Trizer and Esther are two little girls who are very important to me. Trizer is 3 and lives in Uganda, East Africa. Esther is 8 and lives in Columbia, South America. They are my sponsor children.
I started sponsoring children through Compassion about 2 and a half years ago. The money I send each month goes towards these children and the Compassion projects that they are a part of. I send letters and photographs to the girls, and they (with the help of their project leaders) send their replies. It can sometimes be months between replies, but every time I receive a letter from one of them, my heart almost bursts with joy. I take time to read it, humbled by the strength and adaptability of these children, then I find time to write my reply to them, writing words that I hope will be of encouragement and love for these extraordinary children.
According to figures from UNICEF’s most recent State of the World’s Children Report, there are approximately 1 billion children in the world who are deprived of one or more services essential to survival and development. 101 million children are not attending primary school. 8.8 million children worldwide died before their fifth birthday in 2008. 1.2 million children have been trafficked each year since 2000.
The Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in May 2002 was historic. For the first time, the General Assembly gathered with the exclusive intent of discussing children’s issues. This session included over 400 children from more than 150 countries, as well as representatives from a wide range of civil societies devoted to children’s welfare. The purpose was to review progress since the World Summit for Children, and to shape future action towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which are intrinsically linked to the well-being of children.
The following comes from the ‘A World Fit For Children’ document, which came as an outcome of the gathering.
“We hereby call upon all members of society to join us in a global movement that will help to build a world fit for children by upholding our commitment to the following principles and objectives:
1. Put children first. In all actions related to children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
2. Eradicate poverty: invest in children. We reaffirm our vow to break the cycle of poverty within a single generation, united in the conviction that investments in children and the realization of their rights are among the most effective ways to eradicate poverty. Immediate action must be taken to eliminate the worst forms of child labour.
3. Leave no child behind. Each girl and boy is born free and equal in dignity and rights; therefore, all forms of discrimination affecting children must end.
4. Care for every child. Children must get the best possible start in life. Their survival, protection, growth and development in good health and with proper nutrition are the essential foundation of human development. We will make concerted efforts to fight infectious diseases, tackle major causes of malnutrition and nurture children in a safe environment that enables them to be physically healthy, mentally alert, emotionally secure, socially competent and able to learn.
5. Educate every child. All girls and boys must have access to and complete primary education that is free, compulsory and of good quality as a cornerstone of an inclusive basic education. Gender disparities in primary and secondary education must be eliminated.
6. Protect children from harm and exploitation. Children must be protected against any acts of violence, abuse, exploitation and discrimination, as well as all forms of terrorism and hostage-taking.
7. Protect children from war. Children must be protected from the horrors of armed conflict. Children under foreign occupation must also be protected, in accordance with the provisions of international humanitarian law.
8. Combat HIV/AIDS. Children and their families must be protected from the devastating impact of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS).
9. Listen to children and ensure their participation. Children and adolescents are resourceful citizens capable of helping to build a better future for all. We must respect their right to express themselves and to participate in all matters affecting them, in accordance with their age and maturity.
10. Protect the Earth for children. We must safeguard our natural environment, with its diversity of life, its beauty and its resources, all of which enhance the quality of life, for present and future generations. We will give every assistance to protect children and minimize the impact of natural disasters and environmental degradation on them.”
As a teacher, with the incredible opportunity to educate children every single day, I am so aware of the importance of my job, and the gift that it gives me.
I believe, wholeheartedly, that children will live what they learn, and deserve every chance and opportunity we can possibly give them, whether they were born in Denmark or Delhi. We, as adults, have a duty to protect the rights of every child in this world. They are the future world leaders. Isn’t it only right that they experience a world that is fair and just, without poverty and conflict and corruption, where their right to education has been protected and their hunger has been sated?
“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.” ~ Pablo Casals