Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, on this Sunday, May 9, sadly there are millions of children who do not have a mother to thank for bringing them into the world, feeding them when they’re hungry and comforting them when their sick, and most importantly, loving them with all her heart.

Perhaps their mother died in childbirth, and their infant son or daughter never even got to see their mother’s face. Maybe she died of a tragic disease such as HIV/AIDS, or malaria, an untreated waterborne disease from drinking contaminated water because she had no other choice. Or perhaps she was a young, teenage mother who was not prepared for the responsibility of raising a child on her own and simply abandoned their daughter or son.

Mother’s Day as we know it began in the early 20th century in the United States as a way to honor each individual mother, motherhood itself, the maternal bonds between mother and child, and the great influence mothers have had on society.

Today, Mother’s Day is celebrated each year on the second Sunday in May, not only in the United States but in countries throughout the world, including Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe where our partners operate children’s homes to give hundreds of children every year a place to live where they are loved and treated as family – because that is who they have become.

In Kenya, Phyllis Keino, founder and director of the Lewa Children’s Home and the international spokesperson of Bread and Water for Africa®, opened her home, and her heart, to the orphaned and abandoned children in her community of Eldoret more than 30 years ago.

And since that time, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, her first compassionate step to help save but a few has grown into the children’s home which at any given time is home to roughly 100 little boys and girls, and teenagers on the verge of adulthood who have lived most, if not all, of their lives there.

Such is also the case in Zambia where our partner Angela Miyanda, founder and director of the Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre, provides a loving home for about 60 children, many of them whose their parents were victims of the AIDS epidemic – some tragically born with the virus themselves – found a home when others, even members of their own extended families shunned them and turned them away.

And in Zimbabwe, another of our longtime partners, Margaret Makambira, founder and director of the Shinga Development Trust and its Lerato Children’s Village, shares our mission of providing loving homes, three nutritious meals each day, and a warm bed to sleep in at night, medical care when they are sick and an education to give them hope for a brighter future.

In addition, in Sierra Leone where our partner Faith Healing Development Organization operates clinics with the primary focus of providing young mothers-to-be with the preventative care they need to have a successful birth, and then the follow-up care to ensure that both the mother and child are healthy and happy.

Over the past three decades Phyllis, Angela, and Margaret have become the “mothers” to thousands of children who have matured into successful adults under their caring and watchful eyes – a daunting, but a loving task made so much easier through the generosity of the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®.