Mothers On a Mission To Promote Awareness at Home, Maternal Health and Clean Water Overseas

Posted on July 30, 2013, by Marina Kaneko, Half the Sky Movement

Back in 2009, Kerry Mooney forwarded along a book recommendation from her friend Ali Costalos. The book was Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, and the effect it had on Kerry and her friends, all mothers and residents of Westfield, New Jersey, has since multiplied and spread through their entire community. Shortly after reading the book, Kerry sent out a letter as a personal call to action to join her newly formed nonprofit organization called Mothers On a Mission –– or MOM for short.

In an email, Kerry, who serves as president, wrote: “MOM represents the bond in motherhood that transcends race, religion, oceans and continents. We as mothers need to teach our children and the world that women hold up half the sky. It is unacceptable for women to be raped, abused or die during childbirth. Educating women is the first line of defense.”

By prioritizing equality and justice through education and healthcare for women and children in developing countries, MOM has supported projects in communities in Ethiopia, Honduras, and now primarily in Uganda.

The MOM-sponsored charity: water well in Gebezia, Ethiopia.

Although MOM owes its successfully completed projects to numerous community supporters, at its core, it is comprised of 17 women from various backgrounds –– including teachers, nurses, lawyers, accountants, and stay-at-home moms. Their pool of talent has helped them raise $5,000 to build a well in Ethiopia with Charity: Water not once, but twice. As they await information about the location of the second well, a team of volunteers has just returned from Lira, Uganda, where they visited the maternity ward built with MOM’s support.

The newly constructed Alanyi Maternity Ward.

Through fundraising and reaching out to local schools, neighbors and sports teams in their district, MOM has championed awareness of women and girls’ health and education. From donating water bottles to local campers on the Jersey Shore and then teaching them to use it as a bank to collect donations to holding T-shirt drives and forging a connection between students in Cranford’s schools and the residents of the Our Lady of Peace Children’s Ark Orphanage in Wobulenzi, central Uganda, for these mothers on a mission, no donation is too small.

Young students wearing T-shirts from the Westfield High School lacrosse team.

Through their second fundraiser dinner and silent auction event in November 2012, which garnered a crowd of over 200 people, MOM raised over $40,000. Working with the NJ-based Mission of Mercy Uganda (MoMU), MOM donated close to half of these funds to the over forty residents of the Children’s Ark Orphanage, providing food, clothing, school supplies and school uniforms. Another large portion went towards building an operating theater and increasing capacity and functionality of the Alanyi Health Center and Maternity Ward in Lira. Women who would have previously been asked to leave the hospital days after giving birth and bike 20 miles home for lack of beds are now able to remain at the hospital and be monitored along with their babies.

From left: Sr. Faida, Kerry Mooney Ali Costalos, Ann Marie O’Donnell, Kim Fowler and Sr. Carole of "Mission of Mercy Uganda".  Sr. Carole is from Spring Lake New Jersey. Every July she leads a trip to Uganda. Sr. Faida is her Ugandan friend, and the only mid-wife at Alanyi.

MOM plans to continue holding large and small fundraisers in their community to garner support for their friends in Uganda. The women and supporters of MOM value their long-term relationships with the Children’s Ark Orphanage and the Alanyi Health Center and Maternity Ward and all of the individuals who helped them forge lasting connections with the people they are determined to help, abroad and at home.

MOM members front row from left: Ann Marie Sullivan, Laura Cioffi, Kim Fowler, Mary Giglio, Rachel Manzo. Back row from left: Sarah Langhart, Alison Reynders, Jen Forno, Jenny Melvin, Nancy Csorba, Kerry Mooney, Lesley Ann Ferris, Ali Costalos and Maureen Holland.

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