Who cares what it smells like? It's what it sounds like that matters.
Some 75 years ago, in bombed-out Frankfurt, Germany, a little girl named Marlene Mahta received a sign of hope in the midst of squalor, homelessness and starvation. A CARE Package containing soap, milk powder, flour, blankets and other necessities provided a lifeline through the contributions of average American families. There were even luxuries like chocolate bars.
World War II may have ended, but its devastation lingered. Between 35 and 60 million people died. Whole cities had been destroyed, the countryside was charred and burned, and at least 60 million European civilians had been made homeless. Hunger remained an issue for many families for years to come. In the face of this devastation, 22 American organizations decided to come together and do something about it: creating CARE Packages for survivors.
"What affected me… was hearing that these were gifts from average American people," remembers Mahta, who, in those desperate days, found herself picking through garbage cans to find leftover field rations and MREs to eat. Inspired by the unexpected kindness, Mahta eventually learned English and emigrated to the U.S.
"I wanted to be like those wonderful, generous people," she says.
The postwar Marshall Plan era was a time of "great moral clarity," says Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE, the global anti-poverty organization that emerged from those simple beginnings. "The CARE Package itself – in its simplicity and directness – continues to guide CARE's operational faith in the enduring power of local leadership – of simply giving people the opportunity to support their families and then their communities."
Each CARE Package contained rations that had once been reserved for soldiers, but were now being redirected to civilians who had suffered as a result of the conflict. The packages cost $10 to send, and they were guaranteed to arrive at their destination within four months.
Thousands of Americans, including President Harry S. Truman, got involved, and on May 11, 1946, the first 15,000 packages were sent to Le Havre in France, a port badly battered during the war.
Thousands of additional CARE Packages soon followed. At first packages were sent to specific recipients, but over time donations came in for anyone in need. When war rations ran out American companies began donating food. Later, carpentry tools, blankets, clothes, books, school supplies, and medicine were included.
Before long, the CARE Packages were going to other communities in need around the world, including Asia and Latin America. Ultimately, CARE delivered packages to 100 million families around the world.
The original CARE Packages were phased out in the late 1960s, though they were revived when specific needs arose, such as when former Soviet Union republics needed relief, or after the Bosnian War. Meanwhile, CARE transformed. Now, instead of physical boxes, it invests in programs for sustainable change, such as setting up nutrition centers, Village Savings and Loan Associations, educational programs, agroforestry initiatives, and much more.
But, with a pandemic ravaging populations around the world, CARE is bringing back its original CARE packages to support the critical basic needs of our global neighbors. And for the first time, they're also delivering CARE packages here at home in the United States to communities in need.
Community leaders like Janice Dixon are on the front lines of that effort. Dixon, president and CEO of Community Outreach in Action in Jonesboro, Ga., now sends up to 80 CARE packages each week to those in need due to COVID-19. Food pantries have been available, she notes, but they've been difficult to access for those without cars, and public transportation is spotty in suburban Atlanta.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook," says Dixon. For example, one of those calls was from a senior diabetic, she remembers, who faced an impossible choice, but was able to purchase medicine because food was being provided by CARE.
Today, CARE is sending new packages with financial support and messages of hope to frontline medical workers, caregivers, essential workers, and individuals in need in more than 60 countries, including the U.S. Anyone can now go to carepackage.org to send targeted help around the world. Packages focus on helping vaccines reach people more quickly, tackling food insecurity, educational disparities, global poverty, and domestic violence, as well as providing hygiene kits to those in need.
From the very beginning, CARE received the support of presidents, with Hollywood luminaries like Rita Hayworth and Ingrid Bergman also adding their voices. At An Evening With CARE, happening this Tuesday, May 11, notable names will turn out again as the organization celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the CARE Package and the exciting, meaningful work that lies ahead. The event will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.
Motherhood is a journey unlike any other, and one that is nearly impossible to prepare for. No matter how many parenting books you read, how many people you talk to, how many articles you peruse before having kids, your children will emerge as completely unique creatures who impact your world in ways you could never have anticipated.
Those of us who have been parenting for a while have some wisdom to share from experience. Not that older moms know everything, of course, but hindsight can offer some perspective that's hard to find when you're in the thick of early motherhood.
Upworthy asked our readers who are moms what they wish they could tell their younger selves about motherhood, and the responses were both honest and wholesome. Here's what they said:
Lighten up. Don't sweat the small stuff.
One of the most common responses was to stop worrying about the little things so much, try to be present with your kids, and enjoy the time you have with them:
"Relax and enjoy them. If your house is a mess, so be it. Stay in the moment as they are temporary..more so than you think, sometimes. We lost our beautiful boy to cancer 15+yrs ago. I loved him more than life itself.. "- Janet
"Don't worry about the dishes, laundry and other chores. Read the kids another book. Go outside and make a mud pie. Throw the baseball around a little longer. Color another picture. Take more pictures and make sure you are in the pictures too! My babies are 19 and 17 and I would give anything to relive an ordinary Saturday from 15 years ago." - Emma H.
"Spend more time just listening, even when what they say is the same thing over and over again! Some of my funniest memories were conversations I had with my kiddos...sad to think I may have missed something because I was so distracted with other things." - Mysti R.
"Relax a little. You don't need to spend every moment terrified. I wish I had known they were going to become responsible, productive adults so I could have just enjoyed their childhood." - Amy S.
"I wish I had learned to pick my battles when my kids were younger. You want to wear that same super hero outfit 3 days in a row? Fine. As long as you wash and brush your teeth. *Now, as a grandma, this is the advice I give my daughter most often. Stop stressing about all the little things." - Debbie P.
