My Journey with The 25th Team – Part 2 | UNICEF Canada: For Every Child Skip to main content

Guest poems and photos by Jennifer Toby.

The 25th Team

It was a journey

around the world

until we landed at home

with expanded horizons

Like so many of life’s journeys

it is only weeks later,

sitting quietly in the early morning sun

that I understood what it was about.

Connection to a delightful group of women

who look beyond easy, facile answers

to engage in our world with

deep respect, kindness, laughter.

Connection to unknown women;

grandmothers, mothers, daughters

wanting to do the right thing for

their families, themselves, their world.

Women in their schools,

communities, courts, clinics.

Until we saw, really saw, their lives

are different, and the same, as ours.

A babies first breath

Children’s shy jostling of delight

A sceptical look of caution and warm wisdom

hard earned over the decades

In these small sideways moments

you see the first step,

or the millionth step,


Until we realize there is

only one common story;

that we each walk through life’s

joys and sorrows; facing fears and hope,

Balancing what has been

with what is emerging.

Holding tight and letting go

as we step forward, at our own pace,

into an unknowable future.



In the Gondar hospital we squeeze

between donated NICU units

and labouring women

lined up head to toe.

When suddenly, surprisingly,

we witness a baby boy

unfurl into his first breath

Not yet rubbed clean,

his body a bud

opening into soft roundness

His lips pucker in surprise,

as his eyes find steady focus.

On us.

Each of us is equally startled,

but it’s our Monica’s face, turning,

dazzled by wonder

that’s etched into my mind


Baby born

In a place where communities

absorb each new baby as a

breathing extension into its own future,

and everything else,

from paper to small registry fees,

is in too short supply.

Governments and administrators struggle

to find ways, words, and even dance moves

to encourage parents to register the birth of their baby.

To learn more about Jennifer’s experiences with The 25th Team, click here to read Part 1.