Last week my niece Delilah was part of a historic moment in time, when on January 15th of 2015 15-year-olds from around the world joined a movement spearheaded by Save The Children and the ONE Campaign to ask governments to do better, and to involve youth in the process of building the future they want to see. This was part of the launch of the #action2015 campaign to engage the public in the historic opportunity this year that we all have to shape the future of our world.
As the mother of a fifteen year old daughter as well it is amazing to think that in the year that my daughter was being born, the Millennium Development Goals were set in motion. The eight Millennium Development Goals had been put in place by the then 189 member nations of the United Nations to free people around the globe from extreme poverty and the depravations that cause or are a result of it. In the year 2000 my baby was my universe, so I am grateful that while our lives were so nuclear, steps were being taken to ensure that she would grow up to live in a greater world working towards equality for all.
2015 is significant as this first set of goals expire December 31st of this year, and in 2015 transformative meetings are being held to write new ones. This year will dictate the post-2015 course of action to keep the momentum of progress going. Great progress has been made in the past two decades, child mortality has been halved, the number of maternal deaths have been reduced by at least a 1/4, and the world is nearly (99%) Polio free. In fact Bill Gates believes that by 2035 there will barely be any poverty stricken countries left.
The exciting thing to me is that these facts prove that progress is possible with the right infrastructure in place. The children of the millennium, our fifteen year olds who have matured with these first set of global goals, and others of their generation, will eventually be the stewards of the next phase of eliminating poverty in this world. In their lifetimes it is possible that they will see an end to global poverty as we know it.
Kind of like what us parents face in the digital age our children are growing up in! I am loath to admit how much time my kids spend playing on their electronic devices. We truly try to limit their screen time, but it has become increasingly difficult as their games travel everywhere they go with their mobile devices. With four kids it’s like whac-a-mole redirecting them away from their screens. In the time it takes me to get one reading on the couch, one of the others has gone down the rabbit hole into cyberspace somewhere else. We understand that this is the culture our kids are growing up in so we use their screen time to our advantage as much as we can. On the weekends for example, while our rules drastically limit video games during the week, the kids can play all they want on weekend mornings if they let us sleep in! I am also always on the lookout for games that are educational or enriching as alternatives to the many mind numbing ones out there. Research shows that well-designed digital games can be effective learning tools, and that they can be especially effective in the development of social and ethical skills. Read the rest of this entry
These days I’m walking around with a tightness in my chest. The feeling that something is missing that stays with me all the time. A very slight deep underlying melancholy, and I hope every mother gets a chance to feel this way at some point. It sounds cruel, I know, to wish this on others, but my post on Mamalode today explains why I do.
On my trip to Ethiopia this past summer to report on newborn health with the International Reporting Project, and through the work I do with the local non-profit Edesia that nourishes children around the world, the theme of #Nourish struck a chord with me. Especially at this moment in time when my own baby was going off to school as a teenager for the first time. I realized that as mothers this is truly our ultimate goal, to see our children grow up to be healthy and happy and productive. At the same time this is the most difficult part of motherhood. The letting go.
I can not grow a garden, though lord knows I’ve tried, and each of my houseplants clings tenaciously to life each day, but somehow, someway it seems, I grew a human. And I am amazed.
I am honored and thrilled to be published on Mamalode today as part of the #nourish theme sponsored by the ONE Women & Girls campaign. My travels to Ethiopia mentioned in the post were with The International Reporting Project #EthiopiaNewborns New Media Fellowship this past June.
Our pediatrician explained that the reason the Whooping cough outbreak was happening with the 10, 11 & 12 year olds in our town was because it was right around the time those kids were due for their booster shots. Pertussis, known as the Whooping cough for how it sounds, is highly contagious, and presents as a persisting cough in older children and adults, but it can be deadly to babies. Pregnant women at risk of exposure are advised to be vaccinated against it. The outbreak in the schools in my town were just another reminder to me this year of how fortunate we are to have access to vaccines that protect our children from such harmful viruses.
As a United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Champion I advocate for global vaccines year round, but seeing vaccine preventable diseases popping up so close to home this year reinforces my mission to spread awareness to other moms here and abroad. Less than an hour from where we live there was also recently a measles outbreak. In the year 2,000 measles had been declared eliminated from the US, but it’s back, and that is a scary thing for a parent. Measles is a highly contagious disease, and in other areas of the world it is still one of the leading causes of death in young children. According to the CDC the past two years have seen the largest measles outbreaks in the US since the year 2,000. Communities choosing not to vaccinate are opening this country up to a resurgence of diseases that we have previously worked very hard to eliminate as risks for our children.
There are countries where vaccines are not widely available, as they are here, and mothers will walk for days with their children, and wait in long lines to get their kids vaccinated. Those mothers know first hand the deadly risk of not vaccinating their children, they see it every day. In fact every 20 seconds a child dies in this world unnecessarily from a vaccine preventable disease. We are fortunate enough to have access to vaccines in this country to protect our children from most of these diseases, yet with that security comes complacency and the urgency to vaccinate gets lost on some. What those parents need to realize is that their choice not to vaccinate their own child, unwittingly puts all other children at risk. One case of measles can quickly spread to 20 to 40 more cases, and can be deadly to some.
It is not just about keeping our own children healthy; vaccines have proven to be the best investment in global health out there. By preventing disease through vaccinations governments can save billions of dollars on the otherwise repercussions of health care costs. Healthy communities are more productive, which is good for the economy. A good economy prevents social unrest, which prevents global unrest. In other words, investing in vaccines and global health is in the best interest of us all, no matter where we live. Remember in this ever shrinking world every deadly virus is just one plane ride away. That is why World Immunization Week matters to us all. My fellow Rhode Island Shot@Life Champion Lisa Davis and I visited Congressman Langevin’s office during #WorldImmunizationWeek to ask him to support global immunization programs. You can let congress know how important funding global vaccines is to you and your family by contacting them here.