"It's almost never, EVER as big of a deal as you think it is. The spills, the broken things, the bickering, the pickiness at dinner time.... it's going to be fine. Chill." - Becca L.
"Spend more time making good memories and let the little mistakes be ignored. The housework and laundry will still be there. If they ask you to do something, do it now, before they don't ask anymore because they have things to do with their friends. Love them, hug them and tell them you love them often!" - Diane S.
Take care of yourself, psychologically and physically.
There are a couple of angles here that are important for moms. One is to get help with your own childhood traumas because they'll definitely become apparent to you when you have kids of your own.
"Go to therapy and work on those childhood traumas before having kids." - Melissa P.
"Generational trauma is real! Take some classes! Work on yourself before you have kids." - Cherry S.
And two, don't ignore your own needs. It's okay to take time for basic self-care.
"Put the baby down, let her cry a bit, go to the bathroom, take a shower, change your clothes, eat something healthy and she'll still grow up to be normal." - Chetna F.
Don't let the "enjoy every moment" advice derail you.
One of the most common refrains moms of young kids hear from older moms is "Enjoy every second! It goes by so fast!" and many of the commenters in our post said just that. The problem is it's not really possible to enjoy every second of motherhood, and it doesn't feel like it goes by fast when you're in the thick of it. For moms who are deep in the adorable but messy, sleep-deprived, relentless baby and toddler stage, "enjoy every moment" is not always helpful advice, even if it's coming from a place of knowing how quickly it passes.
These comments provided a nice balanced approach to this advice, acknowledging that the days are long but the years are short:
"'Don't wish away their childhoods.' My mother-in-law said this to me. I remember always thinking it will be easier when they can sit up, walk, read on their own....and so on...because it was so 'busy' raising 3 kids who were so close in age. Now they are all grown up and have moved away to their own lives and it certainly is not 'busy' here anymore. Miss those days." - Karen R.
"Yes, enjoy the time, as it goes by so fast; however, be patient with yourself as you are only human. If you are doing what is best for your child, and are trying to parent in a loving, responsible manner, no one is able to do it perfectly. Be patient with yourself as well as your kiddos." - Judy N.
"Unpopular opinion, it's ok to not enjoy every moment. Some of the moments of motherhood are hard, like gut wrenching, soul sucking, exhaustingly hard. And it's ok to not enjoy those moments. Do enjoy the giggles, the smiles, the milestones, the growth, the hugs, the kisses, the sweet sound of their voices, but don't feel guilty for not enjoying every minute. " - Nicole W.
Real talk—it's actually wicked hard sometimes.
Some moms wished they could tell themselves that it would be harder than they thought and that it's okay to talk about that. So often, moms feel like they can't talk about the hard parts because of course we love our children and what kind of mother complains about the precious gift of motherhood?
While we share the immense, intense joy that often accompanies motherhood, we also should be real about the less-than-magical experiences as well. The exhaustion alone—phew. And when you have a particularly challenging phase—or a particularly challenging child—motherhood is not all sunshine and roses.
"All the things that were 'hidden' or 'unspoken' about motherhood... how hard it would all be, that it is not automatic magic and joy, that conception doesn't just happen, how real postpartum depression is, and how misleading it is to pretend everything is perfect and you couldn't be happier (and how much shame we carry because it isn't)." - Rachel J.
"Exactly what my mother told me… You are going to be tired for the rest of your life ." - Francesca A.
"It's the most exhausting underappreciated, and beautiful thing you'll ever do in your life." - Kathleen G.
Take photos. Keep the goal in mind. Pace yourself. You're doing great.
There were so many great tidbits of wisdom—here are a few to tuck in your pocket:
"Take pictures with your kids, not of them. These are the photos they will cherish and pass down for generations." - Teresa C.
"Try to remember that the goal is to raise adults, not eternal children, so encourage their creativity, their independence, their empathy for others, their kindness." - Louise W.
"It is everything you wish for and nothing you expected. Enjoy sleeping in now cause later you're not gonna want to miss a beat. Motherhood is a marathon not a sprint. Be good to you. " - Karytza M.
"I would say slow down and take it all in. Relax, things don't need to be perfect and everything will work out. Your baby WILL sleep, you won't lose your mind (much ) and it will be in the past sooner than you realize and you can't get it back so do your best to enjoy the beautiful moments. And you're doing GREAT!" - Tusha W.
You are doing great, mamas. Keep calm (or at least try to) and carry on.
The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.
Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.
Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.
Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash
The international nonprofit
CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.
"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."
Nunn believes a comprehensive vaccination program needs to be sufficiently funded to not only acquire enough vaccines to inoculate people who may be missed otherwise, but also to ensure transportation, delivery, and administration of the vaccines. For every $1 in supply, $5 is required for delivery costs, she says.
"2021 finds us at a crossroads. One road leads from pandemic to endemic – and what some may see as 'acceptable apathy' where the lives of the vulnerable in low-income countries are deemed less valuable... "The other road is built on understanding the true cost of vaccines and the human cost of failing to deliver vaccines to the most vulnerable, and a joint commitment by all who walk it together to equity, equality, and human dignity. Our destination is a place where each of us is safe because all of us are safe," says Nunn.
The best interests of everyone on the planet are served by an investment in comprehensive global vaccination. For 75 years, CARE has been doing lifesaving work in the global community—and while the fight against Covid is far from over, the organization invites everyone to commemorate just how far we've come.
On Tuesday, May 11, CARE will host An Evening With CARE with Whoopi Goldberg and attended by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, as well as Angela Merkel, Iman, Jewel, Michelle Williams, Katherine McPhee-Foster, Betty Who and others, to mark the 75th anniversary of this amazing organization and take stock of the work that lies ahead. Please RSVP now for this can't-miss opportunity.