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Celebrating Moms Around the World


May 7, 2019

As Mother’s Day approaches, it’s our privilege to honor some of the powerful moms who are making a difference while raising the next generation of leaders. Like so many, these women are leading change around the world while serving as inspirations at home.

Take a look at a few of the women in our programs who dedicate their careers to improving their communities as they raise their children to do the same.

“If children think something sounds impossible, but they see their mom doing it, then they can do it too.”

—Dr. Mwansa Ketty Lubeya, Obama Foundation Africa Leader

The camera foucses on a man with a deep skin tone dressed in buisness attire and 2 women with deep skin tones wearing african clothing pieces as they look into the distance

In Zambia, Africa Leader DR. MWANSA KETTY LUBEYA works as a gynecologist to treat cervical cancer and improve women’s health, while caring for her five children.

“Being a mom is a strength. It’s a reason to give. I have these little people that I see, from day one, have so much hope and confidence in me. They believe in me and help push me forward.”

A group of young boys, young girls, and a woman with deep skin tone wearing colorful tops. They walk together on a brick walk way outdoors looking into the camera

“Children think, ‘If my mom can achieve this so can I. If my mom is working to change the world, so can I.'”

—Veronica Crespin-Palmer, Obama Foundation Fellow

A headshot of a woman with a medium skin tone, long brown curled hair. She smiles at a camera wearing a yellow dress.

Obama Fellow VERONICA CRESPIN-PALMER is working to ensure that marginalized communities have access to a quality education. “I want to thank my mother and grandmothers for being powerful examples of working women.”

A family of 4 takes a photo standing in open grass. A young boy with a deep medium skin tone and a blue button up, a woman with a medium skin tone and a red drees, a young girl with a deep medium skin tone wearing a blue dress, and man with a deep skin tone also wearing a blue button up.

“My mom was the first Latina vice president at her credit union and watching her break down those barriers was everything to me. For my grandmothers, one was in a gang, but eventually graduated college and became a social worker. The other overcame poverty and made a life for herself. Shoutout to these strong women for holding it down for my family. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

An image of a woman with a light skin tone and long black hair wearing a blue top while holding a baby girl with a light skin tone while she wears a pink top
An image of an older woman with a medium skin tone and culy gray hair stands next to another woman with a medium skin tone and long wavy black hair as they smile into the camera

“I want my son to be surrounded by love so he can spread love too. All I want is for him to be happy.”

—Alice Barbe, Obama Foundation Scholar

An image of a woman with a light skin tone and medium length brown hair in an all black dress grins into the distance while snapping her fingers

Obama Scholar ALICE BARBE is developing communities in France where refugees can meet each other to create meaningful connections and friendships. “Sometimes society tells us that women should either work or stay home, but that’s not the case for many. My son came to my TED talk and wouldn’t leave my arms.”

“My son has grown up with people from all nationalities because of my work in the refugee field, so there’s a lot of hope for him. Refugees are often separated from their family, and we work together to create a new one in host countries.”

A woman with a light skin tone holds a young boy with a light skin tone and behind them is a white screen with providing information about her
An image of a woman with a light skin tone wearing a black dress balances a young boy with a light skin tone wearing a red coat and holding a toy bunny outdoors on a wooden railing.

“As I see them grow into mature adults, I see them becoming.”

—Ana Maria Gonzalez-Forero, Obama Foundation Scholar

A woman with a light-medium skin tone with pink undertones takes a close up picture in a garden

In Colombia, Obama Scholar ANA MARIA GONZALEZ-FORERO works to ensure sustainable development for indigenous communities. “I hope that I embody the dreams, expectations, and values my three mother figures had for me. They all were a force of nature, who inspired what I do to address poverty and inequality in my country. But I’m especially fierce because of my grandmother who taught me to be fearless.”

Since moving to New York from Colombia, Ana Maria has found a new connection with her two children in their curiosity for the world. “I like the age that my kids are now. There’s a depth to the way we see things that I really enjoy.”  See more on Ana Maria. Opens in a new tab

A young boy with a light skin tone and black hair wears a red shirt. Next to him is a woman with a light skin tone, blue hair, and glasses wearing business attire. Lastly, another woman with a light skin tone and red glasses wears a plaid shirt. The three of them stand in front of a historic building smiling.

“Being a mom means being sleep-deprived, showered with love, showered with throw up and being equally okay with both of that.”

—Preethi Herman, Obama Foundation Fellow

A headshot of a woman with a medium skin tone, and short, black curled hair. She smiles at a camera wearing a red dress.

Obama Fellow PREETHI HERMAN is dedicated to helping women in India make their voices heard. And this year, she’s celebrating her first Mother’s Day as a mom. “Being a mom means so many things—and I think I will continue to discover that for the rest of my life. It’s looking at the situation you’re in and laughing at yourself. It’s all of the extremes.”

“My daughter has been the biggest blessing in my life. She pushes me to dip into all of my reserves of love, happiness, and patience, while making me realize how much I have to give.” Read more about Preethi.

An image of a woman with a medium skin tone smiles while she holds a baby with a light skin tone into the air outside

“I realized that I’m responsible for the world he’s growing up in. Whether I’m protecting wildlife or climate change, it’s all for him.”

—Hong Hoang, Obama Foundation Scholar

Photo of Hong Hoang

Obama Foundation Scholar HONG HOANG studies at Columbia University to strengthen and improve her work mobilizing youth leaders to push for environmental preservation in Vietnam. “In Vietnam my son wouldn’t let me go when I went to work. But I was happy because I got to spend valuable time with him. Now that I’m studying in New York for a bit, we’re long distance.”

“The one thing my mom hoped for me was to be happy. I think this is what all moms want for their children. Every time I call her she asks, ‘Are you happy? Are you happy?’ So the same goes for me. As long as my son is happy, healthy and a good person, I’m happy too.” Read more about Hong.

A young boy with a light skin tone wears a teal shirt while riding a bike. Behind him is a smiling woman with a light skin tone, and short black hair, and she wears a black top.
A woman with a light skin tone and short black hair stands in front of a chalkboard while holding a microphone. In her other hand, she holds a baby with a light skin tone. They stand together in front of a large crowd of various people

“As moms, you can’t be perfect. The most important thing is to make progress.”

—Edem Dorothy Ossai, Obama Foundation Scholar

A close up photo of a woman who is medium brown skin sitting and wearing a floral blouse with people around her

Obama Scholar EDEM DOROTHY OSSAI cares for her 4-year-old daughter while going to school, and working in child advocacy. “I must build a world where my daughter and the next generation can have the tools and resources to make a difference, so they can participate in a more meaningful way to build Africa.”

“I make mistakes all the time, but I tell myself to focus on the things that I’m doing right. Parenting is a skill.” Read more about Edem.

A woman and her daughter who are medium brown holding hands while walking wearing floral formal clothing
A picture of a woman with shoulder length twist wearing a pink shirt and her daughter who is wearing a white long sleeve smiling and they're both medium brown skin