Recently I saw a social media post from a teacher I know in Nepal. It showed two young children sleeping in the streets of Kathmandu. I found the image heartbreaking. I don’t know who these children are, if they have been helped or if they continue to live life on the streets. Having worked with the 108 Lives Project in Nepal I know I have helped some children and I know other people who have done and continue to do the same. But here in front of me was a picture of two children that I could see but have no way of helping.
One of the challenges of providing aid is coming to understand that you can’t save everyone. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and perhaps you can do better for the people around you even when you feel powerless.
When I was faced with divorce I had two young children. One thing that became very clear to me and their mother was that the kids had to come first. This turned out to be the best prism by which to focus decisions. For my part I chose to remain an active parent and over time my ex-wife and I have forged a strong co-parenting practice. I believe this helped fast track recovery from our own negative feelings brought on by the divorce, enabling both of us to provide loving happy childhoods for our children.
The news is flooded with terrible things happening to children, from unprecedented refugee numbers, famine, drought, poverty, ecological disaster, slavery, violence and sexual assault. Like many people I waver between outrage and apathy. The life I am living is filled with demands, responsibilities and distractions that often make me feel powerless in the face of human tragedies.
What I can do however, is offer an idea and that is to put the rights of children at the forefront of every decision. I ask it of myself, I ask it of you and I ask it of our leaders. Imagine if everyone truly put the welfare of children first? It sounds idealistic but surely it is something that as a species we could get our heads around. Children are vulnerable and deserve protection and nurturing. Our apathy gives them the opposite of what they should have and a future as bleak as their childhoods. We can start by combatting our own apathy and examining our choices through this simple idea. You don’t have to be a parent, just a human being, it is no more complex than that. Once you drop the pebble in the water the ripples can be far reaching.