My fondest birthday memory is of a blue bunt cake. Teddy grahams, iced out with bathing suits, laid in the blue on Life Savor inner tubes (only the bravest of the grahams hung near the gum stick diving board). My mom made me this cake on June 12th when I turned four. Twenty-one years later, with a quarter of a century under my belt, that cake reminds me of a childhood filled with love and stability and naiveté.
For the past twelve years I’ve shared my birthday with the World Day Against Child Labour. My childhood experience makes it difficult, if not impossible, for me to truly understand the reality of these children’s lives.
I’ve been to the rock quarry in Liberia. I’ve seen it. I’ve heard stories of children dying there. But as I stare at this picture—one that I saw taken—the day to day of this boy’s life still has trouble sinking in. Everything about it is so foreign to me—a world away from teddy grahams and blue icing.
This lack of understanding carries with it a heaviness that makes me feel helpless. In 2008, over 215 million children between the ages of 5-17 were considered child laborers.* That means that, if child laborers made up their own country, they would be the 5th largest in the world.
Working at VisionTrust I’ve learned that just because something feels helpless doesn’t mean it is. The number of child laborers is declining, and we can help.
The highest number of child laborers are in the poorest 20% of households.
By sponsoring a child for $40 a month, you’re easing burdens for these families in education, medical care and food. When they recognize the future their child could have through these programs, they will no longer see labor as their only option.
This year for my birthday, as I look back on my childhood, my hope is to give more children a childhood of their own. I hope that you’ll partner with me in changing one child’s life and eventually, the 215 million.
To learn more and sponsor a child head to:
*Photo in this post taken by Matt Reed.