On June 4, my darling son, Deacon turns 5 years old. For his birthday, we are throwing Deacon an epic Hobbit-themed party and plan to spoil him rotten with hugs, kisses and all our love.
So tonight, as we celebrate Deacon’s five years in our little family, moms like me EVERYWHERE should celebrate. This year, 6 million fewer children will die before their 5th birthday than just 25 years ago. This change has happened in MY lifetime. How is this possible? Instead of running for the exits, people, organizations and governments have organized and worked together to save young lives. One precious child at a time.
It’s nothing short of amazing. We’ve cut in half the number of young lives lost before their fifth birthday. With strong bi-partisan support, U.S. foreign assistance is saving children’s lives and helping them not just survive, but THRIVE. Over the past 25 years, the United States has played a leading role in one of the world’s most remarkable success stories of our age: unprecedented progress to prevent the deaths of millions of children.
But work remains. There are still more than 6 million children who face consequences more dire than missing a celebration of their 5th birthday. These deaths are preventable. Every child should have the chance to turn 5 years old.
With the lives of 6.6 million kids on the line, iIt can feel so overwhelming. And, for many of us, the impulse to simply turn, shake our heads and walk away… because it is just TOO MUCH pain to think about... But, my friends, we must go against that urge to accept things they way they stand. The promise and potential of millions of children demand more of us.
I refuse to turn my head.
I refuse to turn children’s lives into nameless statistics. Meeting the challenge requires us to have the perspective of how much we’ve accomplished, as well as the work that’s left to achieve.
Today, let’s celebrate how far we’ve come and how many more young, hope-filled birthdays we’ve helped make possible. Today, let’s double-down and re-commit ourselves to ending the scourge of preventable childhood deaths.
Every child is named. Every child is loved. Every child is precious. Today, and everyday, I'm grateful for both my healthy boys. Today, I’m going to celebrate my youngest son’s 5th birthday. Today, I’m incredibly grateful for the simple, priceless gift to be able to do so.
Imagine, just imagine, how many MORE birthdays we can protect, nurture and celebrate. TOGETHER.
Learn more about the 5th birthday movement at http://5thbdayandbeyond.org/.
Angela Rupchock-Schafer, Assistant Director, Communications, CWS