Tag Archives: UNICEF

On my heart and mind: children

Child soldiersA while back, I posted a sermon about children. Grieving the many places where children endure unimaginable violation, it affirms our call to care for children:

In this place, I am reminded that God is at work in all places. And that sustains and challenges me to look for how God is at work and, as the Holy Spirit gives me grace, to join in that work.

Children have been in my heart and on my mind this week.

Faith in God in Christ have put them there.

And in this place, God invites us all to join in caring for the children. The children of this congregation. The children of this community. All the children, all God’s children of the world. May we hear and respond.

Today, my friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz posted a reflection on children “Children Aren’t Disposable“. She reaches a similar conclusion:

I think children matter. I think everyone’s child matters. I do not believe that parents or communities or even children need to be virtuous or free of fault in order to think their children and perhaps even their parents deserve protection and generosity. You can make all the bad decisions you want, but I still believe you and your children deserve life. I extrapolated this from the lesson my parents drummed into me: You do not have to earn grace. It has already been given.

Children matter. Their families matter. Grace has already been given. Let’s act like it.

And she does a better job of lifting up ways to act:

Support the Children’s Defense Fund. They do great work at a policy level.

Read Toxic Charity. Consider changing your mission to be less charity and offers more agency to people. Bulk discounts (for your Sunday school or book group) are available. http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com/Products/9780062076212/toxic-charity–paperback-edition.aspx

Write letters to migrant children. http://www.groundswell-mvmt.org/faithshare/people-are-writing-letters-to-the-migrant-children-and-they-are-beautiful/

Advocate for immigration reform that will allow people dignity and a path to regularization. Congress has recessed for August, so there isn’t legislation to advocate for. But you can still leave a message with your U.S. and state congresspeople urging them to support meaningful immigration reform and humane immigration processes, particularly for children and their parents who may be eligible for asylum, rather than increased criminalization and security measures. TheThoughtfulChristian.com has many books and downloadable studies to help you and your church talk about immigration and take action.

Oppose zero-tolerance policies in schools, stop and frisk public policing, and other ways that disproportionately criminalize black and brown youth.

You may give to UNICEF and UNRWA, who work with children in Gaza and the occupied territories. You can also ask your congresspeople to reconsider our typical military aid package to the nation of Israel. You could work with local peace organizations to advocate for an end to the blockade and the occupation.

Children matter. Join in caring for them.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Current Events, Friends

Hunger: 14 May 2014


17 October 2012
McCormick Days
Chicago, Illinois

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Filed under Photo, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

When ten minutes equals a day

How often do you use your smartphone during the day? How long passes between each usage? If you are like me, you may not know.

Over the past ten days or so, I have become a bit more aware of my phone usage as I have participated in the UNICEF Tap Project. This project invites us to go without your phone to help children in need of clean water.

For every ten minutes you don’t touch your phone, UNICEF Tap Project donors and sponsors can fund one day of clean water for a child in need.* It’s that simple.

Here’s how to take part:

  1. Visit uniceftapproject.org on your phone.
  2. Begin the challenge right away to see how long you can go without your phone.
  3. The application will tell you how long you have done so and how many days of water the donors and sponsors will fund.

Of course this is not the most efficient way to provide water for children. The donors and sponsors could and should simply provide the funds directly. I could and should make a direct contribution.

I know that. But I take part anyway. The act of not using my phone serves to remind me of my brothers and sisters who live day after day after day without access to necessities.

I make no comparison. Not using my phone is a choice about a luxury. As UNICEF notes when it comes to water:

No one can survive without water, and yet 768 million people around the world do not have safe, clean water to drink. 2.5 billion people don’t have access to a proper toilet.

It isn’t just inconvenient – it’s lethal.

Every day, 1,400 children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or a lack of basic sanitation facilities.

The UNICEF Tap Project helps me remember. It challenges me to act with compassion and to seek justice so that water will roll down for all.

