Years ago I was on a flight with my younger daughter who was five at the time. She was looking out with wonder over a blanket of clouds below us.
“We don’t look like clouds,” I said, “but we are all made mostly from clouds.”
She turned to see if I was serious. “It’s true,” I insisted. “We are made mostly of water. That water started out as clouds that then turned to rain. The rain watered the plants we eat and gave us the fresh water we drink.”
I thought about that conversation later when I saw the words etched on the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC. They were words he wrote from a jail in Birmingham in 1963:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”
Beyond the shock or pity we may feel, we are morally present in that child, that family, that country. Some part of us is enslaved as long as that child is enslaved. Some part of us is homeless as long as that family is homeless. Some part of us is humiliated when the dignity of people is denigrated.
Over the months they move from greater awareness, reconciliation, and healing to a place where they are seeing the attitudes and systems that perpetuate the hurt and injustice, and they begin to organize and to take action to change those systems. It is moving to see, for example, people who once trafficked or enslaved children become passionate advocates for the rights of children.
From 2010 to 2017, nearly 40,000 Haitians participated in our Child Rights Training, and another 60,000 have taken part in training to prevent violence against women and girls. Many have gone on to form local Child Protection Brigades that work on the front lines in the struggle against child slavery, or have become grassroots advocates dedicated to balancing power between women and men.
In both urban and rural communities, the demand for these training are huge, so our goal is to continue to expand them throughout Haiti.