Recently, many voices in the media and leadership have called out and celebrated people “in the frontlines of the Coronavirus Pandemic.” However, most have failed to recognize and appreciate countless unsung heroes. These heroes, who in spite of mandated lock-downs from the government, have made a significant difference in their communities, and have advanced towards a culture which cherishes and appreciates life in all stages. Here we at IYc want to tell the story of two unsung heroes, who although across the world from each other (one in the U.S. and one in Madagascar) and in different areas of work, supported their communities despite these uncertain and trying times!
New Jersey, U.S.
During these months of lock-down, abortion clinics remained open in many states, including New Jersey. Alternatively, numerous pregnancy resource centers, shelters, and other organizations which help pregnant women and their babies, shut their doors even though their mission is to save lives, and they offer essential services and material resources to needy people. One exception is Several Sources Shelter in Ramsey, New Jersey, which decided to continue their operations.
Kathy DiFiore, president of Several Sources Shelters, founded the charitable organization in 1984. In the 36 years since then, Several Sources has counseled and sheltered countless pregnant women, saved their babies, and has aided needy families in the broader community, all deeply inspired by Mother Teresa. In 2012, Several Sources launched the Gift of Hope Sonogram Center in Englewood, in front of one of the oldest abortion clinics in the United States, where women can receive a free sonogram, counseling, and direct contact with shelters and their resources. The impact in which these centers provides is profound. In fact, research has shown that 85% of women leaning toward an abortion choose life after seeing the baby’s ultrasound, while abortion centers do not show the mothers their babies’ ultrasound photos. Moreover, Several Sources “help women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy through our a national 24-hour hotline (1-800-662-2678), which brings hopeful alternatives and resources, help finding a pregnancy resource center or a maternity home.” The organization has also helped families in the poor and highly-populous city, Newark, by feeding, clothing and sheltering thousands of homeless women and their children. Lastly, Several Sources also help pregnant women in need at the International Gift of Hope Maternity Shelter and Pregnancy Resources Center in Ukraine and Uganda.
Remaining open throughout the entire coronavirus lockdown, Several Sources has undoubtedly saved lives. Indeed, in the midst of the virus, in June, one of the young mothers at the shelters gave birth to a baby girl. Therefore, the countless shelters and pregnancy centers, which have continued operations during these tumultuous months, have not only given material resources, but have given light, hope, and faith to those who are in great need.
Saving lives is not only about helping people to give birth. It is also about feeding them. Coronavirus caused food supply limitations for many people in the world. People living in urban areas do not receive enough products from rural areas and vice versa. Happily, there are some people that remained open and available for the community and give them healthy food aiming to meet daily alimentation requirements. In Madagascar, Mofo Gasy sellers are saving a huge number of families in a daily basis facing Covid-19. Mofo means bread and Gasy stands for Malagasy. Therefore, Mofo Gasy can be translated as “Malagasy bread”. A famous traditional recipe, the dough is made of rice flour, water, sugar or honey, yeast. It can also be made with coconut milk. Variations of the recipe occur based on the local products of the regions of Madagascar. The sellers produce their own Mofo Gasy. The snack is typically eaten for breakfast accompanied with tea or coffee. The small round snacks baked in a specific mold with wood fire are often sold along roadsides. The price for a normal sized mofo gasy is 0.03 USD and for a larger version usually 0.05 USD.
Aiming to produce around 200 items minimum each day, the sellers wake up at 2:00 in the morning to start mixing the dough. They also have to prepare the hot drinks and other sweety or salty snacks, but the Mofo Gasy remains the top product. Facing the coronavirus pandemic, Mofo Gasy is accessible to everyone. The general public can afford it, even beggars. At least, we can see a Mofo Gasy seller every 3 kilometers in many cities of Madagascar. Traditionally delicious, there are special Mofo Gasy vendors in other countries such as Mauritius, France and the USA.
There are many other stories of people and institutions that saved lives during the lockdowns from all over the world. However, those inspiring stories from the USA and Madagascar lead us to always spread hope and the power of life in our respective communities.