As the clocks chimed heralding in 2020 there was a real sense of hope and focus that many enjoyed. However, as the year has continued this hope and focus has certainly dwindled. Recently, I have heard many say that they are looking forward to 2021 as this year has brought so many challenges. With the bushfires in Australia, the political quagmire surrounding the impeachment of the US President, the untimely death of the basketball legend Kobe Bryant, and now the global pandemic caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19) it is not surprising that many are struggling to feel hopeful for 2020. Yet, hope and a determined focus is exactly what we need right now.
Because having 2020 focus means maintaining that visual acuity – a clarity and sharpness of vision. 2020 vision does not mean perfect vision, as we all struggle with distractions and concerns, but, the ability to make the main thing the main thing is crucial right now.
This focus is crucial because coronavirus is adversely affecting children around the world, in horrible ways. The insidious impact on children includes increases in exploitation, gender-based violence, the death of a parent or caregiver, financial hardship, social exclusion and separation from caregivers. An understanding that the plight of vulnerable, abandoned and orphaned children is severely impacted by this global pandemic must spur us on and prompt us to take action.
Indeed, this is not simply conjecture, we know that “School closures during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, for example, contributed to spikes in child labor, neglect, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancies. In Sierra Leone, cases of teenage pregnancy more than doubled to 14,000 from before the outbreak.”
And this is not a problem just overseas, in America there are already reports of the coronavirus negatively impacting children in the foster care system in crucial areas such as family-visits.
What motivates me, is that I think of the children who have bounced around the foster care system who are trying desperately to believe that their new family will love and accept them, this understanding of the pain children endure and need to find better ways to help them drives Hopeland forward. Indeed, we don’t minimize the situation and we are keenly aware of the need for appropriate precautions to keep ourselves and others safe, but we are motivated by a deep conviction that we must and can do more for this vulnerable group.
We keep this focus because the vision is greater than the vehicle, the vehicles we use to achieve the vision can change but the vision holds firm as we press towards the ultimate goal. Indeed, technology offers us an opportunity to keep that connection. For example, we know that our friends at New York’s Administration for Children’s Services need to source desperately needed smartphones and technology to ensure children can maintain education and virtual family visits. If you can help please do so on this website.
We are guided by the belief that just because we need to be distant socially doesn’t mean we need to be socially distant. This is because technology allows us the gift of communicating and finding clever and more agile ways of communicating. This is also because, in moments like this, we are often able to recognize what really matters, which is family. In these uncertain times, it doesn’t mean we ignore the suffering we see around us, quite the opposite; instead, this hardship fuels our conviction that we must fight for others. It is understandable to be afraid of Coronavirus, but what we should be most afraid of is that we lose our humanity and the 2020 vision that guides us forward.