Being born is a crapshoot. An innocent gentle soul arrives into the world pure and hopeful and looking for love. Depending on where it is born or whom it is born to predicates it's emotional journey. It can be born to the woman who tied her son to the floor for a year, or the man who raped his daughter at 8 months old thinking he'll be cured of AIDS. It can be born into hunger to a mother who is heartbroken as she watches her baby fade into death. Or to parents who just cannot love it the way it needs them to. And it can be born to untold violence among its own family. It can be tortured or stolen from its mother to be trafficked by strangers never to return. It can be enslaved. It can be orphaned and left to fend for itself. Or it can be used as child labor for hardhearted monsters to get rich at the expense of a child's happiness. It can be forced to carry a lightweight Kalashnikov rifle and kill at will. And as of March of this year, it can be married from the age of nine, if it happens to have the misfortune to be a girl born in Iran.
All of this is up to you. If we insist upon a kinder world, if we stood tall for children all this would change. Most of us remember the joy of our mother's smile, her smell, and the thrill of making her happy as we danced around the room. But many children spend their childhood years dodging a fist, they hunger for food and are totally unprotected, wishing for the day they will be saved. We want to be there on that day, that day they need no longer be scared. And it's time. Time to break out of the material world that has been marketed to you as essential and transcend. Transcend to your higher power, your instinct, your better nature and rise up in love for the kids who if not saved now will be angry souls ravaged by hurt and angry at the world.
I was galvanized to become a Child Rights Activist and found Arms Around the Child after meeting two incredible women. Jackie Branfield runs an extraordinary organization called Bobbi Bear in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. She leads an army of women who take it upon themselves to rescue children from child sexual abuse even if it means busting into homes and dragging the perpetrators out. It was with Jackie that I held Angel in my arms, a child just 8 months old with no light in her eyes, having been raped by her father as an AIDS cure. Even though she was showered with affection from the women at Bobbi Bear, no amount of love could save her because her injuries were so great. When the women opened Angel's diaper, her injuries were so great even the toughest among them threw up. In a twist of fate, the father died from AIDS the day after the rape.
The other woman who inspired me is Mum Carol who leads Ikageng Itireleng in Soweto, South Africa. This incredible woman has fostered and continues to support 1200 children living in parentless households. She provides food parcels, blankets, school uniforms, toiletries and anything necessary for the children to thrive. To them she is their mother. But it's hard for both Jackie and Carol to fundraise to meet the needs. Still, people are holding on to their money and not giving as much as before the economic downturn, and they struggle to support the number of kids that need help.
There are reasons we need to protect our children from birth more than just the obvious. We know that early childhood adversity has a seriously negative effect on brain development. Our experiences from birth shape a child's brain and provide either a strong or a weak foundation depending on the environment in which the child is raised. 200 million children under five years of age fail to reach their developmental potential because of the adversity they have suffered during early life.
The same stresses that affect brain development also have negative effects on overall health and can contribute to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. One of the most important factors in healthy childhood brain development is a stable, loving, responsive adult caregiver. Proving what John and Paul told us: love is indeed all you need after all.
Now this is where you come in. You can join us by being financially responsible for a child who is going through hell and help them receive protection and the feeling that they are indeed loved by someone. That someone could be you.
So if you are ready to transcend your beliefs about what is essential to you, come on a mission with us to help these darling innocent children have an equal life to our own because guess what, they want exactly what we want.
We have been completely complacent and let the powers that be run roughshod over us. All the world over, people are standing up for their rights and saying "enough!" Lets say "enough" to the way that children are at the bottom of the list, after drones and oil and economies run by corporations. That is how 450 million children will be stunted because of lack of love and adequate nutrition. It is how 151 million children have been orphaned by war, disease, hunger and outrageous complacency by governments everywhere, which makes them prey to the worst of human depravity. For instance, a girl is raped in South Africa every 36 seconds! Seventeen million children have been orphaned by AIDS because their parents could not access life-saving medicine that costs just 40 cents. And worst of all, 600 million children are living in absolute poverty. These circumstances are ripe for children to be vulnerable to those who are out to exploit them either sexually or otherwise.
If this enrages you as it enrages me, let's start a different type of war here. A war against humans who don't give a damn about children.
If you would like to give to these amazing warrior women and the kids they support please visit the Arms Around the Child website and donate for them specifically.