I was with some colleagues today discussing the plight of the children of the world. Sometimes, I think that if I just keep talking, something will come of it. I'm optimistic and hopeful even though the statistics are ugly, alarming and outrageous.
Tony Lake, head of UNICEF, wrote a beautiful piece for Lancet in 2011 in which he referred to the loss of developmental potential for children in the modern world as an "outrage." The research and scholarship on this subject is outstanding as researchers continue to reveal the complex issues of early childhood development in poor children all over the world. When you factor in the long term effects of malnutrition, lack of pre-natal care and stimulation, abuse, neglect, gender inequity, early marriage, child trafficking, child labor, child conscription and institutionalization, it is a fair estimate that half the world's children are living a marginalized life.
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And when the question is how do we care for 153 million orphans, the solution is not adoption. Rather, it's about about strategic and thoughtful work to build communities and provide access to medical care and education for children from the moment they are born... to support women so that they can be educated and grow the economic strength of their communities.
It's about preventing poverty and providing hope. There are many models of community-based care and creative tools to help children and families grow and be successful but investment in social work infrastructure and community worker training programs are essential to any model. Midwives, vaccinators, community workers and case managers are the wave of the future.
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