South Sudan has been ranked the most fragile country on earth for the past two years. On a recent trip to remote Warrap State, I witnessed targeted Canadian investments improving the health of moms and babies. There are long-term, sustainable efforts to strengthen the health system taking root in South Sudan that go above and beyond much-needed emergency relief -- and they are paving the way for a better tomorrow.
We Millennials have grown up. We've gone from passionate teens to professionals, flexing our leadership muscles in the workplace. We still carry the idealism of our younger years, but, with our new roles as movers and shakers, the stakes for our involvement are much higher. This is our world now -- and we need to be ready to help take charge. This week in New York City, the United Nations will adopt the new Sustainable Development Goals, a set of goals and targets designed to end extreme poverty over the next 15 years. They're universal, and so are expected to guide the policies and practices of all countries, not just the developing ones. As a Millennial, I'm keeping a watch on what our governments and organizations do, and looking for ways to help.
When I see the faces of Syrian children in the news these days, I think of my little brother. I remember the confusion and terror he felt on a very deep level -- even with a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and the comfort of his family. Not to mention the pink bunny with stripy pants, to which Graham clung in the dark while my mother calmed him at night.
I am unwilling to shake off the horror of seeing Alan Kurdi lying face down on the beach. If it were just one child, just one death, the story would still be heartbreaking. But the outraged conversations across Canada have quickly expanded to include Canada's wider response to this terrible conflict.
Like many parents, I wonder if I'm too protective. "How can I learn to be safe if you go everywhere with me?" asked Gavin yesterday. He had a point. Especially since I had just read a page on World Vision Canada's web site highlighting the incredible journeys made by children around the world, as they travel to school alone.
Temperatures in Iran and Iraq were predicted to hit an apocalyptic 70 degrees Celsius this week. For Iraqi families who've been forced to flee their homes by recent violence -- and are now crowded into tents and metal containers -- the temperatures are life threatening. Children are in the greatest danger of all.
According to the World Health Organization, exclusive breastfeeding is the optimal way of feeding babies for the first six months of their lives. Breast milk is packed with nutrients that a newborn needs to grow strong and healthy, and fight off illness and infection. In regions where water sources are often contaminated and medical clinics are few and far between, nothing beats breastfeeding. Yet women giving birth in one of the world's poorest regions must often overcome immense obstacles to breastfeed.
There's no question that sports can play a critical role in boosting girls' self-confidence and determination. Many of us have known the girl who claims to be "totally uncoordinated," only to score the winning point for her basketball team. Or the shy, uncertain child who had trouble speaking up in class and now kicks butt in karate. Here's a photo gallery of the transforming effect sports can have on girls, no matter where they live.
Study after study indicates that parents, schools and community members all have a role to play in developing caring, ethical children. But how do we do that in a way that's less about layering on the duty and obligation? How do we nurture a child's own instincts about what's needed in the world, and help them find their own unique way to give?
On this World Refugee Day almost four million Syrian refugees, equivalent to the populations of Toronto and Montreal combined, are far from home and wondering if they will ever return to the life they knew. The Syrian crisis is the largest humanitarian crisis of the 21st century, and its impact is being felt disproportionately by the millions of affected children.
High atop a mountain, several hours' drive from the nearest tiny village, a young mother named Ganga went into labour. It was just days after the massive April 25 earthquake, and thousands of Nepali families were afraid to go inside their homes for fear the buildings would collapse in an aftershock. Ganga laboured publicly for two full days.
Luisa spends most of her life on a sweltering treadmill, just to help keep herself and her family alive. It's amazing to think that while we take every precaution to make sure our children stay safe and well hydrated on our hikes and walks, there are children whose very lives depend on their making long, dangerous walks.
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.