April 24, 2005

Imagine this scene (published in the Warwick Boar)

Writing about web page http://www.warwickboar.co.uk/boar/opinion/imagine_this_scene/

Imagine this chilling scene. You’re nine years old. You’re scared. You have just woken up in war-torn capital Monrovia in Liberia. You’ve lost your brothers and sisters during the brutal civil wars, and your parents died from AIDS way before you had the chance to show them your toddling skills. You soon discover that you don’t have a home, a family, a school to go to. All you have is yourself, and literally, nothing else. All you know is that other children around the block are stuck in the same horrific situation. Your options are limited. If you’re a boy, you can become a soldier to gain respect from your comrades. If you’re a girl, you may become subject to prostitution, sex trafficking or even sex slave. Shocked, you assume this is all a nightmare, one of those that feels so real that you even try to pinch your skin to wake up. But you don’t wake up. You can’t. It is real. How would you feel? What would you do?

The truth is that this scene is far from a dream, illusion, hallucination, head-trip. It is in fact almost a reconstruction of the lives of millions of genuine, real, innocent children in the world today. ‘Almost’ because reality can never be truly characterised into words. And as reality is always far from illusion, not only are they far from us in a physical sense, but so are their lives ridiculously different from ours. I do not pause to consider in detail the realities of the horrific lives of those unfortunate children. I leave this open to interpretation. But before you even consider imagining the horrors those kids have been though, the brutal sexual experiences they have been forced to participate in, or the disheartening conditions that they live in, I beg you to contemplate the following facts.
First things first: the key problems. One in three of the world’s children live without adequate shelter, one in five has no access to safe water, and one in seven has no access to health services. Furthermore, 121 million primary school aged children are out of school, the majority of them girls. Oh! Also, 1.6 million children have been killed in armed conflicts since 1990, while another 20 million have been forced from their homes by conflict or human rights violations. If that wasn’t more than enough, around 2 million children are recruited each and every year (the number is increasing) to work within the sex industry. In total, more than 1 billion children are living in families with a daily income of approximately £1.50. Hold on. That’s not even how much you spend on a pint, is it not?
If you believe in your future, you must believe in the future of children. No matter how much of a cliché this sounds, its nonetheless an accurate statement. You were a child once, right?
There has been much talk on terrorism, human rights, global warming and American politics in the past few years. There exists extensive literature on these topics, as well as other interesting subjects such as Newton’s gravity theory, Shakespeare’s plays, Chomsky’s commentaries etc. and I will not undermine their importance to the world today. But what purpose will it serve if more than 200 million children in the world today cannot read it, let alone understand it, because they don’t have a school to go to? Ultimately, you may ask yourself, why should we co-operate to eradicate not only child poverty, but also help the other 2.6 billion people living below the poverty line? Well that question shall also be left open. However, think about the scene in Monrovia, Liberia, where you had no help, no hope and no future. You were begging for help. Well, right now, they are crying for hope. And its people like you and me that can make a difference. We were born in what they regard as abundant luxury. The pint that you drink could buy them the food for a day, if not a week. I’m not asking you to jump on the next flight to Liberia or any other country and rescue those children nor am I asking you to donate your ‘binge’ money to charities. Far from that. I only beg you to genuinely contemplate that ‘scene’ in Monrovia and share your thoughts, ideas or even projects with others in the community, because it is through great ideas, and great people, that truly good and amazing things are achieved.

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