Happy Sponsored Kids Friday! I hope you all had a great Fourth of July holiday. We had the holiday off at Abenity, but now we’re back in the swing of things and are ready to tell you more about World Vision and the kids we sponsor.
I got a World Vision email a while back about an effect of the pandemic I hadn’t truly considered. Here in the states, COVID-19 has certainly affected us in many ways. Families have had to homeschool, businesses have been closed for long enough that they are struggling to reopen, travel has been restricted and plans have been cancelled, and of course, many, many people have died. All the same is true in countries that experience extreme poverty. However, an important lesson for us to learn is that even in one of the toughest times in our country’s recent history, our general wealth is actually protecting us from further horrors. How can that be so?
Remember in the past when I’ve talked about the effects of our sponsored kids’ parents being out of work? In those cases, the Child Protection Fund we’ve donated to is critical, as it exists to keep children from being sold off into early marriage or child labor to help relieve their parents of their financial burden. Part of the reason World Vision is so vital in areas where unemployment is high or wages are too low is that it is always the already-vulnerable who are most affected by difficult times.
That being said, when families already stricken by poverty are faced with something like a pandemic, children’s safety immediately becomes a concern. In general, during conflicts and crises, violence against specifically girls and women has been shown to dramatically increase. That can manifest as domestic violence (which we see here in the states, too), but also as child marriage, child labor, and sadly, even child sex trafficking. Many families are tricked by “handlers” into thinking their child will be given good work in a neighboring city, and agree to essentially release their children (primarily girls) to them. This may come with an initial payment that could keep the family afloat, or may simply come with the promise of future monthly payments from their children. Instead, many children becomes victims and are sold into a modern manifestation of slavery.
Furthermore, World Vision estimates that there will be an additional 13 million child marriages over the next 10 years due to the increased financial strain caused by COVID-19 – adding to the 150 million already expected to occur in that time period. Yes, this pandemic may have serious ripple affects for the next decade, primarily in countries that have already been victims to extreme poverty and conflict. Additionally, and this really doesn’t need to be said, child marriage is a form of violent abuse. While it has been outlawed in many places, it can be difficult to enforce the law against it in rural areas, and it robs children of many things – their emotional/mental health, physical safety, an education, and a childhood. If you’d like to read more about the “aftershocks” of this pandemic globally, you can download the WV publication here: shorturl.at/JOXZ0
World Vision says this, “Gender-based violence usually isn’t the first consideration at the start of a crisis. But the safety of girls shouldn’t be an afterthought. The Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act would strengthen coordination among humanitarian responders, provide survivor-centered services, and empower women and girls to be leaders in helping their communities return to normalcy.” WV has created 2 ways for us to help:
- WV has created a great form online that will allow you to email your senators about your support for the Act mentioned above. You can go here to fill it out:
- They have also created an online petition calling on governments and institutions to increase funding to protect children from the violence associated with crisis. Sign here:
Now, to meet another friend of ours, a teenager from Sinthiang Koundara, Senegal. Everyone, say hello to Marie! Marie is 15, loves to read, and speaks Fulani. She is an only child and lives with her parents, who are unfortunately both unemployed. Marie is why it’s so important to email your senators and sign the above petition. Marie deserves to be safe, to pursue an education, and have a bright future. As we continue to experience the effects of this pandemic on our own lives, let’s remember our sponsored kids, too.