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A mother's love

By Ben Cohen | 28 Mar 2019

Years after losing her mother, a volunteer with Tearfund Go discovers the love of another mother in Bangladesh.

Mother’s Day can be hard for Tearfund Go volunteer Emma*, who lost her mother when she was 20. However, while she was on her placement in Bangladesh, she rediscovered the joy of feeling a mother’s love...

‘I still miss my mother incredibly. She would blast R.E.M, Alison Moyet and Depeche Mode at full volume throughout the house – my love for 80’s music is definitely down to her! 

‘She rocked at being herself: always willing to be silly, totally unashamed. I feel so blessed to have had her as my mum. After she died, I never thought anything could come close to the love I received from her. 

A new home
‘Last year, something changed. In a small town in southern Bangladesh, I met Saba*. After bumping along dusty roads lined with bright green rice fields for several hours, we arrived in the small community that would be our home. 

‘Ushered into a simple, airy building, our team were introduced to the families we would be living with. Saba* introduced herself to me as “ma”, and told me I was now her daughter. Instantly I felt unconditionally loved and welcomed into her family home.

‘Living with Saba was a beautiful and unique experience. Her gentleness, courage, humility and honesty made a huge impact on my life.'
Emma

‘Over the next 12 weeks I was amazed by Saba’s authenticity. I learnt that she had moved to the community with her daughter to escape an abusive and controlling marriage. Single motherhood carries a huge stigma in Bangladesh, and Saba explained to me how she had struggled to make friends in her new community. 

‘Despite the exclusion from those around her, she taught me to love people without judgement, leaning on God every day. Being a part of her family was never about impressing anyone, but about being yourself and being accepted no matter what.

Lost in translation 
‘I think back to one particular evening, as we sat together at the dinner table. I had already eaten far more than I could handle and, after being served what felt like my hundredth plate of food, I asked her how to say “I am full” in Bengali. 

‘She replied with a puzzled look on her face. I repeated the phrase back to her and she burst into uncontrollable laughter. Saba had misunderstood my question, thinking I had asked her how to say “I am a fool”. We were laughing about it for days afterwards.

Bangladeshi women sat on ground

A community of love and acceptance for Saba.

‘Despite the language barrier, we had so many special moments and at times we were able to understand each other without any words. We shared what mattered to us and our hopes and dreams for the future. 

‘Saba told me about the joy she found in supporting vulnerable children and their families in her community, through working at the local school. As part of the placement, our team visited the school and I saw at first hand her desire to help improve the lives of those around her. 

New beginnings
‘Living with Saba was a beautiful and unique experience for me. She was an amazing mother. Her gentleness, courage, humility and honesty made a huge impact on my life. 

‘On returning to the UK I resigned from my office job, and I am now a support worker with a local housing association. Seeing her love in action has helped me to realise and pursue my own passion to care for the most vulnerable.’ 

Have your own life-changing encounter. Find out more about a Tearfund Go volunteer placement.

PLEASE PRAY
Thank you God, for the friends and strangers you bring into our lives. For men and women who are able to remind us of unconditional love and acceptance. We ask that we will be able to give that love and acceptance ourselves, imitating the love and hospitality you modelled for us in Jesus.
Amen

*Names changed to protect identities.

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Photo of Ben Cohen

Written by Ben Cohen