On this International Day of Friendship, my thoughts are with my friend Moses and the incredible work he has done over the years to overcome adversity.
If you were to meet Moses, you wouldn't be able to tell that he has gone through some horrific moments in his life. He's a vibrant young man who works tirelessly to ensure his family has everything they need to live happy, healthy lives.
He's also a man who dedicates his life to giving back to the world's most vulnerable children. Not just because it's the right thing to do, but also because he too was once vulnerable.
Moses was born in Sierra Leone to two parents who loved him deeply, and who struggled every day to make ends meet. When Moses was one, his father died and his mother took up the role of sole breadwinner. She worked hard to provide for her kids and showed Moses the true meaning of love.
At age 9, he experienced an act of unthinkable violence -- robbers stormed into their home and murdered his mother right before his eyes. When Moses was told he and his older brother could move to a place where they would be safe and feel loved again, he didn't believe it was true.
He and his brother were taken to SOS Children's Villages in Sierra Leone, where an SOS Mother welcomed them. They were given a second opportunity for a happy, fulfilling life -- an opportunity to once again live in a loving family environment. Over the years, his SOS Mother taught him valuable lessons that have helped shape him into the man he is today.
"My SOS Mother taught me the importance of respecting and caring about the welfare of everyone I come in contact with. And she taught me to always try to make a difference," he explained to me.
Every time I connect with Moses in person or by phone, it's clear to me that he lives by the lessons taught to him by both his biological mother and SOS Mother. He's the proud father of two wonderful children, and also sponsors children living in the SOS Village he was raised in. He works at a bank to provide for his family, and also volunteers with SOS as a way to give back.
My friendship with Moses -- as well as with many other incredible SOS alumni -- has helped me build a very deep connection between my work at SOS and the children who benefit from it.
Tragedy brought us together, and while I would do anything to have been able to prevent that tragedy, I could not be more grateful to have a friend like Moses. His strength inspires me to work harder every day to ensure each child is given opportunities that will help them thrive as independent adults.
Please join me in standing up for the rights of the most vulnerable children -- children like the boy my friend Moses once was -- and sign our petition to the United Nations here. Your voice is important in helping us protect the rights and future of all our children.
Follow Lynn M. Croneberger on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LynnCroneberger