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From the Executive Director: A Global Experience at the LLLI Conference

Hedy Nuriel
Executive Director
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 2, April-May 2005, p. 26.

Throughout the world, babies have the same basic needs: warmth, loving attention, security, and close contact with their mothers. And they need food. We know that THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDING tells mothers how to meet all of a baby's primary needs in one neat "package."

But a mother's needs may vary depending on her socio-economic circumstances and the support she receives from family, friends, and health care providers. If asked what she really needs, a single mother living in the inner city, without physical or emotional support, might say she needs safe hallways, schools for her older child, or peace of mind knowing the heating bill will be paid. Another mother might tell you she needs a roof that doesn't leak or a way to insulate herself against disapproval and negative comments from family. Many mothers might say they just need a little quiet time to spend with their babies without the normal demands of other children or a partner. Hearing the experiences and ideas of other mothers, LLL Leaders, and breastfeeding support workers at the La Leche League International Conference will help us learn new ways to assist and support mothers.

A Leader once told me that a mother in her LLL Group described the birth of her first child as a "cosmic experience." The mother felt she had become one with all mothers around the earth and through time. This kind of feeling can become almost tangible at an LLLI Conference, which brings mothers from all over the world together in one global breastfeeding community. And here we will have mothers from around the world who share a special kind of parenting and concern for their children.

This coming July, I will attend my very first LLLI Conference! I'm looking forward to meeting the Leaders from Israel, where I first attended an LLL meeting when I was a young mother. LLL is present in 65 countries, 30 of which will be represented at the Conference. I am very excited to meet and learn from so many mothers, Leaders, and representatives of organizations that support and protect breastfeeding around the world. For example, Randa Saadeh, MSc, RD, technical officer of the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development of the World Health Organization, will present information on the World Health Organization's response to the Tsunami in South Asia, particularly in its support for breastfeeding women affected by this disaster.

I hope many of you will be able to join me for this unique opportunity to immerse yourselves in a breastfeeding environment full of information, support, and living examples from around the world. If you are not able to attend the Conference, perhaps you can participate in some of the "virtual conference" and still get a taste of the excitement. The LLLI Technology Room will provide many opportunities for you to participate vicariously, including:

  • Live online chats with many Conference speakers;
  • Live "podcasts" (Conference information broadcast) to your personal digital assistant (Professional Data Assistant);
  • "Blogs" (online journals) written by a variety of Conference attendees;
  • Reports on sessions;
  • Photos of Conference activities and attendees;
  • Special LLL Community Network features, including a question-and-answer wiki;
  • And much more!

I hope you will take advantage of this global experience. I want to meet you! Do come up and introduce yourself at the Conference or join me for an online Community Network discussion. Talk to you soon!

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