Afghanistan and Norway shared news headlines this week, one for better, the other for worse. Norway was ranked the best place in the world to be a mother, while Afghanistan was rated the worst.
These were the findings from a report by Save the Children, which measured the health of mothers and their children in countries around the globe. In Afghanistan, a country torn apart by years of conflict and poverty, women and their babies suffer from lack of health care and nutrition.
A sobering reminder this Mother's Day of the injustices facing the most vulnerable segment of the population, this is a tragic tale all too often repeated as mothers and children suffer the most amidst poverty and conflict. One tale illustrates this as well as any.
After a hostile force raided a village, residents were forced to seek refuge in the surrounding hillside. Some of these were pregnant women. They ended up giving birth in the cold and dark.
Another mother being forced out of her home by the same group of enemy soldiers sought to get her children who were playing at a neighbor's. It was reported that a cruel blow ended her plea.
The aftermath of the raid left ruins. Mothers and children were left in need of food, medicine, shelter, and clothing for the winter. Homes, shops, and schools had to be rebuilt.
You are now wondering: Where did all this take place? Afghanistan? No. These atrocities against mothers, children, and innocent people took place in Norway. More specifically, this was in the region of Finnmark in Northern Norway which was leveled by retreating Nazi German forces during World War II.
But through their own resilience and with help from the outside, this region rebuilt itself. Help came for mothers and their children in the form of food and medical supplies. The Allied Forces, commanded by General Dwight Eisenhower, rushed in supplies.
Charities like the Red Cross and American Relief for Norway also responded to the emergency. The latter organization came to the rescue with shipments of supplies, including a massive store of clothing they had collected for years. This was especially crucial given the region's frigid temperatures.