A child is a child—it doesn’t much matter whether he has the broad dark face of Malawi, the thinner brown one of Ethiopia or fine, blond hair and blue eyes. The sound of children on a playground is the same throughout the world.
On this trip, I hugged a few kids, tickled a few bellies, bought a stick wrapped in plastic from one dressed in rags from the window of a car, even scared one and sent her scampering back to her mother. In the slums of Nairobi, children played in open sewage on narrow dirt paths and called out “How are you?” over and over. Tattered shirts handed down from wealthier countries with phrases such as ‘Holly Hill Softball Team’ were draped over their torsos. Most did not have shoes. Malnutrition and probably worms swell their abdomens, distorting their usual proportions.
On a quiet Sunday morning in a village outside of Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, a group of 6 small children inched closer to me, afraid to approach until I smiled and called out ‘hello’. Then, 6 smiles and 6 extended hands, requiring formal handshakes and an exchange of names. Will sat among them on the ground for a picture, looking like a folded white giant.
These children, like ours, are the world’s next generation. We will leave them our problems, our victories, our challenges. Some will survive and succeed. Some will not. They will be artists and entrepreneurs and have all the collective talent and greed and hope and cruelty that defines humanity.
Life is inherently unfair, and always will be, But, I believe we should act as if we truly are one global family, and work to give every child the basic requirements for a healthy start to the future: clean water, adequate and nutritious food, an education and a warm home and loving caretakers; the chance to be the best they can be.