I wonder how much coverage International Human Solidarity Day will have on 20th December this year, or if many of those reading this have ever heard of it?
The idea of the United Nations supported day is to celebrate human unity in diversity and to remind people of the importance of solidarity in working to eradicate poverty.
That all sounds very nice, but 2016 has felt at times like we have been doing the opposite of using human diversity to unite us. Various elections and referendums seem to have used human diversity as a negative message – dividing people by colour, religion or birth place, making us fear the differences in each other rather than celebrate them. Maybe this is driven by increasing inequality between rich and poor both within and between different countries, social media echo chambers that reinforce our fears and a post truth world that provides little opportunity to genuinely learn more about each other – who knows and does it matter?
WE ARE ALL HUMAN and WE ALL SHARE THIS PLANET and if we are not united then I wonder what future there is for humanity?
So what is the counter balance to dividing people?
Well, uniting them seems like a good idea and believe it or not, there is plenty going on to try and achieve this! If we look beyond the minute-by-minute headlines and our social media feeds at what is actually being done by governments, United Nations institutions, NGO’s and civil society activists there is a much more positive trend.
You may not have heard that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) moved over 1 billion people out of poverty, enrolled 90% of the world’s children into free education, and gave more than 2 billion more people are able to access safe water. These are aspects of life we all take for granted – but just a few days without them and we would start to suffer and panic. Yet, over a billion people on this planet still live every day without these basic needs being met.
In 2016 the MDG’s were superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals – 170 countries committed to continuing to address the planets needs and of creating a more equal and sustainable world for our future and our children’s future.
Where do we fit in?
At Children in Crossfire, our staff and partners in Ireland, Tanzania and Ethiopia are doing their best to support these big global ideas by targeting some of the most vulnerable people in those countries. In Ireland, we are helping teachers and school children understand development and the world around them a bit better – teaching compassion as well as curriculum facts. The focus of our International Programmes is Early Childhood Development – giving children the best start in life is essential in helping them reach their potential.
It is a proven fact that children who are well nourished and stimulated at home from birth and access quality early education before going to Primary school perform better, not only in terms of education outcomes, but also in the long term across their whole lives. We believe that the more opportunities people have and the more we know about each other, the more we can understand our differences and the better chance there is for everyone.
To us, International Human Solidarity day is a chance to celebrate diversity, to remember how amazing we all are in that diversity and only by reducing inequality, by understanding each other better do we reduce fear and increase the idea that diversity is what makes human beings grow, develop and improve.
Matt Banks – Head of International Programmes, Children in Crossfire