This year, skip the lotions, flowers or spa gift cards for Mother’s Day and opt for an inexpensive gift that will change lives. San Francisco-based Samahope is bringing back last year’s successful #HonorYourMom campaign that crowdfunded doctors performing desperately needed medical care for mothers in developing countries. It’s a way to publicly honor your mother for all that she did for you, while funding truly life-improving surgeries in parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Where else can a simple donation of as little as $5 make you the star of Mother’s Day? Be a hero to your mom, while funding a hero to another.
Here’s how it works: Find a vintage (or maybe not-so-vintage) photo of you and your mom together. Samahope will put together a unique url for a page featuring your picture with the dedication for your mom. Your mom will receive the url on May 11 and a physical card because everyone loves receiving personal mail, especially your mom. The gallery of dedications is a beautiful way to get lost on the internet for awhile or to find some inspiration. Some of my favorites are written by sons, but I love so many of them.
There is one key step in the process: as part of the donation, you select a doctor or health practitioner whose work you want to sponsor. While donations can be tiny, a larger donation of $50 covers a birth kit.
This is where the amazing, feel-good part happens: the doctors’ life saving and life improving work is funded. In the U.S., we frequently lose sight of the risky nature of child birth. Unless you’ve had a scare or a tragedy, it seems like everyone happily gives birth, resulting in exhaustion and a healthy baby. That’s not really the case in the U.S., and it is absolutely not the case in other countries where as many as 1 in 14 women do not survive childbirth and birth injuries are common. That’s not even the infant mortality rate. The doctors Samahope helps fund really offer a chance at life for mothers and often their babies. Some of their more impactful success stories involve the treatment of fistulas, where the labor was days-long and grueling, didn’t result in a live birth, and left the mother with lasting injuries. Dr. Darius Maggi, who helped spark the Samahope program, had a 16-year-old patient who was brought to him dehydrated and losing blood after living with a rectovaginal fistula she developed four years prior (at age 12!) after being raped by a teacher, then suffering a still birth following days of brutal labor. Prior to meeting Dr. Maggi, the only medical help his patient received was a recommendation to drink herbs and sit in boiling water. Dr. Maggi was able to perform surgery that not only helped this woman survive, but allowed her to return to school.
The Samahope website is filled with many other incredible stories and a reminder that in other places, basic health care doesn’t exist and things that we think of as highly treatable, such as burns or infection, are commonly deadly to others.
Dr. Maggi was the inspiration for Samahope when founder Leila Janah met him in Sierra Leone. While he was an OB/GYN in Texas, he dedicated his retirement to building medical clinics to treat obstetric fistulas in rural Sierra Leone. Curious about his funding, Janah asked how he made it happen, and he said that he and his wife turned to friends and their church to help support each trip, with a single fistula surgery running about $1,000. It didn’t seem fair that these doctors were doing lifesaving work AND had to fundraise from their same circle of friends to make the work possible. With this inspiration, Samahope was born.
Picking a health practitioner to fund isn’t easy because they are all doing incredible work, but regardless of which one you choose, feel good because you will be helping someone who truly needs it, and beating out your siblings for favorite child status this Mother’s Day.