As children move to the front of the world’s agenda, Christian groups and governments discuss turning rhetoric into reality.
For eight-year-old Bebe Jerry of Mozambique, life itself is a precarious proposition. His family was displaced in 1988 by the ongoing civil war, and rebel soldiers often prevent the flow of emergency food to dislocated people. Four of Bebe’s eight brothers and sisters have already died from whooping cough and diarrhea. In Mozambique, approximately 250 children of 1,000 born die by age five.
Just a few weeks ago, Mozambican President Joaquim Alberto Chissano came to the United Nations in New York with a promise to make life better for children like Bebe. “We regard the peace efforts we are making in our country as a contribution to the search of ways and means to provide the Mozambican child with family stability, peace, security, and tranquility,” he said. But Bebe is a long way from New York.
This year world leaders have been giving unprecedented attention to children and the problems to which they are particularly vulnerable. International agencies—including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund—have released reports and held discussions on issues threatening children worldwide.
Franklin Graham, president of the Christian relief group Samaritan’s Purse, observed that the emphasis on children is nothing new. He said Christian organizations have been involved in the effort to save and enhance children’s lives for more than 100 years.
Graham added that he is skeptical about governments’ abilities to address the problems facing children. “They will pour millions of dollars into programs, and ...1
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