Ask a Volunteer
Q: Is there an observance in your country of service that recognizes mothers? How is it celebrated?
A: We do celebrate Día de la Madre here in El Salvador. In my community, the school holds an event, and all of the mothers are invited to see their kids perform small skits and dances to celebrate. There is a small meal provided for everyone, and afterward there are games and prizes. Last year I helped out in the celebration and sung “Madrecita Querida,” a ranchero song, to all the mothers. Unfortunately my own mom couldn’t be there, but I did dedicate the song to her.
Chadd Garrett, Computer Science Peace Corps Volunteer, El Salvador
A: In Guatemala El Día de la Madre is always celebrated on May 10. Like most other holidays here, the date is marked by the setting off of large numbers of fireworks, starting before dawn. Vans with loud speakers circulate through town blasting songs singing the praises of mothers. Kids make cards in school to present to their moms, and the whole family enjoys a tres leches (three milks) cake to celebrate together in the evening.
Kathryn Griffin, Advanced Business Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Guatemala
A: Malawi does celebrate Mother's Day sometime in October. It is a public holiday, so school is canceled, but Malawians don't do much to celebrate the occasion. Some children will give small gifts to their mothers: a piece of cloth (called a "chitenje," that they wear sort of like an apron), or a piece of candy. For most people, it is just a day off from work or school.
Women in Malawi are not viewed as equal citizens. The daily activities that are traditionally male are much more highly valued. Farming and doing small jobs for money are seen as very important to the success of a household and are considered to be “men’s work,” although women also do this type of work. Traditional “women’s work,” however, is almost always left to women, even in the absence of an adult female, and is considered menial. Cooking, cleaning the house, gathering firewood, doing the laundry; these activities are devalued in rural Malawi, even though the absence of electricity and running water makes them quite difficult. Imagine cooking dinner for seven people, in the pitch dark, over a fire! Imagine washing all of your clothes, even jeans, in a bucket of cold water with a bar of soap! Girls as young as five years old begin learning these chores. Young girls are also in charge of raising the children. Mothers are busy with the many daily activities, so babies are given to other children to care for as soon as they are old enough to walk, and oftentimes even sooner. Girls generally do not finish primary or secondary school because they are needed at home.
Despite all of these difficulties, women here are determined, dedicated, and steadfast. They do many jobs together as a group, such as shucking maize, and they enjoy each other’s company. They are always laughing.
The women of Malawi are very strong. They carry this country on their shoulders.
Mimi Gentry, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Malawi
A: In Madagascar, women, including mothers, are honored on March 8, which is International Women’s Day, in celebrations around the country. Women participate in parades, festivals, and dances that showcase Malagasy women and their pride. A great sense of community is shared by all during this day!
Ronda Green, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Madagascar
A: In Belize, Mother’s Day is important for celebrating and honoring mothers. There are often Mother’s Day events held in district towns and in Belize City. It is very important to honor mothers in Belize, and people are very respectful of mothers and their roles in the family.
Virginia Gordon, Elementary Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Belize
A: In Tanzania, there is no Mother’s Day, but some people celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8. I have explained Mother’s Day to a few people, namely the guys from whom I bought a handmade card to send to my mom back in the United States. When I tried to explain Mother’s Day in Swahili, they assumed I was talking about International Women’s Day, so it seems that people are at least familiar with that holiday here in Tanzania.
Katie Gillman, General Health Peace Corps Volunteer, Tanzania
A: International Women’s Day is also Mother’s Day in Mongolia. All women are celebrated on this day, but especially mothers. People give gifts to mothers and they send “Happy Women’s Day” phone messages to their friends. I was invited to a Women’s Day concert. I put on my deel (traditional Mongolian dress) and saw a wonderful performance including traditional Mongolian music, singing, dancing, and costumes. Awards and gifts were given to a number of mothers who attended. I am a senior Peace Corps Volunteer and a mom myself, with two grown children who are married.
Judy Gates, Advanced Business Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Mongolia
A: Vanuatu does recognize a public holiday called “Family Day” on December 26, and a “Children’s Day” on July 24, but there is no celebration of Mother’s Day here. Due to the lack of medical care—there are many risks associated with pregnancy and birth—you would think that women would be given medals of bravery for even considering having children!
Evan Gay, Advanced Business Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Vanuatu
A: As far as I know, there is no official Mother’s Day celebrated in Swaziland; it is celebrated officially in South Africa, so many stores are advertising “Mother’s Day Specials” and sales. Since Swaziland seems highly influenced by what happens in South Africa, it is possible that some families celebrate Mother’s Day in the urban communities.
Jennifer Gaspers, Community Health Peace Corps Volunteer, Swaziland
A: In Mexico, mothers are considered very, very important and thus highly respected by family members. Therefore, Mother’s Day is a very important day and is always celebrated on May 10. When I asked my host mother how this day is celebrated, she told me that traditionally the children come around to serenade their mothers. The children bring gifts to their mothers, and flowers are very popular. Many schools present programs where the children dance and sing and invite their mothers as special guests.
On this day, one can hardly make his or her way through the mercados (traditional Mexican markets) because so many people are there to buy flowers. It is impressive to see hundreds of men walking home with flower bouquets to give to wives or mothers. Stores have big discounts on items that would be of interest to mothers, especially clothing. Also, mothers are traditionally taken to restaurants for dinner. The restaurants are packed with people on this day.
Sonya Greegor, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Mexico
A: In Azerbaijan, there isn’t a Mother’s Day. Mothers are usually celebrated on International Women’s Day, but there’s nothing especially for mothers. I live with a family of all girls—a mom and her three daughters—and I cannot wait to introduce my host mom to Mother’s Day. Although she is a quiet woman who mostly keeps to herself, she is often my balance. She’s the most patient with my language skills; she’s the most willing to teach me about anything Azeri, and she cooks and cleans for me every day! I definitely consider her house my home-away-from-home, so why not consider her my mom-away-from-mom? She deserves recognition as a woman, but she also deserves her own, special recognition as my adopted mom.
Jaclyn Gilstrap, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Azerbaijan
A: To my understanding, there is not a Mother’s Day equivalent here in Mali, but I do believe that in spite of the status of women in this country, there is a growing recognition here of the grace, strength, and dignity of women. On March 8, Mali celebrated International Women’s Day. This created a forum for all levels of society to recognize the contribution women make to this country. There was extensive press coverage and promotional activities for all of the events. I guess this would be the closest thing that Mali has to celebrating Mother’s Day.
Luis Garzon-Negreiros, Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer, Mali
A: In Azerbaijan, they celebrate International Women's Day on March 8. People buy gifts for their teachers, their moms, their sisters, or any female they are close to. This gift does not have to be expensive; it is simply a way to show appreciation for the important women in their lives.
Jordyn Ginnity, English Education Peace Corps Volunteer, Azerbaijan
A: Mother’s Day is recognized here in Botswana, but it is not celebrated in a commercial way; there are no gifts or special events that take place to commemorate the day.
Ebony Gray, Health and Nutrition Peace Corps Volunteer, Botswana