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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.
Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?
Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.
We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.
Moms of young kids want a break.
When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.
Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.
This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.
Reader Heather W. wrote that she wanted "A night at a hotel by myself (Love my kids but after this year, everyone home plus having a baby I could use a bit of a break)." Tons of other readers concurred.
Some moms might not want or need time alone, but getting a break from the day-to-day mundane tasks of childrearing and/or housekeeping is always welcome. That's why reader Emma K. wrote that she wanted a day off: "A day where I don't have to cook or clean or think for anyone else. A day where these things still get done and not just left for the following day for me to take care of."
Tip for this stage: Clean the house, give her a short-and-sweet "Happy Mother's Day!" and then either take the kids away for a night or send her away for a night. If a night isn't possible, a big chunk of the day will suffice. Anything that will give her stress-free, guilt-free time to herself in a clean space.
Moms of tween and teens want to be appreciated.
As kids get older, the relentlessness of motherhood becomes less physical and more emotional. While moms of wee ones are physically tired, moms of middles are often emotionally drained. Older kids and teens can be a lot of fun, but they can also be oblivious to how much their mother does for them. Moms in the middle years really want to know their family sees and appreciates their years of ongoing dedication and sacrifice.
While a scrawled-out card from a little kid is super sweet, a heartfelt message from an older child is truly touching. The tween and teen years can be contentious and connections can feel tenuous as kids start preparing to leave the nest, so letting moms know that they are loved, seen, and treasured at this stage can go a long way.
Doing things around the house without being asked goes a long way too. That's huge at this stage.
Tip for this stage: Encourage older kids to communicate their love and gratitude directly to their mothers. Many don't realize how much their mom might appreciate a simple expression of appreciation. Also have them look for thing they can take off their mom's plate to help her relax.
Moms of adult children want family bonding time.
Once kids have flown the coop, what moms really want is time as a family again. Yes, it's ironic that moms want to get away when their kids are young and want nothing but togetherness when kids are older, but such is the nature of the beast. It's not that moms of younger kids don't love to have family time, it's that for many moms "family time" is most of the time. It may not always be as quality or relaxed as we want it to be, but it's still family time.
Once kids are gone, moms might relish the freedom and rejuvenation of getting plenty of alone time, and at the same time yearn for the fun family times that are now fewer and farther between. Flowers are fine, cards are nice, but for empty nest moms, a fun family outing or get-together at home is a gift.
Reader Lori C. summed it up: "My two grown boys are spending the afternoon with me. I can't wait just to be with them and talk."
And again, after the past year, this yearning is all the more relevant. As Christina S. wrote, "I haven't been able to hug my adult children in over a year because of COVID. I just want a hug."
Several moms said they wanted their family to get vaccinated for this very reason.
Tip for this stage: Coordinate a family gathering for moms of adult kids, in person if it can be done safely or virtually if that's a better option.
Moms want their own moms back.
Mother's Day isn't all sunshine and puppies; it's a hard day for a lot of people for lots of reasons.
A number of commenters said that what they really wish they could have for Mother's Day is time with their own moms who are no longer with them—a heartbreaking but real sentiment. Equally as moving are the comments from moms who don't have good relationships with their own mothers and wish they did.
These folks provide a needed reminder to treasure the relationships we have with our moms if we have them, while we have them.
Tip: Acknowledge the loss and grief some people might be feeling on Mother's Day. A special framed photo of a mom who has passed on might be appropriate. For others, a simple, "Thinking of you today, I know it's hard," message may be appreciated.
Whether a mom in your life wants a day away from family or a day filled with family, whether she wants a special creation from her kids or a day at a spa (or both), Mother's Day is her day. Ask her what an ideal day would look like to her, and then do what you can to make something like it happen for her.
Wishing all the moms out there a Happy Mother's Day! Hope you get what you want and need, whatever that means for you.
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.