Mother’s Day dinner out? Or, save a life in Somaliland? locator map, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Are you dining out for Mother’s Day this year? If so, join the crowd. Over 75 million Americans are expected to dine out on Sunday, according to projections by the National Restaurant Association. Mother’s Day is the most popular holiday for dining out.

Being honored isn’t the main reason so many Moms like to go out for dinner on their special day. Getting a break from cooking is the most popular reason, cited by 51% of mothers polled. Only 27% said the main reason was socializing with family and friends. A mere 16% said that creating lasting memories was the main reason for wanting to dine out.

However, for many mothers around the world, the main hope on Sunday will be surviving to see another day, scraping together enough food for a child’s meal, or not dying in childbirth. In Somaliland, a corner carved out of Somalia, a woman has a 1 in 10 lifetime risk of dying while giving birth. There are only two OB-GYNS in the whole country, says columnist Nicholas D. Kristof. 

Yesterday, Kristof profiled Edna Adan, a Somali woman who devoted her life savings, time, and energy to build and run a maternity hospital in Somaliland. Edna is one of the few lucky Somalis to get an education and study abroad. She became a nurse-midwife and served in the United Nations. “But Edna’s life dream was to open a maternity hospital,” writes Kristof. “After she retired from the United Nations in 1997, she sold her Mercedes and took her entire life savings of $300,000 to build a maternity hospital on land that had been the town dump.” A group of Americans came to her aid when money ran out, creating a tax-exempt charity to provide funds to Edna’s hospital. Imagine what would happen if millions of Americans donated to this charity instead of going out to dinner. 

What do you think of this global choice as Mother’s Day approaches?

Would you save a Somali mother’s life instead of going out to dinner?

Is that an unfair question to ask?

(Originally published at, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.)


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