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A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER: Somewhere in the Mountains, there is a Mama.

Materna Foundation  / A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER: Somewhere in the Mountains, there is a Mama.

A NOTE FROM OUR FOUNDER: Somewhere in the Mountains, there is a Mama.


By: Cassie Hancock de Afane 


I have worked with women living in extreme poverty for almost seven years. I have seen a lot. 

I woke up this morning with my head spinning. Remembering faces of women that I’ve met. The 14-year-old who looked up at me with her eyes jumping out of her face and handed me her baby whose skin was so wrinkled, whose body was so thin, who wailed every time that you touched her.

The hands of a woman who had just had twins. The scrapes on her hands from cutting coffee for a pay per day that is less than what I spend on a little treat every time I leave my house. The way that she said, “I stay with him because most of the time, he works”. How she flinched when I asked if she was giving him her pay to buy his drinks. The way she said how she wanted to leave him last year and then she realized she was late and there were two on the way… so now she will have to be brave for them all. 

And how I thought she was already brave.

The tired smile of a girl whose baby “shakes”. Who said her baby was getting better when she was giving her medication… but now… now, she can’t afford it so she half-sleeps at night, worried because last time she turned blue.

The head hanging in shame and guilt of the woman who told me that she knew. She knew that coffee was not food for babies. She knew that it would hurt him. How she explained that she had tried all the tricks and pulled at her nipples to try to get him to latch and he couldn’t. How she hated herself when her oldest daughter asked, “the brown one or the white one?” – “Brown first, and then, when he cries later on, the little white one. Then, I’ll be home”.

There are hundreds of them, locked in my memory.

And then, as I got my head to stop spinning, my phone buzzed. A message from one of our most diligent community leaders in rural El Salvador who has captured the Materna mission and ran with it, serving the women in her community with all her heart.

“Somewhere in the mountains, there is a mama. A 21-year-old who gave birth to her baby boy 6 days ago. By herself. In her home. She has none of the things that she needs. We just got word at the health center this morning. Can we take her on?”

The answer is, as always, a resounding yes. 

Even when my head spins – yes. Even when the budget is low – yes. Even if it is complicated or messy or dangerous or seemingly hopeless – yes. 

Until the day that there is no longer, somewhere in the mountains, a single mama in need. 

Until every last mother and her infant have escaped extreme poverty and are free.

Category: ,
Date: February 8, 2024
Duration: 1 Day