Christy Turlington and CARE

Circles Of Life


What goes around comes around, right? I'm talking about how often life circles around to the same spots, issues and lessons again and again making so many points of connection. This happens more often after we become parents than before as we see ways our lives are connected to our own mothers and fathers in ways we never previously realized. We start out as brand new mothers thinking we're the first to ever go through anything so miraculous and quickly learn, we're connected to Motherhood with a capital M. Motherhood at Large. We're repeating patterns, cycles and circles that are happening all over the world.

This week I talked on the phone for a good long time with Christy Turlington Burns; businesswoman, mother, model, writer and CARE ambassador for maternal health. We chatted about my upcoming trip to Peru where I'll follow in her footsteps through villages where maternal health care has been upgraded by CARE and about our own experiences as mothers and daughters.

I asked Christy about her first trip with CARE. She told me she was pregnant with her first child and as a life-time world traveler, had no worries about traveling to far away, undeveloped countries while expecting her first baby. "My mother was an airline attendant and my father, a pilot. Travel is in my blood. My mom left her career when we were kids but was always involved in volunteer and charitable activities. Of course, as a teenager, I didn't see how important that was. Now, it's such a huge part of my own life. My mom is from El Salvador which gives me the unique genetic makeup that adds to my appeal as a model."

When CARE tagged Christy to make a trip with them, they had a hard time nailing down a location. "We initially planned on El Salvador but that trip stalled out and other locations were suggested. One by one, each trip hit a snag until finally, we decided to make El Salvador work. I felt like I just wanted to get going, get involved, before I was too pregnant to travel. The trip focused a lot on water issues and here I was pregnant, in my mother's country, healthy and safe and meeting pregnant women who couldn't even get clean water. The affect it had on me was profound."

Christy and I talked about how fortunate we are to have had our children in the USA, where the worst we'd faced was a little traffic on the way to the hospital. The women she met in El Salvador, if they ran into any type of emergency during their births, may have to travel by foot for hours. One of the biggest emergencies that threatens women's lives in developing countries is bleeding after delivery. If they survive that, the loss of blood frequently causes decreased milk production and breast feeding difficulties. Which means they have to rely on formula to feed their babies. If they can get their hands on formula, they have to mix it with water. They may have to walk for miles and hours to get that water which may or may not be clean. And now we're right back at the water project in El Salvador that so impressed Christy, she was inspired to continue working with CARE. El Salvador, where she was pregnant with her first, in her mother's homeland. She talked about her father and how his illness and death from cancer spurred her interest in getting active in promoting health and in using her celebrity to make a difference in the lives of others. CARE gave her a solid outlet for making that difference.

I teared up as we talked about this because though I was healthy during all my births, I got seriously sick with cancer after having my fourth child. I couldn't breastfeed after my daughter was three months old and had to use formula. It was expensive and a hassle after so many years of breastfeeding my other babies. Thank God for clean water and a nice supply of formula at every market. I got teary because here I am, eight years later, healthy as can be, getting ready for my first trip with CARE. To South America where my sister lived and delivered my niece before my sister got cancer and moved back to the US with her daughter to live with me. Before she died. Her daughter is now my "fourth daughter." Our mother passed away long ago but as I make my first trip with CARE, I'm secretly jealous that Christy got to make her trip to Peru with her mother. Oh so many circles in life. I can't wait to see what circles await me in Peru next week.

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