Believe in ZERO

Over the past few months I have looked into a myriad of sources of information and studies performed on improving some of the world’s biggest issues, including educating the children of the world. I won’t go into all of the benefits from an increased education, but know that the upside is phenomenal. I think any rational person would be able to comprehend this simple fact.

But one big proponent of tackling some of these issues that I’ve followed closely is UNICEF. A short description from their website for anybody who doesn’t know who UNICEF is:

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when ZERO children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood.

I think my influence to even delve into such matters came from my experience in South Africa. I was working in a school, obviously I saw the benefit of making sure children were in school. But when I think about my relationships specifically with these children, and I read books about the hardship some people experience, my heart melts with a endearing wish to help resolve. I’m not affluent in any way, I don’t really have many resources at this time to invest in the resolutions, but I do have a voice and an avenue to share a little bit of information. I think the recognition of issues is pretty important. Hopefully I’ll continue to strive and do more as life progresses.

In a memoir I had the pleasure of reading, the author, Izzeldin Abuelaish, explains:

“Too many girls cannot get an education because of financial and cultural considerations. Too many families with limited resources give chances only to their sons even though their daughters are also serious and committed. I can understand their reasoning: a son is expected to support his parents in their old age, while a daughter usually moves away after marriage to live with her husband’s family. If a father doesn’t have enough money to educate all his children, he might decide it’s better to educate his sons, believing that his daughters will be taken care of by the families into which they marry... We have a saying that goes like this: The mother is the school. If you prepare the school with the right equipment, the students will be smarter and more successful and so will the nation. Consider the studies done by the World Bank and the North-South Institute that have found that if you pay attention to the health and education of women in a community, the economy of the village will turn around... there is evidence beyond any doubt that investing in women and girls is the way out of poverty and conflict.”

These exact resolutions are ones that UNICEF attempts to promote in their mission to achieve ZERO. Going to bat for education equality across the world is a big deal, and quite an undertaking.

Four years ago the number of children around the world who died every day of preventable causes – things like malnutrition, unsafe water, and diseases – stood at 26,000. Recently, UNICEF released figures showing that number has dropped to 19,000 – that's more than a 25% reduction in the mortality rate of children under 5 years old.

UNICEF has been fighting to bring that number to ZERO preventable childhood deaths. It may sound like a fantasy, but this recent announcement proves that we have the tools and technology to save millions of children. I believe it's possible. I believe in ZERO.

Child survival experts know how – and so much progress has been made since the first global commitment to end preventable deaths was made in 1982. The number of children dying needlessly every day has dropped from 39,000 to the recent amazing announcement of 19,000.

As encouraging as this progress is, it's not enough. The number should be ZERO. And I know that if the world commits to ZERO, we can get there.

Why not combat the most daunting of tasks? 

Just look into the eyes of an innocent child. See their smile. Listen to their laughter. I bet you’ll believe in a better world too.