Here’s some more details on the project:

UNICEF works in more than 100 countries to improve access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Whether by restoring access to clean water after a disaster or promoting safe hygiene practices in schools and communities, UNICEF is on the ground helping children in need.

What is the UNICEF Tap Project?

The UNICEF Tap Project is a nationwide campaign that provides clean water and adequate sanitation to children around the world.

With just $5, UNICEF can give one child safe drinking water for 200 days.

Since 1990, more than 2.1 billion people have gained access to clean drinking water thanks to the work of UNICEF and its partners.

Founding Agency Partner Droga5 and Media Sponsor MediaVest are supporting the UNICEF Tap Project once again this year. The project is also supported by:

National Sponsor

Giorgio Armani Fragrances
For the fifth year, Giorgio Armani Fragrances returns as national sponsor of the UNICEF Tap Project through its Acqua for Life campaign. Read more.

National Media Sponsor

Since 2008, MediaVest has been a proud supporter of the UNICEF Tap Project, producing a national pro bono media campaign to build awareness throughout the month of March. Read more.

Premier Supporter

UNICEF’s Next Generation
A diverse group of young professionals with a shared commitment to UNICEF’s future, UNICEF’s Next Generation joins the UNICEF Tap Project as time sponsor this year.

*Subject to the pledged limits from our generous donors and sponsors. See uniceftapproject.org/legal for more information. Standard data rates will apply.

See you along the Trail

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Filed under Human Rights, United Nations

A new perspective on ants

Last summer the Ghost Ranch Service Corps drew the task of cleaning the labyrinth. In the process of removing a bush, I hit upon a nest of ants. They climbed the shovel. They climbed inside my pants and socks. They boldly went places I did not want them to go. They showed up a couple of hours later.There seemed to number in the thousands; there were probably only a couple dozen. I can still feel them crawling on me as I remember.

Today I read a story that puts my experience in perspective. I will not complain about it again.

Famine stalks the Sahel region of Africa. I looked up the Sahel. Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as a

semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south. The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and into The Sudan.

The hunger season has come to the Sahel. UNICEF estimates that 1 million children are in danger of dying from severe acute malnutrition. They go on to note that:

Over 15 million people in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal are directly affected by the crisis. And although the people of the Sahel are resilient, their position has been weakened by successive emergencies. The region suffered droughts in 2005 and 2010, and many families were forced to sell their livestock, pull children out of school, borrow money and get by with less food.

UNICEF estimates that it needs $120 million to feed the 1 million children under age 5 who will need lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

As you might imagine, people facing such a situation will do most anything to survive. I think I have a good imagination. But it turns out that I could not begin to imagine what people might do.

From the Inter Press Service (emphasis added):

During a recent stop in the capital, Stephen Cockburn, Oxfam International West Africa’s regional coordinator for campaigns and policy, described desperate measures he had seen in the countryside. “In Tassino, a village in the Mangalmé district in the central part of Guéra, women are breaking apart anthills, searching for grain stored there by ants,” he said.

Women are breaking apart anthills, searching for grain stored there by ants.

My heart breaks to read those words. My mind reels as I struggle to imagine that experience – the desperate courage that leads to such an act – and the ants – everywhere the ants.

I made a gift to UNICEF and took a silent vow never to complain about the ants again.

See you along the Trail.

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UNICEF Tap Project

Can you buy a round – of water?

You can if you make a gift to the UNICEF Tap Project.

Too many children in too many places do not have access to clean water.  Lots of folks, including some funded by UNICEF, work very hard to change that – and things are getting better.

March 22 brings World Water Day – what better time to raise a glass and share a glass?

Check out this Tap Project video for more details.

See you along the Trail.





Filed under Human Rights

I ate the chocolate

I ate the chocolate.

And I made a contribution to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

To the meeting of Presbyterian Social Ethicists, my friend brought a cauldron, some Fair Trade Chocolate, and Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes.

“Why are you bringing chocolate?” I asked. “People will never eat it.”

It appears my friend was correct. Again.

Hopefully others will find some way to support the work of UNICEF this week and through the year.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Food, Friends