if he hadn’t been through those 27 horrendous years? Does the end justify the means?

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So often when something we perceive as negative happens to us, we sit and brood on it. We feel sorry for ourselves, we whine and complain. We could of course be a lot worse off but we often don’t see that. It’s so easy to drown in a pool of self pity until we have someone reach down and help us out of it.

Here is a man who had 27 of his 95 years taken from him and he still made a difference. Even in his passing he is put on a pedestal and honoured. He didn’t let a 27 year speed bump stop him from achieving what he was destined to do. So today I say RIP Tata Madiba. I will remember you not just for the difference you made in the lives of millions of South Africans but for your sheer determination and will to let no obstacle stand in your way.

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Some of my favourite quotes by Mandela:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Inspiring Mama Series: Samar Shaheryar & Alicia Wieser

Samar Shaheryar & Alicia Wieser

The story of friends, Samar and Alicia is quite a similar one. Allie and her husband are college sweethearts and were living in NYC before moving to Asia. Samar met and married her husband in NYC before moving out to Asia. Both women were working in finance before their husband’s jobs took them to Tokyo.

While there, they founded “Tokyo Helps”, a non-profit group to raise money for special causes. In the winter of 2010, Allie moved to Hong Kong and Samar soon followed in the summer of 2011, after the Japan Earthquake & Tsunami. Both ladies loved Tokyo but have since grown to love Hong Kong as much. In Tokyo they organised fundraisers for Pakistan & Haiti and in Hong Kong they continued to do so, raising money for Japan & East Africa.

But that wasn’t enough. In 2012, they wanted to create something that was more sustainable in a business sense. Baby Hero was conceived. They had decided to create a baby product that funded maternal and infant health. And as it is when something is meant to be, all the pieces of the puzzle fell together. A friend posted on Facebook about her husband’s friend (Dr. Shaun Morris) who was looking for a grant to help with maternal health in Pakistan. The ladies immediately got on Skype with him and started brainstorming how they were going to work together.

The idea behind Baby Hero is to provide essential wearable onsies and toddler t-shirts made out of the finest organic cotton. For every onsie and t-shirt sold, a clean birth kit is given to a mother in need and life-saving medical products to her baby.

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NM: Where did the name Baby Hero come from? I’m also intruiged by your website address. www.babyhe.ro

BH: We were discussing our idea over lunch with a particularly creative friend, Unum Muneer, and she suggested a social media campaign where parents could post photos of their babies in our clothes on Facebook: “My baby is a hero!” We loved it immediately especially as it not only references those wearing our clothes but also all the heroic babies who survive and thrive in unimaginably difficult circumstances around the world.

Website address is us staying true to our social entrepreneurship goals and keeping costs low. By using a little used domain (in this case Romania), we were able to avoid the high fee to purchase a .com and also generate a bit of interest/buzz around our website.

NM: What is your vision for the next 2 years?

BH: Our aim with Baby Hero is to bring giving into people’s daily life. Every time they purchase a Baby Hero product they set in motion an action that has the potential to save the life of a mother or baby. Over the next two years and beyond, we want to positively impact as many families as possible – make our Maternal and Newborn Care Kit available in all the areas in which maternal and infant mortality are particularly high due to lack of medical facilities and also continue to explore and fund other low-cost medical interventions. The way we achieve this goal is to continue to expand our product offerings, reach consumers globally and stay true to our vision for a completely ethical brand made with 100% organic fabric using fair-labor.

NM: Even with the existence of several NGO’s and charities, the infant mortality rate remains high, especially in Africa and South Asia. Why is this?

BH: This is a very good question. It is an issue of scale and weak healthcare systems especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Infant and maternal mortality solutions are harder to scale up as they often require multiple remedies, greater equipment or expertise. This is why we, and Dr. Shaun Morris, our partner who developed the Maternal and Newborn Care Kit we are funding, believe it can be so effective. While there is evidence that all the low-cost and easy to use interventions included in the Kit improve infant health, no one has packaged them together in precisely this way. We anticipate the Kit will reduce newborn mortality in the study population in Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan by up to 40%.  To determine if we can actually achieve this benefit, we are conducting a randomized controlled trial.  If our trial is successful, we would then take steps to scale up delivery of the kit to a wider population.  One of the problems with ‘aid’ in the past is that interventions have often not been properly studied and sometimes the impact is quite a bit different than had been anticipated. As the Kit is cheap, effective and easily portable, it is very scalable and can even be funded and implemented by the local community once aid groups step back.

NM: I love the idea behind the factory you work with. Could you tell my readers a bit about how the factory you work with also plays into your vision for women.

