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Every child should be in the picture

Liberia, November 16, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Photo: Bija Gutoff/Mercy Corps

In Parker Town, Gbarpolu County, in the north of Liberia where Mercy Corps has a number of agriculture programs, I rounded up these children for a group portrait.

I guided the older ones to stand in back and brought the smaller ones to the front. This everyday exercise, where we live (as a mother, how many times have I heard my own daughter or her friends grumble about the obligatory group photo?), seemed to be an entirely new experience for these kids.

Still, like children everywhere, they quickly got the idea, and a few were soon posing and posturing. Each child is so different. The thumbs-up boy in the blue t-shirt seemed a natural leader. The girl in the turquoise v-neck dress had an intensely frank and honest look about her. The one in bright green was so open and friendly. And the littlest ones, though a bit wary, were eager to take their place up front.

Every child wanted to be in the picture. And that's the way it should be: every child should be in the picture. Each one can grow up to make a contribution to Liberia's recovery, if they simply get the essentials: nutritious food, a decent education, a chance.