Work with Children, End Poverty
Written by Regional NightCare Director, Matt Nathaniel
Note: Reference to children includes babies and toddlers too.
The world, in general, is not in the way it ought to be. Our greatest concern is poverty. The genuinely poor are those robbed of the ability to make choices for themselves – the choice for safe and clean water, the choice of education, the choice of protection from abuse, the choice of medical care, the choice of participation, the choice of development and more.
Children are Almost Half of the World’s Extreme Poor
1 in 7 people live in extreme poverty, or over 900 million people live in extreme poverty. Of these, a shockingly high number are children. Specifically, 47% of all people living in extreme poverty across the world are 18 years old or younger. These poor children will grow up to be poor adults. It indicates the need for child rights intervention.
Children are the Most Excluded Social Group
Research says children are the most oppressed and excluded social groups. The exclusion of children is not only subjected to children who suffer from various physical, mental, and social disadvantages, but it’s an issue common among most children. The problem is with our understanding of who children are and how we see and treat them.
The Most Powerless Members of Society are Children
We often see children being punished or ill-treated or abused just because they cannot retaliate due to their limitations. Harming a child is not an act of power. It conveys the fact that we are powerless. The bitter truth is, when the child experiences abuse, it grows in fear and misplaced trust. The babies Saving Moses works with are often subjected to mistreatment, abuse, and torture, either by their mother or the clients. They are always at risk.
Finding the Poor
A decade ago, I visited a government-run orphanage home in the south of India. On my very first visit, I noticed something strange. Throughout the two hours I spent with the babies in that center, the babies remained quiet. It simply did not add up. Being a father of a five-year-old, I know how much sound (crying in particular), part of a child’s communication mechanism is – whether to acknowledge or revolt or negotiate or attract the attention. Those babies probably cried at one time. They once tried to acknowledge, revolt, negotiate, or attract the attention of others. But help probably never came. And they probably decided to accept their reality and remain silent. We must go in search of the poor. It must be us who should take those first steps. We have to find those in need. We must become intentional in the way we defend the rights of children.
Seeing the Potential in Each Child
Each child deserves the right to protection, but they also deserve the opportunity to unleash their potential as they grow. Can you imagine the opportunity we as adults have for creating an impact in the lives of the little ones? When we invest our resources in them, we invest not only in their future but also in the future of society. Investing in children’s life is a gesture for the common good. Children have the potential to become agents of change.
Children Transform Us
As much as we must commit to impact the lives of the young ones, we can experience transformation through them. When we begin to see the world through the eyes of a child, we can only become pure in our hearts and minds. Children have the untainted inner faculties for creative imagination, conscience, connectedness, and intuition. Every time we spend time with children and babies, we experience change, change for better.
Working with children is urgent in terms of their vulnerability; at the same time, it is an excellent opportunity for change because they are the future. Below are three principles we all should remember.
a. Care for children because they are the most vulnerable.
b. Invest in children because they are the future, and we can break the cycle of poverty.
c. Spend time with children because they change us for the better.