Sunday, May 13 is Mother’s Day. It is a different holiday for me this year as I am now a foster mom. My foster son is a tall teenage boy from South Sudan named Ker who was blinded by his Arab slave master.
During the twenty-two year war between Sudan and South Sudan, slaves from the Christian South were taken as war booty. Ker’s Mother was taken and marched to the North, where she and Ker were made to serve Zachariah.
She slept in the garden and he was tied to the goats so that if they tried to escape he would have to wake up and tend to them.
Despite daily beatings, Ker’s mother tried to instill values in him and to teach him about his country and his people.
I think of her often.
Ker was blinded by Zachariah and then when he was useless allowed to come to his tribal home in the South. His mother was left in the North.
He came to the United States for eye surgery and now can see some colors and shapes. Most likely he will never see much more.
I love Ker, but being a mom has been challenging. It is a very hard job.
In my frequent trips to South Sudan I encounter many women who have survived the war. Most of the women have children. Some of the women are so impoverished that they only eat every other day. Other women have seen their fathers and brothers killed in their villages and others marched away.
Some of the women I work with have also been enslaved in the North. Most are trying to physically survive and cope with the scars of war, rape and other forms of abuse.
Women have told me about the stress they continue to feel. They tell me they want their children to feel safe and secure. They tell me in this current time of uncertainty that they hope war does not return to their homeland.
One mother I met had nothing. She and her three children (one was an infant) walked for seven days to a refugee camp for safety after a recent bombing at the border of the two countries. She had nothing to eat as the camp was overwhelmed with people. The good folks at Christian Solidarity International gave her a survival kit ( called a Sack Of Hope) and slipped her some money so that she would be able to purchase some seed, and feed her family in the meantime.
Recently, we began a business for women who lived through the Sudan/South Sudan war. We call it “Hearts for South Sudan.” We teach the women a form of breathing that has been shown to alleviate the post-traumatic stress and while they come to learn the breathing they make beautiful hearts out of Swarovski crystals.
We pay them for their work making the hearts and from the work they are able to feed their children. By just making two hearts a week the women can feed their families. They can be good moms to their children and re-grow a nation that saw two and a half million people killed in a war.
Being a mom, I have learned, is a tough enough job already without having to worry about where the next meal is coming from. Hearts for South Sudan helps these Mom’s feed their families without taking a handout. You can help these moms by giving your own mother a beautiful heart made by these women. Give a Heart for South Sudan. http://shop.goatsfortheoldgoat.com/.
Ellen Ratner is a Fox News contributor and Washington bureau chief for Talk Radio News Service.