mother's day

Mother’s Day: Honoring Our First Teacher

Take a moment to honor your mom

What’s the first thing you remember? Is your mother in the memory? Is she teaching you something? Before you started kindergarten, before you went to preschool or had your first play date, your mother was in the picture. Maybe your grandmothers were, too. Mothers shape our lives. They teach us things. Some of those things stay with us throughout our life. We pass the teachings onto our own children and, years later, we give what we’ve learned to our grandchildren. Across generations, the teachings survive.

We reached out to two CAI donors and two overseas partners to see what they remember about their mothers. We wanted to know how the women in their family inspired them to study education or to one day support an organization committed to educating children, especially girls, in remote corners of the world. What was the impact of their mother’s teachings?

Learning to value education starts early

“Mothers are the first teachers of their children,” writes Mahbuba, the country director of Central Asia Institute Tajikistan. Mahbuba’s mother taught her children to be “the best pupil of the school and then the best student of the university and thus you can be the best employee of any place you will be working in the future.”

Now it’s Mahbuba’s turn to instill the importance of education in her three children, balanced by a life of kindness, politeness, and generosity. “If your children have no good clothes to wear,” Mahbuba’s mother tells her, “it’s ok, but they must have necessary items for learning.”

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Charles, a long-time CAI supporter from Eloy, Arizona, was raised by a mother who modeled the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – planting the seed of the importance of giving back. She encouraged charity and empathy in her children, and praised them when they helped others or contributed to meaningful projects. As an adult, Charles honors his mother by looking for opportunities to serve and to love others.

Honoring a grandmother’s mandate

Sometimes it’s the grandmother who plants and nurtures the seed. “My grandmother told me it was my responsibility—my duty—to reach back and help those coming along behind me,” writes another CAI donor. Her grandmother was a second-grade teacher who also tutored adult women who hadn’t attended or finished school. “She was loving, wise, and a kin keeper. I give to CAI to honor her mandate.”

Mothers set an example

Children learn what they see and remember what they hear. The mother of Manizha, the finance officer for Central Asia Institute Tajikistan, modeled decency and intelligence for Manizha and her sister. “All the teaching in the world can be undone,” writes Manizha, “if your children watch you behave in ways that contradict what you’ve said.” Getting an education was compulsory in the family, especially for girls. Now adults, both daughters are educated and, says Manizha, “of course my mother is very proud of us.” Manizha is sharing her mother’s values by passing them along to her daughter and two sons.

On Mother’s Day, take a moment to reflect on the values you learned from your mother. Think about the ways you share those values with your children and grandchildren, and how sharing keeps the legacy alive. A special thanks to our friends for sharing their stories.

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