As a mother of a three year old, I find that causes concerning children impact me more than ever. I feel there is much truth in the african proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. If we don’t stand up to be their voices, who will?
Currently 1.5 million children in developing countries die each year of a preventable disease like pneumonia, rotavirus (diarrhea), measles and polio.
Put another way, one child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that could have been prevented by a vaccine. That’s three lives lost in a minute.
In the US only 20-60 children die from Rotavirus each year. Globally, this many die PER HOUR.
In areas of Africa, they don’t name their children until they have survived measles because of the high death rate.
One in 5 children do not even have access to these life-saving vaccines.
A child should not die of simply because their mothers and fathers come from a place where these vaccinations are not readily available or affordable. Where you are born should not be a determinate of whether you live or die.
— Jeana (@SurfnSunshine) February 11, 2013
“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”- Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa
Representing 37 states, one hundred moms, dads, students, professionals, and activists who believe that children are our most valuable resources and in the importance of global vaccines, converged at the 2013 Shot@Life Champion Summit in Washington D.C just two weeks ago. I am honored to say that I stood tall (all 5 feet 2 inches of me) amongst them.
To be perfectly honest, the evening before our big day, I was panic stricken. I had never done anything like this and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Even though I was in the company of several wonderful bloggers I know and love, the majority of the men and women I had never met before. But, you know what? As we sat in round tables learning about Shot@Life, hearing from other UN Foundation Partners and listening to each other’s personal stories, I couldn’t help but be inspired. More than inspired, really - invigorated.
Together, we stormed (or at least walked with strong purpose) Capitol Hill, and requested audiences with our respective members of congress and asked them to keep global health a top priority on their agendas this year. For how far we traveled, I was surprised that our California group of Shot@Life Champions was amongst the largest at (lucky number) 13 caring individuals. We visited the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as Congressman Henry Waxman and Congresswoman Barbara Lee and each gave our own heartfelt stories of why we felt the need to be there in person, speaking of this bipartisan, humanitarian cause. They each responded favorably and stated that they were proponents for this cause. I really had no idea that a nobody like me could simply walk onto Capitol Hill and have my concerns heard by my state representatives. I was and am still impressed. The Shot@Life Champion team held meetings with 100 public figures that day, advocating for this cause. One Hundred!
“I chose not to pursue med school. I never got a chance to volunteer in a developing country. But I get to do this. Advocate for life saving vaccinations for children in countries where it’s needed most. Invest in a healthier world for my son. And I’m just as proud to do so.” – me. posted to my Facebook page
After our day at Capitol Hill, we spent a full day immersed in Shot@Life Champion training. I felt like I was in college again, all decked out with my notepad, pen and Surface computer, but this time, I was thrilled and eager to be “in class”. We received important education on vaccines from Dr. Margaret Fisher, Medical Director of The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center and Amy Pisani, the Executive Director of Every Child By Two. As I diligently took notes, I realized that there was a vast variety of misconceptions about vaccines. In silence, I pledged to myself to use my social media presence and voice as a mother to help dispel these notions.
“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.“- David Bly
So please join me. Please join US. Follow the #globalvax hashtag on Twitter. Or choose to take a step further and do even more:
- Submit your email and zipcode to pledge your support to Shot@Life
- Send a letter to your member of Congress and tell them that robust funding for global health and global vaccines is a priority for you. (Shot@Life does all of the work, just fill in your contact information.)
If you’d like to do more to help Shot@Life, then please join team Surf and Sunshine at Shot@Life. Your voice and your support can change a child’s life forever. Just $20 immunizes a child against 4 preventable diseases and very possibly saves their life. Give a child the chance to grow up and BE something. Give them a Shot at Life.
I am a 2013 Shot@Life Champion and was invited to Washington, D.C to attend the summit, expenses paid. All opinions are 100% mine.