It is difficult to imagine anything good resulting from the senseless and devastating September 11th terrorist attacks. But in the days and weeks after 9/11, I witnessed something positive and incredible: people coming together to heal the emotional wounds of kids in New York City, and taking that healing to kids around the world.
I'm the co-founder of a company called Bright Horizons Family Solutions, which runs childcare and early education centers at workplaces across the United States. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, my attention focused on our downtown Manhattan center in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. building -- just one block from Ground Zero. Children and caregivers anxiously awaited the return of parents, many of whom worked in the World Trade Center, and the center became a makeshift support area for shocked survivors.
Amazingly, none of our parents were lost but the anxiety and trauma were tremendous for everyone. One preschooler summed it up: he looked out at the massive destruction, and asked, "What happened to our world?"...
...9/11 was just the beginning for Comfort for Kids. The program was so successful that Mercy Corps subsequently implemented it -- often in partnership with Bright Horizons -- in a range of disaster zones like post-Katrina New Orleans, the war-battered Gaza Strip, and earthquake-rattled areas of China, Haiti, Peru, Chile and Japan. Later this month, Mercy Corps will bring Comfort for Kids to parents and kids in the conflict-torn Libyan city of Misrata.