Monday, 1 March 2010

Why we do what we do

The BBC screened an excellent documentary last night. "Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children" followed three children as they struggled to make a life for themselves in a poor and devastated country. So racked by poverty that they didn't always eat, we saw one young boy talk with his grandmother, who told him of people who had filled their bellies by eating mud. This same boy, bright and intelligent, desperately tried to get into school, even though he couldn't raise $2 for a term's fees. He was one of nearly 900 children with unpaid fees, all hoping against hope that their poverty would not exclude them from the Government school.

We saw a young girl on a rubbish tip, collecting bones to sell to raise her school fees.

A tiny girl, crying with hunger, cared for her mother who had HIV/AIDS, and for her baby sister.

A reporter who grew up in the once prosperous country, whose tears flowed as she pointed out, "If children can no longer dream, we should all give up."

It was one of the finest documentaries I have seen in a long time.

Unfortunately, the stories it told are not rare. Nor are they confined to the ravaged country of Zimbabwe. Children wander the streets of Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and many other countries because they don't have the money to pay for school. Even in Kenya, where Government schools are free to attend, children cannot stay in the class if they don't pay, up front, for exams, books, uniform, etc.

In the Philippines, children don't just walk over rubbish tips and scavenge. They live there.

In the Congo, Uganda and many other places, young girls watch their parents die and then take on responsibility for younger siblings, giving up their lives to this cause.

They sleep rough on streets because they don't have the paltry rent for a slum dwelling.

In conflict zones, girls as young as 8 years old are trying to recover from gang rape by soldiers. Some bear children, a constant reminder of their pain and humiliation, and a constant source of shame.

Young boys are forced to fight in armies. They are sent in to the front line as cannon fodder.

Lives wrecked before they've had the chance to build.

World in Need has a presence in 20 countries. We work with children just like the ones shown in the film. Through sponsorship we endeavour to bring damaged children to healing, give deprived children love, education and hope, and build a future for them and their societies. Just 66 pence a day ($1) pays for a child's schooling, clothing, food and other essential expenses. It takes away the need for a child to work instead of attending school and brings a little fairness in an unfair world.

If you'd like to know about our sponsorship program, what happens, how it works, etc., feel free to ask us at

And if you'd like to see the documentary in the next week, you can, at

Together, we can make sure no child is ever forgotten.

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