All around the world, you can find moms – biological, adoptive, and caretakers alike – who share an unyielding desire to support their families and give their children better lives. Regardless of their starting point, it’s the upward mobility these moms are working to enable that’s important. This Mother’s Day, and every day, we’re honored to help empower moms to build better lives for themselves and for generations beyond.
We hope you enjoy these stories as much as we do.
Luisa, Hotel Housekeeper, Colombia
Luisa was a young mother in Cartagena, Colombia who struggled to get a job and support her family. She lacked formal skills training and experience, making it nearly impossible for her to find stable work. All of that changed when she was accepted into a program at the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership’s (CGEP) Acceso Training Center. Thanks to the program and an accompanying scholarship, Luisa received the training she needed to secure a job in Cartagena’s expanding hospitality sector.
Today, she is a proud hotel housekeeper who can now support her family. The program not only taught her the technical skills she needed for the job, but also interpersonal skills like leadership, hard work, and the importance of honesty – lessons that Luisa said she is now passing on to her children.
Tania Sylvert, Employee at Papillon Enterprise, Haiti
Tania Sylvert became a mother at 16 and became a single mother shortly after that when the father of her baby passed away, leaving her with the sole responsibility of providing for her daughter. Finding a job was not easy because Tania has no formal training and had to quit school after ninth grade to take care of her baby. This was compounded by the fact that she also needed someone to take care of her child during work, so she either needed a job with day care or a high enough salary to pay for childcare. Thanks to the support of the Clinton Foundation and other partners, she was able to find this rare opportunity.
Tania now works at Papillon Enterprise, an ecologically conscious social business that employs and trains artisans to produce high quality jewelry, textiles and crafts using recycled and locally sourced materials. With the Clinton Foundation’s assistance, Papillon has been able to hire more employees, including Tania and grow their business. They have also been able to expand the services given to their employees, including day care, health insurance, as well as helping them create bank accounts. These resources are empowering artisans like Tania, who can now earn an income to support her daughter.
Gina Williams, Creative Kids Afterschool Program, Pennsylvania
Gina Williams is the mother of a high school student. She also runs the William Dick Public School Creative Kids afterschool program. This program is particularly important as the school is located in a low-income community where access to healthy food choices and physical activity are limited.
To strengthen the program and help address the region’s high obesity rate (20.4 percent), Creative Kids began working with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s (Alliance) Healthy Out-of-School Time initiative, with Gina leading their efforts. An action plan was created that focused on teacher and family engagement, enhancing healthier food choices, and increasing quality physical activity.
Gina was integral in planning and driving the action plan forward. With the Alliance’s guidance, she introduced wellness tables and fitness programs to afterschool classes; created a weekly nutrition class, healthy food tasting family events, and Alliance-recommended physical activity transition games between classes; established a half hour a day for teachers to meet and practice the physical activities they would be teaching the students, such as dance and exercise classes; and created a staff wellness program. Gina also integrated what she learned from the Alliance’s initiative into her own life and at home, so she and her family can live healthier lives. Gina’s daughter, a current high school student, was so inspired by her mom that she now volunteers and helps Gina run the afterschool programs.
Christina Mwale, Smallholder Farmer, Malawi
Christina Mwale, a smallholder farmer with the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI), lives with her son on a small farm in Malawi. With each harvest, Christina hoped that she would finally grow enough crops to support her family and earn an income. But more often than not, the harvests would yield less than before.
With the help of CDI, Christina was able to learn new farming techniques that have helped her improve the quality and quantity of her crops, and increase her earnings. Her new income has enabled her to move her family into a new house. And she is also using her money to purchase land so she can generate a higher profit from her harvests in future seasons.
Christina has become a leader in her community. She finds being able to support her son and share her knowledge with other smallholder farmers in the community to be the most rewarding parts of her work.
Sharon Boyd-Struthers, Art Teacher at Rockefeller Elementary, Arkansas
Sharon Boyd-Struthers, a mother and grandmother, is an art teacher at Rockefeller Elementary in the Little Rock School District. She epitomizes the wonderful relationship that the Clinton Center staff has with educators across the community. Sharon is a regular attendee of the Clinton Center’s annual professional development workshop held in partnership with the Arkansas Arts Educators Association, which supports teachers in continuing their education. During the Clinton Center’s temporary exhibit, Chihuly, Sharon lead a summer-long program, where she taught children the art and creativity of glass fusion. Upon completion of the Chihuly exhibit, the Clinton Center was able to support Sharon and her students with the addition of a second kiln for her classroom.
She understands the important role a teacher plays in a child's life, and whether it's with her students, her children, or her grandchildren, Sharon goes out of her way to provide young people with enriching opportunities.
(Photo credit: st. Bernard project)
Evelyn Stevens, New York
Evelyn Stevens lived with her son Khepera in a home in Far Rockaway when Hurricane Sandy hit. The storm badly damaged the first floor of their home, forcing Khepera to move out. The loss of her home and Khepera moving out was devastating to Evelyn.
Evelyn quickly began to take the necessary steps to repair and rebuild her home. She received assistance from FEMA and Flood Insurance and then used that money to hire a contractor to start the reconstruction. Unfortunately, the contractor ended up being fraudulent and never started the work. Determined to rebuild a home for her and her son, Evelyn applied for aid from various nonprofit organizations. The St. Bernard Project, a CGI commitment maker and Clinton Foundation partner, answered her request to assist with the rebuilding of her home.
The St. Bernard project then partnered with the Clinton Foundation for their fourth annual Day of Action for New York and twenty-fourth Day of Action domestically and globally. At the Day of Action, Chelsea Clinton and volunteers joined the St. Bernard project to assist in rebuilding Evelyn and Khepera’s home. They hung insulation and drywall, sanded, painted, and lay flooring – all of which helped to get Evelyn and her son quickly back into a newer and safer home.