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Picked prematurely

Before I pull out my handy dandy notebook of songs and such, I just wanted to get out some of the basics on the Millennium Goal I'm focusing on - Reducing Child Mortality.

The specific goal is to reduce the mortality rate of children under 5 years old by two thirds. According to the 2015 Millennium Campaign's website, 1 of every 10 kids dies before the age of five in a low income country. Even more scary? 1,200 kids under the age of five die every hour from a cause that should be easily preventable. What is causing these innocent children to die? Based on information from UNICEF, over 70% are due to diarrhea, malaria, neonatal infections, pneumonia, pre-term deliveries, or lack of oxygen at birth.

So what's the plan, Stan? "Transform health systems for women and children", says UNDP. Well I hope they have something more specific in mind because that's a pretty damn vague answer for the severity of this situation.

Ok, here we go...

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Luckily, we're not building from square one. UNICEF and other organizations around the world have been working hard at making vaccines, clean water, and better sanitation readily available. They're also working to educate mothers and families so they can improve their home health care practices. But there are still children dying - many people still aren't being reached.

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One effort being done that really resonated with me is a project put in by iCross Canada. They make and send "African Comfort Dolls" along with HIV/AIDS drugs and other medical supplies. These dolls are doing double duty - serving as packing protection for the medicines and equipment while en route to Africa, and then serving as a source of comfort once they are distributed to children in the community being served. Many of these kids are sick themselves, and sadly, some go to their graves with those dolls.

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This one hits a personal note. This picture's actually missing the majority of our family members, but there's one person that will always be missing. My mom's little sister died at the age of three, when my mom was eight years old. If you think about it though, this was only *one* child. She had a funeral and she has a clean grave in the Albany cemetery where we can visit as often as we want. Think of all the families, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, who lose a child, multiple children, or siblings; think of those who don't have the means to have a funeral; those who don't have the money to make or buy a casket.. and then times it by 1200.. every day.

Soul Influence (different from The Soul Influence!) is an amazing a capella group based in Toronto, Canada, with a mission that's reflected in their name: to influence souls through their music. They're really taking action - not only are they the AIDS Ambassadors of Africa to the world, they've raised millions of dollars for various organizations bringing shelter, food, healthcare, and education children all over Africa. Check them out for yourself at http://www.soulinfluence.org

"There will be no rescue, no intervention for us. We can only save ourselves. Many of you know influential people abroad, you must call these people. You must tell them what will happen to us... say goodbye. But when you say goodbye, say it as if you are reaching through the phone and holding their hand. Let them know that if they let go of that hand, you will die. We must shame them into sending help."

--Paul Rusesabagina, Hotel Rwanda-- I feel like the US could be doing so much for other countries that really need help, but we only chose to take action once we're guilted into it. We know what's going on in the world - we shouldn't be waiting till the last possible moment to jump in on our big white horse and save the day.

What can we do? Right here, right now?

You may not be able to be one of those "Doctors Without Borders", but you sure can help. Know how to knit? Gather your friends and make a bunch of comfort dolls to send to those in need. Get with your whole family and spend a Sunday afternoon packing meals at Feed My Starving Children. Donate $10 to buy a mosquito net, which will protect sleeping children from the malaria. Want to take a step farther? Spend your spring break with an organization like i-to-i, digging wells so communities have access to fresh water, or doing an AIDS outreach program. Way too many children are dying at such a young, premature age, and any effort to better their situation will help.