As we ring in a new year, my sister and brother-in-law are beginning a new life chapter. Their first child was recently born, and this 6.7-pound bundle has changed all of our lives. I see my sister and her husband altering their priorities, based on a desire to give this little girl the chance to live, love, laugh and learn. I see my family gravitating towards her innocent energy, almost as if she holds a cosmic force. I notice how friends, family and even strangers take an interest in new life and the constant process of discovery that accompanies it.
It makes me think about the little ones I’ve come across in other parts of the globe while visiting Mercy Corps’ field offices. A little boy in Kyrgyzstan, living in a neighborhood that had recently been torched and pillaged. A group of Colombian children who shared school space with other youth who had been victims of child labor. I know that their families have as much love for their children but perhaps not as much hope, as they have seen what limited opportunities their circumstances will permit.
I have the utmost respect for Mercy Corps’ field staff (95 percent of whom are country nationals) — they are the ones who work with families, providing resources to rebuild lives after severe conflict tries to destroy hope. They are the ones who show children and families that “it doesn’t have to be this way,” offering alternative routes and networks of support.
Millions of babies are born every year to families all across the socio-economic spectrum. The new babies of the world deserve all the love and opportunity I know my niece will have.
As 2011 begins, I continue to be humbled by Mercy Corps’ beneficiaries, who translate Mercy Corps' programs into real change. I suspect it is in part due to a determination to survive but even more so a desire to protect and nurture that which their lives revolve — their little cosmic bundles.