Never could I have imagined the huge differences between life in Madagascar and life in England. In the same way that I never really thought twice about not having clean water and a toilet while growing up; people in London don't think twice about having it. That is just the way it is. Imagine, though, if poor communities had that same gift, that same opportunity!
As I returned home from visiting these young women, I was determined never to forget their beautiful faces, their tragic stories. And yet, as I stand in line for the door-buster special at my local big box store on Black Friday, it's easy for me to be carried away by the excitement of the season, to let my holiday gift list get in the way of remembering these extraordinary girls.
Since I started my Dollar-a-Day trips, women around the world have opened their homes to me. They've offered me a place to sleep. They've allowed me to work alongside them in the fields and sit at their tables and talk with their families over dinner.But most importantly, they've taught me important lessons about generosity, perseverance and community.
I have to tell you, as a disaster responder, the greatest gift I have ever experienced was the time -- just last September -- when, our arms full of those bright yellow bags, the volunteers and I were actually turned away. That's right: a storm-impacted community turned us away and told us to take the supplies to another neighborhood, as they were able to care for themselves. What a gift!
The three primary killers of children under 5 years of age -- pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria -- are both preventable and treatable with simple and cost-effective interventions. Efforts to end these preventable child deaths will only be successful when integrated packages of interventions are available to the population most at risk.