A gift for my son and for families everywhere

Brenda Flynn carrying her baby in a backpack.

Brenda Flynn was inspired to support PATH after giving birth to her youngest son, Thane. Photo: Adam Flynn.

My interest in PATH stems from a very personal experience: the arrival of my youngest child. Now nearly two years old, little Thane has golden curls, a sweet smile, a huge interest in his big brother, and a serious passion for lining up his toy cars on our kitchen table.

In 2008, I gave birth to Thane in a safe, well-stocked hospital assisted by a midwife and surrounded by the trained and capable hands of many doctors, medical students, and instructors interested in witnessing a natural delivery. The experience was just as I’d hoped it would be, without complications. Thane was born a perfectly healthy baby, and my husband and I felt extremely fortunate.

A few weeks later, I read an article about an organization that was making births safer for women in the developing world—women for whom birth is a far riskier prospect. PATH worked with a small business in Nepal to create simple clean-delivery kits, with tools women could use to protect themselves and their babies from infection during delivery.

I thought about the nurses, sterile equipment, and nearby operating room available during my labor. Then I imagined another woman, like me but laboring on a dirt floor or in a cramped room, far across the world. Perhaps she was with her mother or sister, a village midwife if she was lucky, or alone if she wasn’t so lucky. The image was sobering. It seemed unfair that I should have so much while she had so little. The simple items in the safe birthing kit—a plastic sheet, a clean razor blade, a bar of soap—might make the difference between the joy of motherhood and the sorrow of loss.

After verifying PATH’s record through Charity Navigator—PATH has four stars, the top ranking—I made a donation in honor of my safe labor and healthy son. As I thought about the possible impact from that small investment, what it could mean to one mother and one child, I decided PATH would be my charity of choice going forward.

I’ve lived and volunteered in low-resource countries, including Mozambique and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo), where I’ve seen well-intentioned projects that failed. I see the steps that PATH is taking to guarantee the success of its work. This organization finds ways to make new technologies and approaches sustainable in local communities, ensuring that people have the tools in their hands to safeguard, and improve, their own health. PATH’s projects are practical, sensible, and completely life-changing for the communities they serve.

For my son, and for families everywhere, I couldn’t imagine a better gift than this: reduce the numbers of parents who have to bury their children and reduce the numbers of children who are orphaned when they don’t have to be. Supporting PATH means I’m supporting families just like mine who deserve a fighting chance and a hopeful future starting at day 1.

Brenda Flynn lives near Boston, Massachusetts, with her husband, Adam, and two young sons, Grey and Thane.