The contagious air of optimism and excitement at many of our vitamin distributions is universal, independent of language or tradition. Mothers, with little ones in tow, frequently express their gratitude and joy during the brief moments they spend with us. Even if they don’t fully comprehend the technicalities behind our work, they know that it ultimately helps their children have healthier futures. And that knowledge is what compels them to come en masse – to travel great distances, to delay the day’s chores, to wait in line with their squirming children. It’s what makes their anticipation and renewed dreams for the future nearly tangible, conveyed through broad smiles and excited, buzzing conversations.
Not all of the mothers who cross our path express this joviality, though. They may understand the benefits of our vitamins – they wouldn’t attend distributions if they didn’t – but some appear stoic and even distant at times. They acknowledge questions from our field partners with little more than nods or one-word answers, solemnly following directions to hold their child’s mouth open for vitamin doses. It’s clear that while renewed prospects for their children’s health provide comfort, they don’t erase the residual effects of lifelong hardships. After years of labor and sacrifice, reasons to smile, laugh and dream are not always easy to come by.