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Dr. Jane Aronson Headshot

Orphans Have No Anniversaries or Marches to Commemorate Them

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Listening to President Obama's speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 1963 March on Washington brought up a lot of emotion around the struggle for racial equality in the U.S. I grew up in the second half of the 20th century and -- with all the assassinations, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War and the riots in Watts -- the fight for freedom and justice is keenly etched in my life experience. It is easy to understand why advocating for orphans around the world is the center of my life in the first half of the 21st century... and hence my nickname, the "Orphan Doctor."

There are no anniversaries or marches to commemorate the struggles of hundreds of millions of orphan children around the world. Silently and painfully, orphaned children suffer in almost all of the approximately 200 countries in the world to achieve some independence and success in their lives. They are victims of poverty, prejudice and human chaos from conflict, war, disaster and disease.

I ask that we all include orphans, living without parental care, in our struggle for social justice. They are surely worthy of our marches, our raised up voices, our outraged pleas for the victims of human indecencies... I ask for humanity for all those under-represented individuals. The anniversary of the March on Washington, as President Obama noted in his speech, is really about all those without representation, recognition, love and justice.

All those who suffer must be in our consciousness every day. There is no inner peace without freedom for all those who are subjugated. I imagine orphans as ghosts in our midst every day that I awaken.