“The hopes and dreams in a mother’s heart are the same anywhere in the world.”
This quote from Dr. Gary Parker, who runs Mercy Ships Africa, sums up the experiences of so many who work with children and families throughout the world. Dr. Gary is a surgeon who has traveled the world almost his entire career and operates primarily on facial tumors. He brings care and hope to those who have no access to medical care. Dr. Gary sees what I have also seen in my travels, that a mother will do whatever she can to help her child survive and thrive.
As we near the celebration of Mother’s Day, I think not only of the mother’s we work with in Uganda, but of my mother, Virginia Iannucci, who has been such a source of support and inspiration in my life. I know without a doubt that I would not be where I am today, or doing the work I do, without her unwavering guidance. My mom raised seven children on a shoestring. While we certainly didn’t starve, there were a lot of us to feed and she could stretch one can of tuna across nine sandwiches! My mother was fierce in the way she watched her money. I remember her saving change so that we could all take a two night trip to Lake George which was our first family vacation. She made so many of our clothes, including all of our Halloween costumes, times two, when we had to also dress as saints at Catholic school. I think her biggest sewing project was making wedding dresses for all her daughters, and all of the bridesmaids and flower girls. I watched my mother start businesses, and run them while also raising a family. She was a force of nature who has accomplished so much in her life.
The two biggest lessons I learned from my mom are that: one, if you have an idea, go for it; and two, you have an absolute responsibility to give back and help others. I think it’s this lasting legacy from my mom that gave me the courage to start the Children’s Legacy Partnership, and the unwavering belief that my mission is to help children live a better life.
As we approach Mother’s Day this year I invite you to honor your mom with a gift that will help a mother in Uganda realize the dreams she has for her child. While the work we do with children and families can be difficult at times, it has also brought great joy.
It is my sincerest hope that by giving you will experience the joy of making a profound difference in the world.