Leveraging the power of motherhood to end poverty

leadership insights series May 2019


This Mother’s Day, we’re celebrating our volunteer moms at Children International – courageous, determined women who have made a shift from voiceless victims to agents of positive change. They have done it to help their children, and all children, live better lives.

Children International is fortunate to have many committed and passionate partners: Other nongovernmental organizations, private-sector businesses, governmental agencies, supporters, staff and volunteers. Together, we combine strengths, assets, passions, resources and expertise to invest in children and youth for the first two decades of their lives, break generational cycles, and end poverty … for good.

I have the privilege of leading this global humanitarian organization. We help more than 200,000 children in 10 countries find a path out of poverty through programs focused on health, education, empowerment through life skills development and employment.


Mother load

Our volunteer partners (9,000+ strong) are often mothers whose children participate in our programs in 67 community centers around the world. Many have experienced lives of oppression and abuse on top of the dismal living conditions they endure daily. When CI staff first meet these moms, they often have little confidence. With a priority to put the power in the hands of those we serve, Children International gives mothers meaningful work and a way to move from passive participants in their lives to informed and engaged agents of change in their families and communities. The grateful mothers join our work as a way to give back. They tell us they receive so much more than they ever expected and are often engaged in our programs for years or decades.


Volunteer mom at Children International

Mothers of invention

In Guatemala, mothers are trained health promoters and recently learned to use a new tool to identify children at risk of malnutrition. The program is returning early positive results we will be announcing soon. CI staff also train the moms to teach other families healthy behaviors like proper handwashing and water sanitation. Because many of the mothers and their families are not literate, they use large flip charts with illustrations to share the information. The goal is for the mothers to help others improve their conditions and learn how to access available health services in their communities.

In Barranquilla, Colombia, volunteer mom Miriam convinced the city’s mayor to include her neighborhood in the program “Barrios a la Obra,” a project to pave roads. Thanks to her efforts, the neighborhood has access to roads, which has significantly improved the quality of life for local residents.

In Quito, Ecuador, mom Jenny encouraged children and young adults to take advantage of the CI programs available, resulting in high attendance in our social and financial education program. She also became a teacher for health and nutrition education, giving personalized talks to parents on improved eating habits. As a side project, she helped establish a community garden, encouraging other local women to participate.

Our mothers’ involvement, and the way they help scope out community problems to share with field staff, is an important and inspiring aspect of the work we do at Children International.


Our volunteer partners (9,000+ strong) are often mothers whose children participate in our programs in 67 community centers around the world.

Volunteer mom at Children International

The power of motherhood to end poverty

According to the latest findings from a World Bank report, too many people around the world closely tie their financial prospects to their parents’ social status rather than to their own potential. Low expectations for upward mobility are particularly pronounced in the developing world. The study further indicates three ways to stop this generational cycle: Foster equal opportunities for children, nurture aspirations and tailor development interventions at the local level.

By investing in children and giving their mothers a dynamic role in the process and progress, Children International has found a way to increase our investment return.

Involved and empowered mothers increase our chances of breaking chains that keep families stuck in poverty. Mothers who have a voice and a purpose become role models for their kids, other children, their families and the community.

Going deeper into the positive outcomes that come from empowering mothers, the dynamics – and sometimes dysfunctions – happening in our kids’ households change for the better. Ultimately, by leveraging the power of motherhood, our work to end poverty gains a new dimension.

A core value at Children International is “human connections matter.” What human connection is more powerful than that of a mother and child? Especially when both are actively inspired by the hope of a better tomorrow.

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about making the world a place where we nurture the innate potential in ALL people. Mother Earth is counting on us.

Help empower children, mothers and entire communities today.




May 10, 2019

Such inspiring stories about our volunteer moms around the world! Enjoy and Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

May 19, 2019

Thank you to all the MOTHERS who tirelessly commit their time, talents and treasures to helping the next generation!!!

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