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Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 16th is The International Day of the African Child

“The Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.  In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot, the most famous of which being Hector Peterson (see image). More than a hundred people were killed in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured.”  (Source Wikepedia)

Today, I had the privilege of attending the beginning of The International Day of the African Child events being held in Swaziland.  There were 700+ children from eight different Children’s Homes who gathered together to celebrate education and life through song, stories, skits and dance.  Of course our children are still too young to be doing any performance, but I took the opportunity to share with the children in attendance about who El Roi (the God Who Sees) really is and how He has a plan for each of their lives.  It was also decided that I should bring Baby Deborah with me (affectionately known as Baby Debs) to show a real live example of how God really does see things that people may not want seen.

If you have not read Deborah’s story please go to so that you know who she is.  Needless to say, she “performed” beautifully while sitting on my lap, and just smiled at the audience as they gasped at the horror of her story.  Sadly, each and every child sitting in that room has a story equally horrific to Deborah’s, but there we were, gathered together to celebrate the African child and all of the tragic stories that come with them.  In spite of it all, there was joy in the room and the presence of God was with us.

The problems on this continent are vast and complicated.  Poverty affects the issue of hunger.  Hunger drives people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do morally and sexually.  Poor moral and sexual choices bring many layers of health issues and death. Death creates orphans and vulnerable children who are living in poverty and hungry. And the circle begins again.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  So many African children have no chance at an education at all (let alone a GOOD education) so they are forced to turn to other weapons that will kill and destroy - weapons like “hopelessness”. 

As I watched the older children perform today I was thankful for all the people who have supported the other Children’s Homes in Swaziland and on the continent of Africa.  Without international support these homes would not exist and these children would not be breaking the cycle of poverty.

I also became overwhelmed with gratitude to the women from the US Bank who raised the funds to build the Sisekelo Preschool and who are committed to educating children in Swaziland and in Kenya. They understand the importance of education and how it can change the future of a nation, a continent and our Global Village.  They have busy lives and serve in high-level jobs, but they are 100% committed to hosting golf tournaments, selling jewelry or hosting dinner parties to raise awareness and the funds needed to make a difference.  I am grateful to Pam Joseph, Beth Blaisdell and the amazing women at WLA. Thank you friends.

I am a huge Michael Jackson fan and I was listening to his song “Man in the Mirror” the other day. I love the line that says, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”  RIP Michael, but may those words of truth live on.  Today I will look in the mirror and make another change, and tomorrow I hope to do the same.  What about you?

As those of us living in Africa count down the next seven days to week to June 16th to the celebration of The International Day of the African Child, I hope that you will be thinking about these children too.  It may not typically be a day that is celebrated where you live, but it could be this year.

Live from Swaziland … heading to the mirror.


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