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ONE MOTHER's Personal Story

It seemed like a miracle to this devastated mother. In 2001, my daughter, Abbey, was diagnosed with the most common form of childhood cancer, but after 2 ½ years of chemotherapy and thanks to the best pediatric oncology doctors in the U.S., Abbey was cured.

On the same day we celebrated her life with a party, in developing countries, children were dying from diarrhea, malaria and malnutrition. I began to ask myself how can one child be cured of cancer and another die from dehydration? How can a mother accept this good fortune and not do something to help others? In my heart, I know these mothers because I know what it feels like to fear for my child’s life. This empathy for a mother beside her child’s hospital bed without medical equipment is what drove me to do something. Something inside me leapt to their aid.

I was motivated to educate myself about poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS and women’s empowerment. In 2006, I visited India with a group doing workshops for teachers addressing the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS.

We visited the Tambaram Hospital, the largest HIV/AIDS hospital in India. The hospital has separate wards for men and women. The women’s wards were strikingly empty of visitors. In India, a woman with HIV is often kicked out of her husband’s family’s house and blamed for bringing the infection to her husband and children. Children may be thrown out of the house with their mothers, or, the husband’s family could make it impossible for the children to see their moms. Widows with HIV are frequently denied property rights. Often they end up in a hospital like Tambaram to die alone.

The next day we visited an NGO that helps women with HIV. Most of the women were widows with children and made about one dollar a day. A large group of ladies, children in their laps, greeted us and showed us products they hoped to sell to support themselves. Unfortunately, the cost to ship the items they made was prohibitive. My mind churned with ideas for a product that would empower these women to sustain themselves in dignity. That’s when ONE MOTHER was birthed.

Now ten ladies make beautiful quilts and scarves from recycled saris using a traditional Indian kantha stitch. This is a central part of our program, however I believe ONE MOTHER’s most valuable assets are the women’s stories of triumph over stigma, discrimination and abuse. Lakshmi, Sasi and Karpagam offer amazing inspiration to women thousands of miles away in Denver, Berlin or Capetown. My vision empowered by this experience is to tell their stories more effectively and create opportunities for connections that help change our world.


Adepeju's picture

Absolutely beautiful! Thank

Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for deeming it fit to help put a smile on the faces of other mothers in developing countries. Thank you for craving for change and for desiring to share your joy with others who may not have been so privileged. Thank you Julie!

Julie White's picture

Thank You

Your comment is so kind and generous. Thank you for reading and sharing in my hopes.

aimeeknight's picture

Thank you Julie for sharing

Thank you Julie for sharing your amazing story. I’m so happy that your daughter Abbey is healthy and well. Your empathy is heartwarming and your courage to leap into action, inspiring. I look forward to reading more about your journey in your future posts.

"One shoe can change a life" ~ Cinderella

Julie White's picture

Thank you, Aimee. Abbey is

Thank you, Aimee. Abbey is well and I have much to be grateful for. I read your last post and want to thank you for so bravely sharing your story. I had never heard of ITP. Abbey's recovery is a testament to the value of work like Livestrong. I pray for a Lance Armstrong for ITP.

meg.peterson's picture

Incredible story and really

Incredible story and really amazing program that you started in India, thank you for sharing it. Also, I checked out the website and the products are beautiful. It's so amazing that you were able to take an idea and put into action. I hope that program like yours, that bring awareness to the discrimination faced by women with HIV/AIDS helps to decrease the stigma and allow these women, men and children to live a more fulfilling life. Your work is admirable!

Julie White's picture

Thank you for your kind

Thank you for your kind words. The program is small but a joy to me! The women, men and children dear to me.

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