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31 August, 2012

HEART AND SOUL


There are approximately 2.2 billion children who live and play in the global village we know as Planet Earth. We are connected to each of them. And they are connected to us. They are our children – the heart and soul of our global village. Their melodious laughter, incessant inquisitive banter, and irrepressible enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. We feel their joy. The village – our global village – would be a desolate place without them. Can you imagine living in a world devoid of laughter, joy, and irrepressible enthusiasm?

Yet, we allow approximately 1 billion children in our global village to live in poverty. We allow 640 million children in our global village to live without adequate shelter. We allow 400 million children in our global village to live without access to safe water. We allow 270 million children to be denied access to health services. And every year, death silences the melodious laughter, incessant inquisitive banter, and irrepressible enthusiasm of approximately 1.4 million children – our babies -- because they do not have access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation in our global village. How will living in poverty and not having access to adequate shelter, safe drinking water, and adequate sanitation shape these children’s perception of the world outside of their immediate environment and their place in it? Will they see a world that offers unlimited opportunities? Will growing up in abject poverty without access to adequate shelter, safe drinking water, and adequate sanitation shatter the souls and break the spirits of these children – our babies – and the global village’s Next Generation of Husbands, Wives, Mothers, Fathers, and Leaders?

Then there is the issue of the education of our children – the heart and soul of our global village. The number of children throughout our global village who are not attending school is shocking and tragic. At least 67 million primary school-age children are not attending school. Approximately 45% of these “out of school” children live in sub-Saharan Africa and approximately 24% of “out of school” children live in South and West Asia. Forty percent of “out of school” children in South and West Asia were previously enrolled in school but dropped out of school at some point. In Arab states, “out of school” children number approximately 5.8 million; 2.2 million “out of school” children exist in North America and Western Europe; Central and Eastern Europe estimates that its “out of school” children number 1.1 million; East Asia and the Pacific has approximately 8.3 million “out of school” children; and approximately 2.8 million “out of school” children can be found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is estimated that at least 72,000,000 children of lower secondary school age are “out of school” and approximately 10,000,000 children in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of primary school each year.  

The village suffers when its children – its heart and soul – are allowed to languish in poverty, live without adequate shelter, safe drinking water, health services, sanitation, and not attend school or drop out of school We must rethink how we can provide access to economic opportunities to the parents of the children in our global village who are impoverished. We must build and adequately maintain sewage treatment plants that will pump out unhealthy and deadly waste materials and water treatment plants that pump in water that is safe to drink, cook with, and bathe in throughout our global village. It is imperative that we create accessible and affordable health resources and support services. We must look at why so many of our children – the village’s heart and soul – are not going to school or are dropping out of school. 

Let’s resolve the issues that prevent our children from attending school and staying in school. Let’s rethink how we are educating our children. Are we providing them with the skills they will need to become productive and successful adults in a global marketplace that is driven by information technology? 

Now, take a minute to think about yourself. When you were born, you were the heart and soul of the village. When the adults of the village gazed into your probing and sparkling eyes, they saw hope and the promise of a new day. You were loved. You were nurtured. You were valued. But what if your entire journey from childhood to adulthood had been spent living in poverty, without adequate food and shelter, and no access to safe drinking water, health services, and adequate sanitation. Would you have matured into a purpose-driven, productive, and successful adult? Would you go through life being angry or happy? Would you have a sense of direction or would you spend your life wandering around aimlessly?  Would you be a vibrant, trusting, forgiving, and loving person? Or would you mature into an emotionally and spiritually detached adult? Would you be an asset or a liability to the village? Would you even exist?!

Shouldn’t our children – the village’s heart and soul – experience the same intense caring, nurturing, and mentoring that you enjoyed during your journey from childhood to adulthood? Don’t they deserve to feel protected, loved, and valued?


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