Do you ever sit around and wonder what's going on on the other side of the world right now? What are people your age up to? What are their lives like? How would your life be different if you happened to be born there and not here? Sometimes I do, but other times I forget that there is a world outside of the small one that I live in. The one with clean water, safe streets, and great internet access, where I worry about not getting enough "likes" to my status updates but have never once worried about kids getting paralyzed from polio or dying from the measles.
Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend the Shot@Life Champion Summit with over one hundred amazing individuals from across the US, including the brilliant, brave, and beautiful Momma Data herself. We got to hear incredible stories of the good that people were doing in reducing the incidence of disease in developing nations, and take in pictures of these adorable children who had been vaccinated through our campaign. Sitting there in that posh DC hotel, all energized and inspired, I likened these kids to be somewhat like baby unicorns--wild and mythical creatures, existing in a strange faraway land, prancing around like magic and leaving a trail of rainbows in their wake.
There is nothing wrong with this image, children are magical creatures for sure, but it was inaccurate as it was insensitive. When I got home Wednesday afternoon, after not seeing my 2-year-old son for 5 days and missing him like mad, the reality of the situation hit me with the shock, pain, and urgency of stepping on a Lego barefoot. These kids were getting sick, getting paralyzed, and dying, and they are just as real as the beautiful creature before me, as real as the scar on my shin or the dishes in the sink. They don't exist in a mythical, faraway land--they live a plane ride away. An airplane that could be filled with vaccines or volunteers or some kind of acknowledgement that having 3 kids die every damn minute from vaccine-preventable illnesses is not OK. Just because we can't see the problem nor fathom it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist or that we can't do some small thing to help it.
So here's what you can do.
-Donate $5 to my fundraising page and you've protected a child from measles AND polio for the rest of their life. It also buys you the right to act all sanctimonious all day. Go ahead, you deserve it! If monetary donations aren't your thing, don't worry, there are lots of other ways you can help kids, like...
-Get the Charity Miles app on your phone and you can direct donations towards Shot@Life for just doing the walking, running, or biking that you normally do.
-Go to www.shotatlife.org and pledge your support like 192,972 people and counting have done.
-Advocate! Email your elected officials to tell them to continue funding for global vaccination. This is super duper important right now! Even better, meet with their staff and talk to them face to face like we did--all it takes is a phone call to their office.
|Vaccines in Mozambique: Stuart Ramson, UN Foundation|
--Check out www.shotatlife.org for more ideas, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Then do like Momma Data and share the campaign with your blog or Facebook and Twitter followers! Had I not read about Shot@Life on this blog, I would have never had this great adventure in Washington, so please blog em if you got em, people are reading and you never know who's going to act on what you post!
There's something that everyone can do right now, no matter what time it is, where you are, or whether or not you're wearing pants. There's something you can do, and you must do, because every kid deserves a shot at life.