Women’s History Month – “Mary and Martha” documentary review


Mary and Martha is a documentary directed by Phillip Noyce and stars Hillary Swank.  I found this gem on Amazon Prime and was deeply moved by it.

The first part of the movie starts out showing Mary, a mother, wife and business woman who begins to realize how her son is withdrawing from her and that her lifestyle might not be helping. She finds out he is being bullied in school and she wants to find a way to help. She realizes that her husband is often busy with work, she in hers and her son plays his video games. She wants to find a way to connect to him and she decides she doesn’t just want to be a mom, she wants to be an “amazing” mom for her son. So she decides she wants to take him out of school and spend six months in South Africa and homeschool him there while giving him an amazing experience. With the support of her husband who stays in the US to continue his work, she takes her son to South Africa.  Initially he doesn’t want to go but as time passes he grows into his new environment and is very happy. You watch him really embracing the experience and thrive. Without much more spoilers, the movie goes on to show how Malaria affects the population in South Africa.


Eventually Mary meets another mother, Martha, who’s son went to South Africa, and their chance meeting leads to a beautiful friendship. They decide they want to do something to help the people in Africa fight Malaria.  Again, another film that captures the possibility to make change in the world.

I smiled, I laughed  a little and I cried a lot during this film.

The talented James Wood plays Mary’s, estranged, rich and powerful father. There is a scene in the movie where she goes to him for help and he starts to rattle off numbers that absolutely took my breath away. He said:

“Did you that if you take every single person killed in terrorist act around the world in the last 20 years and you add to that all the lives lost in the Middle East since 1967, the Six Day War, and you add to that every single American life lost in Vietnam, in Korea and in every single American engagement since then –Iraq, Afghanistan. If you take all those lives and you multiply it by two, that’s the number of children that die of Malaria every single year.”

Now I am not sure where to begin to verify the accuracy of this statement but I do know it captured my attention.  Every life is important and sometimes we only focus when large numbers are present. That isn’t good but if that statistic is correct, wow…I feel deeply sad that I have only come to this problem, this late in my life. I feel some guilt. I have a lot of emotions but I think the important thing is that I focus on now, not my lack of knowledge in the past but what I can do in the present.

So inspired by this movie I have located a few organizations that are working towards eradicating Malaria. I want to know: What the current state is? What is being done? How I can help? How I can keep abreast of new developments.

So I urge you to watch the film then decide for yourself if you want to be in the dark moving forward or if you want to know more. I know I sound “preachie” but I think when you feel moved, you tend to act with more purpose.

At this time, the most effective means to prevent malaria is sleeping under a mosquito net, specifically a long-lasting insecticide treated net.

I googled Malaria Charities and found a few and then I found Give Well.org, an organization that reviews charities to see who transparent they are and if donors money is allocated well. I know, like many others, I use caution when donating to charities.  So this might be helpful.

Through them I found out that they found Against Malaria Foundation to be a fairly good charity.  Please check it out.

There are good people doing great things out there and this film was inspired by Harry and Jo Yirrell, a woman who lost her son to Malaria when he gave away his pills to save another person. She is part of a charity called Malaria No More UK.

I have more to learn but with the help of the internet that process is possible.

Have a blessed day friends!


Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World by Carrie Morgridge



Title: Every Gift Matters: How Your Passion Can Change the World
Author: Carrie Morgridge with John Perry
Copyright: May 5, 2015
Genre: non-fiction, reference
Format: e-book for review Pages: 184

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Charitable giving is on the rise in America. Despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Americans continue to give generously of their time, talent, and money – more than $335 billion in 2013, a 4.4% increase from 2011. What’s more, the bulk of that charitable giving – 72% – came not from large foundations or corporations, but from individuals making small gifts. For those with passion for a cause and a generous spirit, it’s vitally important that they leverage their gift in the right way in order to have the greatest impact possible.

In her first book EVERY GIFT MATTERS (Greenleaf; May 2015), Carrie Morgridge shares inspiring stories of powerful gifts in action showing readers how to turn the act of giving into a vehicle for positive change. Drawing on 15 years of experience supporting causes that align with her passions through gifts, Morgridge demonstrates how a smart strategy, high expectations, a deep network, and hands-on personal involvement will ensure that one’s gift is compounded over time to have the biggest impact possible.

My Thoughts:

In addition to my regular reading I now have begun to review books for publishing companies.  Most of the books I receive have not been released for the general public.  You can rest assured, I will in no way alter my reviews with this privilege of receiving ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). I will always give my honest review good or bad.

As you all may know, this year I have been educating myself on more effective ways of charitable giving.  I have given to charities in the past but not really felt the connection nor did I know if my money made a difference.  So when I saw this book, I knew I had to review it. I recently had a conversation with a family member and when I talked about some of the charities I am passionate about and expressed my plans to donate, I received the same skepticism I hear over and over.  That much of the money doesn’t even go to the recipients/cause it goes to the administration.  I proceeded to tell them that with anything else, it is important to do your research to ensure that doesn’t happen.  I now wonder if this is the reason so many don’t donate or is it a convenient excuse to forget about others in need. Maybe a little of both sometimes.  I know I am cautious but refrain from being cynical about charitable giving.

Every Gift Matters, is a great book to read if you are planning on charitable giving whether through time or money. I enjoyed it because it had a good bit of instruction on how to approach giving which I feel is important. I think it can help provide readers with a structure to create their own charitable giving. I like stuff like that. It makes it a good reference book with lists of questions to think about to help formulate your giving plan. So if you are like me and like to have pre-defined lists to help you get started this book does share some of that. I found myself highlighting to put in my own plan.

One very important thing that the author tries to convey throughout the book is that you should align your charitable giving with your passions.  Her passion is with education particularly with disadvantaged children. She provides a look at her journey to charity and then through a large list of opportunities that she has invested in with her foundation. A large portion of the book focuses on examples of her giving and the results from them. Towards the end, I did think that for some that don’t share the her passion for educational charitable giving and say for example maybe they have a passion for the environment, might wish they could see more variety. But the author is sharing her experience which can be applied to others’ passions (environment, animal right, etc.).

What I loved is the many programs and resources that she has included in her examples. I found myself keeping a list of all these organizations to look into after I completed the book.

I really enjoyed hearing her stories and the connections she has had with all the people rather than just giving and walking away, she has connected with so many people in so many special ways that it is refreshing.  It’s a good counter to all the cynicism surrounding giving.

An important point that she makes and reiterates is that you don’t have to have a foundation and donate large sums of money. Every gift matters. That it’s all the small gifts that make the difference. As long as you find your passion, make the connection to charities that share your values, do the research, talk with the people who work there then you will make profound differences in the world.

I would recommend this book which is now available and will definitely be using her advice in my endeavors. I  give it four butterflies.

Happy Reading!




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