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:
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.
Very shortly after finding out I was approved to adopt, my adoption worker came to my home to tell me about two amazing adolescent sisters: Charity and Emily. I sat at my kitchen table for the rest of the night, staring straight ahead like a deer in the headlights, thinking about everything the worker had asked me to consider.
Ten years ago at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide I went to Rwanda with World Vision. I knew it would be a difficult trip, but I had no idea the impact that trip would have on me going forward. Now, as we near the 20th anniversary of the horrific Rwandan genocide, my heart is still broken by the meaningless killing.
It was with much sadness that I read Kristy Woudstra's article published on this site on Thursday morning. While World Vision U.S. has made changes to their policies over the past week, World Vision Canada has not. As a Christian organization, we follow the example of Jesus who reached out to everyone, especially those who were marginalized or left out.
Why do I care about the hiring practices of a Christian international humanitarian organization? Well, I worked at World Vision Canada for nearly 10 years and last week's news brought me back to one incident that still looms large: the time I tried to hire a lesbian at World Vision Canada. As a senior manager, I was hiring for an editorial position. In the final stages of the recruitment, HR informed me that the candidate had shared she was gay. She seemed ideal and I was excited to work with her. Without telling me, HR called the candidate to let her know that she didn't get the job. A senior staff manager told me he had come to the realization that if you're gay, you can't be Christian. And only Christians can work at World Vision, so we couldn't hire her.
A movement with real staying power was kick-started way back in 1971 by a Calgary teenager, Ruth Roberts. More than 40 years later, it's still going strong -- not only in Canada, but globally. This annual fundraiser to help children around the world through World Vision has become a world-wide movement: the 30 Hour Famine.
As long-awaited Syria peace talks begin this week, World Vision's Tanya Penny will be watching closely. She has been living alongside Syrian refugees in Jordan for the past two months, telling their stories with words and photographs. Here, Tanya describes the heartbreak that even the camera can't capture.
I love social media. As a recording artist it's a wonderful way to stay connected to the fans. I remember a time when I use to sit in the back of my tour bus and hand write letters back to the fans. I've always enjoyed that connection and social media for me allows the connections to be more immediate and more often.
UNICEF, Save the Children and World Vision are urging the global community to commit US$1 billion to provide the education, protection, and support Syrian children need to fulfill their potential, and to develop the skills their societies need to create a more sustainable future. This investment could well save a generation.