By Kristen Johnson
Yesterday was Universal Children’s Day, established in 1954 by the United Nations to improve children’s welfare. It is a time to advocate and celebrate children’s rights, and to work together for the rights of children. (UN.org).
When thinking about how to best advocate for children on this important day, we would be remiss not to think about the children most at risk – refugees and those living in extreme poverty throughout the world. Sadly, the incoming administration in the U.S. does not seem willing to assist with these needs. But, it doesn’t really matter because it is our job as Christians to serve the world, and that most certainly includes the most vulnerable children.
The crisis in Syria now represents the largest displacement crisis in the world, with over half the population now forced out of their homes. Nearly half of the 13.5 million people affected by the crisis are children – 5.6 million! That is 5.6 million children who are in need of basics like food, clothing and shelter. (CharityNavigator.org).
There are many charities working in areas affected by the Syrian conflict and we should be helping in any way that we can. My two favorite children’s charities that I can personally recommend (for refugee assistance) are:
International Rescue Committee: Highly rated on Charity Navigator – they work all over the world and they have assisted 1.4 million people affected by the Syrian conflict, including providing 8.400 children with safe classrooms and educational opportunities. This marvelous organization also provides urgent supplies, medical attention, and trauma counseling for people affected by the war. You can contribute here: http://www.internationalchildcare.org.
Save the Children: Also very highly rated on Charity Navigator – I was completely sold on this organization after reading about them in one of my UMW books and after viewing a documentary about their fantastic work. They work throughout the world to give children a healthy start in life and to protect them from harm. They are working to provide critical resources and services to refugee camps in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. They have helped more than 3.8 million people in the region. You can contribute here: http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7998857/k.D075/Syria.htm.
In addition to assisting refugees, we can also assist children on Universal Children’s Day (and everyday) by working with charities to provide assistance to areas of extreme poverty. My Church group (and other groups I work with) love and support a wide variety of children’s international charities, but I will highlight one that was highlighted just today by United Methodist Women:
International Child Care: Although their Charity Navigator score is 3 out of 4 (and I only ever recommend organizations that are 4-star) I have decided to focus on them today, because I can’t believe United Methodist Women (UMW) would ever recommend an organization that does not truly serve women and children, as that is always their focus. ICC works in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to change conditions of poverty and to assist with healthcare needs and to empower the community. They have a really great training center for healthcare professionals and they provide quite a number of healthcare services in affected communities. You can contribute here: http://www.internationalchildcare.org.
Refusing to meet the need is not an option. We can only change the world if we work together to serve the world, and that is particularly true for the most vulnerable children.
Mark 9:36-37 (NRSV): 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io