MAMA OF THE MONTH - COLLEEN MITCHELL

Meet our January MOM--Colleen!  We first met Colleen at Idea Camp in Austin, TX, where a group of people from around the world had gathered to talk about “human care.”  At the heart of the conference was a goal to share stories, brainstorm ways to connect, and explore what it means to care for each other.

Colleen describes herself as a “homeschooling, jungle living, freelance writing, Pope Francis loving Catholic missionary who is beginning her third year of serving the indigenous Cabecar population in one of the most remote areas of Costa Rica.”  She, along with her husband, Greg, and five boys founded the St. Bryce Mission with the aid of local bishops.  In just a couple of years, Colleen and her family have established programs focused on food sustainability, employment opportunity, education, and maternal healthcare.

One of the things Somebody’s Mama wants to accomplish is finding ways to improve maternal healthcare around the world, so we were especially interested in Colleen’s work at the St. Francis Emmaus Hospitality Center.  Infant and maternal mortality rates among the Cabecar people are high due to the remoteness of their village and lack of access to medical care, so Colleen’s family welcomes expectant and new mothers to live for a short time in an addition to their house. (Yep, you read that right!)  While staying at the center, women and their families receive pre- and post-natal care with access to medical facilities that would be hours away if they birthed their children at home in the village.  Currently, the center can accommodate five mothers and their families at a time, and they hope to eventually expand to accommodate twenty.

Last month, we jumped at the chance to network with Colleen when she shared a story about a young mother whose milk supply was not ample enough to feed her baby, something rare among the Cabecar women, who typically breastfeed exclusively for two years with each child, and something that meant almost certain death for her baby.  Within a couple of days ten Mamas had donated $400 to purchase formula for the baby’s first year of life.  This tiny effort made a life-changing impact on a Costa Rican Mama, embodying the spirit of Mother Theresa who famously said, “We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.”

Last week, Colleen posted on Facebook that “Thanks to your help and support, baby Sabrina is thriving and was released in to well baby care at her last check up...our friends at Somebody’s Mama have ensured through their support that Noemy will be able to supplement with the formula Sabrina needs for her whole first year! The infant mortality rate among the Cabecars in five times higher than the national rate in Costa Rica and equals that in nations such as Tanzania. With your help, the St. Bryce Foundation is taking that down one baby at a time.”
When we asked Colleen what great lessons motherhood has taught her, she told us that being a mother is a gift that reflects the true nature of love in a way nothing else can.  She also takes joy in seeing how the bond of motherhood crosses boundaries and breaks down walls to help her connect with the women she serves.

Aside from loving the adventure and challenge of raising five boys, Colleen also knows the pain of losing a child at a very young age and four others through miscarriage.  Her mothering experience has been full of joy and pain, love and loss, triumph and defeat--an experience that brings into sharp focus the importance of supporting other mothers on their journeys.  About her own mother, Colleen says that she learned to nurture love and laughter in her home and to always remember to purposefully take time to care for herself and to invest in friendships.  Colleen added that even as a missionary wife and mom, she enjoys a little girly bling, bright lipstick, and shoes that make a statement.

Somebody’s Mama is blessed to call Colleen a friend and fellow Mama.  We are happy to have been able to play a small part in the success of her mission in Costa Rica and look forward to following Colleen’s journey with St. Bryce Mission.  Join us today in celebrating a life well-lived, a Mama who is the essence of all we believe about who we can be.  Brava, Mama!