I’ve been in Washington, D.C. this week to learn how to be a more effective champion for Shot@Life. There is so much reeling in my head and tearing at my heart. All the statistics of childhood disease and death are not faceless numbers in an infograph. With every statistic I see the vivid whites of the eyes of the children I met in Uganda. I see the chubby baby arms that get poked with life saving vaccines for the first time. I see the look of despair, relief, hope, and comfort in the faces of the mothers who walked barefoot for miles with a child nestled to her hip and another holding her hand.
I think of this and the life I take for granted. I left one son sick and returned home to the other one sick. Mac Daddy was sick in between and kept the ship sailing while I was away. Even the dog had diarrhea. I realized that the biggest issue for us when our children have a stomach bug is the clean up. This is particularly hard for lame-o’s like us who have a strong gag reflex and a weak stomach. Never have we worried about our children’s life when they start to vomit (except for the time my babies were hospitalized with rotavirus…different, frightening experience all around). As we scrub, wipe, and launder, we worry about our children and feel bad when they feel bad (just like a Manilow song). But never do we feel fear. I marvel daily at what we take for granted and how lucky we are. I believe what we take for granted is commensurate to what we should give back. We are not meant to be parasites on this planet.
I so love the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life program because it brings our world closer and opens up the sisterhood of motherhood. We are talking about saving the lives of children and the hearts of mothers. We are this close to eradicating polio on this planet. Small pox lives in a locked up vial somewhere, the only disease ever eradicated from the world. We are on the verge of bidding farewell to polio too. What a feat! I’m tell you people, just Google small pox to see the devastation of this disease. We have vaccines to thank for its demise. This is what we should be celebrating on Valentine’s Day. Forget the shot of a candy heart sugar rush, give a child a shot at life.