BH: We love the factory we are working with in India too! Assisi Garments is an organic, fair-trade factory in Southern India founded by Franciscan Nuns. Many of the women it employs come from disadvantaged backgrounds – widows who carry a great stigma in the local community, women who have been abused or are otherwise on the margins of society. They also employ disabled workers. All their employees work in safe conditions and are paid a decent living wage. When you buy one of our garments, you are positively impacting so many lives – the organic farmers and cotton producers, the workers at the factory who are being paid and treated fairly and of course the families who receive our Kit and whose mothers and children will lead healthier lives as a result of it. This to us is the perfect circle and the only way to do business – to take care of our planet by choosing an eco-friendly fiber, by taking care of our fellow human beings by making sure to use fair labour and giving back through our product and to do it all while remaining an economically sustainable business. Our goal is to eventually have our own fair-trade factory that boosts the local economy in the areas in which we are distributing the Kit. This is how you start to level the playing field and eradicate poverty – economic self-sufficiency and aid working together.

NM: For those of us who don’t live in Hong Kong, can we buy Baby Hero onsies and toddler t-shirts online?

BH: YES! We ship internationally – everywhere. And we’re currently working on our Spring/Summer line – expanding our offerings – so keep an eye out for more products!

If you’d like to get involved or donate, please visit http://babyhe.ro/pages/get-involved

To buy one of these adorable onsies and t-shirts, visit their online shop.

With Baby Hero, you can make a life saving difference to a mother and child in need.

Inspiring Mama Series: Rosemarie Siggins

Rosemarie Siggins (nee Homan) was born with ‘Sacral Agenesis’, a rare condition which left her with severely deformed legs and feet pointing in an outward direction. At the age of 2, with insight from doctors and other specialists, her parents decided to amputate the lower half of her body. By the time she was 3, Rose had learnt to walk on her hands and soon after started using a skateboard to get around.

Her passion for cars led her to be a mechanic and her dad went so far as to adapt the pedals of her car so she could drive and have the freedom to get around. She got her first car (a 1974 Chevy Camaro with a 350 engine) when she was only sixteen. In 1997 she met Dave Siggins who worked at an auto parts store and they got married in 1999.

Many born with this condition end up spending their lives in a wheelchair, going through a number of surgeries and never having kids. But this inspiring mama was different. She fell pregnant and going against most doctors advice, she had two beautiful children, Luke and Shelby.

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NM: Rose, it’s an honour to feature you on the inspiring mama’s series. Life hasn’t always been easy but you have overcome pretty much every obstacle thrown at you. What motivates you?

RS: Thank you for the kind invitation. Life is hard for all sorts of people. I was just given this life so overcoming obstacles has become second nature. My upbringing has always been my motivation. My mom would never allow me to give up.  She would always tell me find away.

NM: I am of the belief that a parent’s attitude plays a great role in the attitude of their child. How did your parent’s attitude when you were younger encourage you and make a difference to your life?

RS: As I mentioned in the question above, my parents especially my mom played a vital role in my positive outlook on life. My parents supported me in whatever I wanted to do. They gave my the confidence I needed. I raise both my children the same way. I encourage them not to give up when something is hard.

NM: Tell me about your experiences having Luke & Shelby.

RS: Having Luke was easy. Compared to Shelby. With Luke, the doctors were concerned about complications with the pregnancy. For instance, since I am small and don’t have a lot of room inside me as a ‘normal female’ for the baby to grow. The doctors worried as the baby grew it would compromise my lungs and make breathing a challenge for me. Also, doctors worried about the baby not growing to a full size and it having health issues when the baby was born. For example, lung issues and mental challenges due to its small size. I was very lucky with my first pregnancy. None of those issues happened. I had Luke via classical style C-section at 35 weeks. We delivered early in case I experienced preterm labour.  He weighed 5lbs 8oz and 19 1/2 inches long. Normal size baby.

Seven years after having Luke I became pregnant with Shelby. Her birth was not as easy. Since my first pregnancy was without complications, the doctors kind of relaxed and so did I. About three months into my pregnancy, I started to experience vaginal bleeding more than usual. Doctors became worried that my uterus was tearing. After an ultrasound performed by the doctor, they could not figure out what was causing the bleeding. To be cautious, the doctor had me bedridden for the remainder of the pregnancy. A month later I experienced extreme pain in my abdomen. Once again I was rushed to the hospital, another ultra sound performed to see the baby was doing fine. Near the end of my second pregnancy, I started to have breathing issues. Doctors advised me to remain in the hospital for the next week as a precaution. I was glad that last week was the 35th week. Shelby weighed 4lbs 6oz and 17 inches long.

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NM: I read about your dream of your mom when you were recovering after having Shelby. Even when she wasn’t physically there for you, she was there for you. Not many are lucky enough to experience that. Can you tell my readers about that experience.

