On Mother's Day, I look at my kids and think how blessed I am. Not just because I've had a chance to raise them, with all of the love, pride and fun that brings to my life. But because doing so has been a joyful experience. I've been able to nourish them, keep them warm, and send them off to school in the morning.
Life in Nepal is nowhere near returning to normal, and will not be for many years to come. If your house and place of business had crumbled to the ground, and you were sleeping under a tent in the local park, croissants and gasoline wouldn't mean much -- especially if your children were coping with emotional distress like the children in Nepal.
I imagine there are many moms out there like me who don't want big gifts or a ton of fanfare. But they still want to feel special. I don't really want any one 'thing' for Mother's Day. This may sound sentimental, but it's the truth: I want to relive memories, I want to hear how much I mean to my family, and I want to feel loved.
You'd never know it to look at me, but more than 40 years ago I started a global movement. After seeing the devastating images on T.V. of children starving in Ethiopia, my heart was broken. My friends and I didn't think we could do anything, and casually proposed the idea at our young people's group of doing something and having it be a weekend event where we went hungry.
According to an Ipsos poll, when shopping for clothes, 76 per cent of Canadians feel stress that they're paying too much for something while just 59 per cent are concerned about child labour. With the sun shining brighter every day, I plunged into my sons' closets last weekend, in search of spring clothes that would still fit them. Sitting there, sipping, I thought of another little boy, one whom I hadn't seen in a while. His name is Jewel.
This past year, I became your mother. As I watch you grow I'm amazed by the things you are learning, and the unique and spunky little person you're becoming. Already, I see you picking up so much from me and others around you, including the good, the hilarious and the not so great. I realize just how much of an impact I am having with the example I set.
On World Health Day, I feel especially protective of the millions of children around the world whose circumstances force them to consume food and water that puts their health and lives at risk. I see that the World Health Organization has picked "Food Safety" as this year's theme for the day, and can understand why.
The truth about chocolate is tough to swallow. My heart aches for the two million children, mainly in West Africa, who work on cocoa plantations. Far too many of them toil under slave-like conditions, forced to handle dangerous chemicals, and swing machetes sharp enough to maim. Most are paid next to nothing. Some are abducted from their homes and forced to work for free without the opportunity to go to school, forfeiting dreams for the future.
This Sunday is World Water Day. We're pretty lucky in Canada -- we don't really have to think about fresh water. When we need it, we turn on the tap and it's there. In summer we can jump into it and run through it. In winter we can glide over it or build it into sculptures. There are many amazing Canadians who refuse to take this gift for granted.
An eight-year-old girl, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon, is someone I know only from a photograph. I was captivated by the girl whose schooling was so critical to her, that she grabbed her report card while fleeing the rocket attacks on her home town. That was two years ago. I've been unable to find any recent updates on Jouri.
Canadians travelling to warm spots this March Break may be approached by child labourers selling trinkets or souvenirs. In El Salvador, this young girl carries heavy basket of water bottles to peddle to tourists. So what should Canadians do, if they encounter a child who seems to be in danger? Many of us are so concerned about misreading a situation, or imposing our own Canadian views on another way of life, that we do nothing. We may comment about how sad the situation is, and then move along.
I've been lucky to have a fulfilling marriage, a job that I love and a life filled with meaning. But like anyone, I'm familiar with the stretches of hopelessness that can come when life gets to be too much -- or not nearly enough. I began sponsoring Alejandro in Bolivia when he was just five, sure that I'd be improving his life. What took me completely off-guard was the way that he's lifted mine.
Working with World Vision, I know that too much chocolate available in our stores comes at the heartbreaking expense of some 2 million children worldwide. Here are some of the things I've done this year, to keep the fun in Valentine's Day and honour those I love, while caring for children around the world:
Three decades ago, an Oakville mother whose sons were laying around during the Christmas holidays, suggested in exasperation that they "Go jump in the lake!" You know what? They did it. And their annual Polar Bear Dip has raised more than $1.2 million for clean water projects in the developing world.
It's true that most governments in developing countries provide education for children. And there's no doubt that millions of children overseas are intelligent, hard-working and yearning to succeed. But let's consider the many challenges which children in the world's poorest regions face when trying to attend school.
Thursday is the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the most widely endorsed human rights treaty in history. The Convention enshrines children's rights to protection, survival, development and participation. For a quarter century it has influenced laws, policies and government priorities in 194 countries. Most importantly, it has changed how children are viewed and treated.
They're known on television as the Property Brothers. Drew scouts neglected houses and negotiates the purchases, while twin brother Jonathan works magic through renovation. But there's a lot you may not know about Drew and Jonathan Scott and their older brother, JD, including their passion for helping the world's poorest children.
Today's conflicts are smaller in scale than the world wars on which we normally focus come Remembrance Day. But tragically, so are many of the soldiers. There are some 250,000 child soldiers in the world today, mostly in Africa. Children the age of my school-aged sons are shoved headlong into a hell that's unimaginable for most adults, let alone a child.