Posts Tagged ‘orphans’

Children in Crossfire

As you’re thinking about Mom for the upcoming Mother’s Day cards and flowers extravaganza (and overcrowded brunch venues)…it is worth a few moments to think about children the world over, especially those without parental influence.

Children in Crossfire is a charity based in the U.K., founded by Richard Moore, who, when he was ten years old in 1972, was blinded by a rubber bullet fired by a soldier point blank at his face. His life since has been one filled with compassion and passion for children and their rights to happiness no matter the circumstances swirling around them. A tireless advocate for kids of conflict, the Dalai Lama recently visited Moore in Northern Ireland, holding him up as a fantastic example of living life at peace with your world.

Most of the actual volunteer opportunities with Children in Crossfire are about fund-raising and spreading the word…so think about making a donation in honor of your mother, and mothers everywhere, for war kids and orphans of conflict, disease, and poverty.

S.O.S. Children’s Villages

There are 132 countries where the work, and volunteers, of S.O.S. Children’s Villages are providing long-term care to orphaned and abandoned children. There are S.O.S. villages in the United States that depend upon the hard work of volunteers if you’d like to get involved. Children up to the age of 10 (siblings can be older) are eligible for admission to one of the villages around the world where kids are brought up with other children, raised in the religion in which they were first introduced by family or the predominant spirituality of the culture, and the village rearing philosophy is based on using S.O.S. mothers, women who are hired to parent households of, usually, six to ten children (more developed nations tend to have smaller households in this particular system). Each village and country has it’s own volunteer needs, and the US programs don’t have international volunteer placements to other programs, but the main US villages in Chicago, Illinois, Lockport, Illinois, and Coconut Creek, Florida all welcome help.

Ways to be involved in the lives and livelihood of these kids, can be found here.

Small Voices

Heather E. Connell documented the lives of poor children on the streets and in the garbage dumps of Cambodia. Her film, Small Voices, finally gives voice to the youth struggling against the odds, and the school in Phnom Penh where some, but never enough, are given a chance at education and stability. On the streets of Phnom Penh, there are over 12,000 children begging and working picking trash—this feature-length doc focuses on a few.

Nearly half the population of Cambodia is under the age of 15–and many are left to fend for themselves with little or no education or resources. Seeing the world through their eyes is a revelation, like one child who boasts, with considerable pride, “I would never steal. I’m a beggar.”

The choices these kids have to make, when in a better world would be no more momentous than deciding between chocolate and vanilla, are instead conundrums posed by situations like “if I go to school I wouldn’t have money to buy rice.” Or the child who tells the camera, “If the adults don’t hurt me too much, I want to learn. Ive been to school 3 times before but the teachers beat me too much.”

There is an entire community of people who live at the dump, picking trash morning, noon, and night (though recognizing that at night it can be more dangerous—trucks can back over you before you see them). Kids and adults alike are living at the dump, swarming every truck that comes in, hoping this will be the load that will have enough reclaimable trash for me to buy rice, picking through the foul detritus, hoping the plastic bags and occasional bottle top can translate into grains. One young child reports, “I’ve seen human leg, dead babies, bodies with their throats slit. If I see a dead baby I bury it.” How does our world include a situation like this?

The next chapter of this story is equally amazing. The filmmaker, Heather E. Connell, made a promise to a 4-year-old boy she met in Cambodia who had cerebral palsy. The orphanage where he lived could only keep him until he was six. After that, he would be on his own…at six…with cerebral palsy. Connell had to find a way to help, and is returning to Cambodia to build Safe Haven, a school for handicapped children—there is currently no such facility in Cambodia.

It’s one of the most brilliant examples I know of how, when we travel and immerse ourselves in the issues we find, our commitment doesn’t stop when we board the plane and go home. We end up, without even trying, with a lifetime commitment, and tend to come home and inspire family and friends, and if a news story comes on the TV even remotely connected to the place or people we came to know…our ears perk up. We are connected. We don’t let go. And we can always dip in and take a deeper cut. Change keeps on changing. The efforts you make have a life beyond your physical presence. Isn’t that amazing?

See the film. Look for ways your world and efforts can reverberate.

Tax deductible donations to support Safe Haven Project can be made out to Benevolent Vision, 10801 National Blvd, Los Angeles, CA. 90064-4144.

World AIDS Day

December 1 is World AIDS Day…each year…sadly, still this year.

While here in the United States, AIDS has become, largely, a treatable disease, in Africa and many developing nations, it is still a certain death sentence. Millions and millions die. Their deaths from AIDS-related disease can be prevented. Children could still have parents instead of being orphaned. Suffering could be alleviated. There is still no cure, but there is treatment—and the only barrier to getting that treatment to everyone, is money.

If you are unable to do anything the other 364 days a year, please, today, do something. There is a huge array of wonderfully effective HIV/AIDS organizations focusing on education, care, treatment, research, all elements of life LIVING with AIDS. One of them is calling to you. Listen. Find them. Make a difference.

One of my favorite charitable organizations in the world is Keep a Child Alive. For just a dollar a day, you can do exactly that. As co-founder and Global Ambassador Alicia Keys says, “We have a human family, a global family, and we have to pay attention.” Keep a Child Alive: ”

It starts and ends with the actions of people
We are witnessing the complete annihilation of entire communities of people. Human beings like you and and me, infected with the deadliest virus known to man: AIDS. Spreading uncontrollably from person to person, the virus has led to the deaths of millions of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. The most affected are children. This devastating disease has created over 13 million orphans in Africa alone. This has become a race against time, not just for Africa but for the entire human race…

and yet the virus can be stopped
by donating as little as a dollar a day, we can provide life-saving medication, support and orphan care to keep these children and families alive. 100% of your donation will go directly to this cause.