RS: I was very scared with my second pregnancy. It seemed all the fears doctors had were coming true. My mom was with me for my first pregnancy. Unfortunately, she passed away a few years after Luke was born. So, I no longer had her here to help calm me during the second pregnancy. I had a dream that felt so real. She came to me in the middle of the night when I was bedridden. She told me everything would be fine. She was watching over the baby from above. She said she would be in the operating room to make sure everything went smoothly. I felt better about what she said. I found the courage and faith to believe everything would be alright.

NM: Let’s talk about Dave Siggins. The man who has loved you for 14 years and stood (tall!) by your side through your pregnancies, losing your parents and still continues to do so. How has he changed your view of life?

RS: He has been my rock. Him believing in me and standing ‘tall’ by my side makes me know I can conquer anything.

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NM: Last but not least, your freedom board. My mission with this post is to help you raise money to design and build your freedom board. To date you have raised $5,530. Why is the freedom board so important to you (as opposed to a wheelchair) and what will it look like?

RS: I appreciate your generosity to help with raising funds for my Freedom Board. I am so thrilled you are creating a link allowing your readers to donate. The board is an invention of my husband. He felt since I have always rode a skateboard why stop now. So, the board will have an electric motor. The best way to kinda describe it would be the bottom of a Segway. I can sit on it and lean forward to go or lean to either side to turn. I have been raising funds for it since 2011. Every time I get so close, I do a price check on all the supplies and find out all the prices are higher. It seems like I can’t get ahead. But I am not giving up!

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Having half a body hasn’t stopped Rose from doing anything, I’m certain nothing will. Please click the link below and make a donation to make a difference.

https://apps.facebook.com/fundrazr/activity/94f89fa4c4704f229757eaa9abdb3c33

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFNyZKYqi5E

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Typhoon Yolanda – How you can help!

As I was sitting and watching the news this morning, I felt a huge lump in my throat. The devastation caused to the little Philippine island is beyond belief. Thousands of families have been displaced, people are undergoing medical surgeries without anaesthesia and women are going into labour and giving birth in a cramped room full of people.

In the face of adversity, the women of Hong Kong are standing up and making a difference. I saw a post on a HK forum this morning and I thought I’d share. Hong Kong A-Freight Ltd. is accepting donations, only goods (no money) to be shipped to charitable institutions such as ABS-CBN Foundation and GMA Kapuso Foundation in Manila.  ABS-CBN Foundation and GMA Kapuso Foundation will dispatch all the goods and boxes to the affected areas.

All you need to do is collect a box (any size) from Hong Kong A-Freight and drop it off to any of their branches. Below is a list of all their locations as well as a list of items that will be greatly appreciated.

Locations:

CENTRAL
Shops 371-372, Worldwide Plaza,
19 Des Voeux Rd., Central Hongkong
T# 2522-4253

NORTH POINT
G/F #80 Wharf Road, North Point
T# 2503-4743

AP LEI CHAU (Warehouse)
4/F Oceanic Industrial Centre, 2 Lee Lok St.
T# 3583-1810

CAUSEWAY BAY
14-B Fairview Commercial Bldg.,
27 Sugar St., Causeway Bay
T# 2504-2468

KENNEDY TOWN
21-B Hong Kong Industrial Bldg.,
444-452 Des Voeux Rd West Kennedy Town
T# 2816-6254

KOWLOON CITY
Shop B, G/F, Yue Luen Mansion, 2-4 Junction Road
T# 2383-9377

HUNG HOM
Shop F-8, 1/F Planet Square, 1-15 Tak Man St., Hung Hom
T# 2330-7112

SHATIN
Stall #95, Ground Level, Shatin Market
T# 2606-4878

LAM TIN
Shop 7-B Laguna Arcade, Laguna City
T# 2717-3302

TSUEN WAN
Shop 254 Lik Sang Plaza, Tsuen Wan
T# 2417-3339

MA ON SHAN
Shop 60, 1/F, Fu Fai Garden, Ma On Shan
T# 2697-6092

WANCHAI
1/F Galway Court, #9 Cross St., Wanchai
T# 2836-3480

YUEN LONG
Shop 5-A, 1/F, Tung Yick Bldg., Yu King Square

Items Needed:

FOOD: assorted canned goods (sardines/tuna, corned beef, luncheon meat, pork & beans), rice, bottled water, non-perishable items (canned goods, bread & biscuits, sugar, powdered milk, bottled water, etc.)

NON-FOOD: blankets, clothes, hair & skin care (bath soap, anti mosquito lotion/body oil, shampoo, comb), toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine napkin, diapers/washcloth, cotton buds, school supplies, underwear for all ages.

MEDICINE: paracetamol, anti-diarrhea medicine, medicine for coughs and colds, hydration salts, water purification tablets, medicine for prevention of leptospirosis and vitamins.

For more ways to help, please see the poster below.

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“Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.”   Mother Teresa