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Giving Every Child a Shot@Life

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In the first of what I hope to be many more blogs for The Huffington Post, I applaud the efforts of everyone involved with Global Motherhood.

For nearly 30 years the focus of my work has been the photography of newborn babies, founded by my desire to show the world the vulnerability, beauty, innocence and strength present in a newborn child, and more recently in the universal story of pregnancy and motherhood. As a photographer, there was never any other option than to photograph life in its purest form.

I was very proud to be asked to be a Global Advocate for the United Nations Foundation's Shot@Life campaign, a movement which aims to save the lives of over 21,000 children under five, who die every day from diseases that are entirely preventable by vaccines.

The words Shot@Life carry a link to what I see as my own life's work. Babies speak such a universal language -- they transcend all of humanity's self-imposed boundaries of culture, class, religion, and nationality.

At the beginning of our lives, we are all more or less the same. Naturally, some are born in more fortunate circumstances, but each baby contains a new and unbroken spirit. The underlying message through my work is the absolute promise of every newborn to reach their full potential.

I see babies as a compelling and persuasive symbol of human hope and the transforming power of unconditional love.

Through our Geddes Philanthropic Trust and my association over the past 20 years with the prevention of child abuse and neglect, it was an easy segue to embrace the values, and to make a commitment to advance Every Woman Every Child, an unprecedented global movement, spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world.

It breaks my heart -- as I'm sure it does yours -- to know that globally, thousands of small children die needlessly every day, and in fact this year 1.5 million children will die from diseases that have all but disappeared in developed countries.

Little children don't have a voice, or any control over their own lives, which makes them vulnerable. The message that should resonate around the world is that we are all responsible for all of the children all of the time.

If at all possible, I've been even more acutely aware of the miracle of new life over the past couple of years, during which I have been photographing pregnant women for my latest project my Pregnancy - A Woman's Story (a new magazine launched this week- available in Destination Maternity stores across the United States and Canada). Each issue of the magazine contains the stories of nine courageous women from all walks of life, who share their own unique experience of pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.

These women have inspired me not just with their amazing stories, but also their trust and their friendship. They are universal stories that only we women can tell; the joy, the pain, at times the sorrow, and always the wonder -- the deep inner thrill of seeing for the first time that little miracle who has been developing inside our own bodies, making it safe and sound into the world.

There is no difference in the way a mother feels about her pregnant self, her birth, and the unrequited love for her newborn -- wherever she lives in this world. In this universal oneness -- this wonderful sisterhood -- we are all connected by the manner in which life is created and produced.

What unfortunately separates us in some cases is simply a lack of access to basic information and aid. It is not complex, it is not hard to imagine, it is not hard to be able to assist, it is not hard to make a difference.

Our voices and support together can change a child's life forever. For a mere $20 you can guarantee a lifetime of immunity to a child who may otherwise perish from a common disease, a disease which we in the western world naively assume has been eradicated.

Shot@Life is an example of the many innovative and life-changing commitments to the UN Secretary-General's Every Woman Every Child effort. Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015. Through it's Every Woman Every Child movement, the United Nations Foundation has stepped forward to tell the world that woman and children not only matter -- they should be a priority.

This resonated so much with my own personal philosophy, my work and my commitment, I could see that by lending my voice to Shot@Life, I could join to protect children worldwide by helping to provide vaccines where they are most needed.

Let me stress three words: Simple, yet effective. Shot@Life puts forward a simple solution to the needless deaths of these children. Vaccines save lives.

Millions of children could be spared the horrors of measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, polio and other preventable diseases every year if we could simply get them the vaccines they need.

It's simple... it's effective... it's vaccines. Vaccines can potentially save the lives of 2.5 million children every year.

Coincidentally, I feel that there's a real analogy with my own photography and my involvement as a Global Advocate for Shot@Life.

I am often asked, "you must take so many photos to produce the work you do". It's true at times I do, but on every occasion the magic always seems to materialize in just one shot, a captured moment in time.

One shot is all you need. Here's your one shot to make a difference.

Go to Shotatlife.org and find out how you can act today.

Happy Mother's Day to the sisterhood of mothers around the world.