As I sit on my train to return to the Baltimore Airport, I am grateful for the experience that I had this week with Shot@Life. My intention was to blog my way through the experience, but I realized that the depth that I needed to write was so much more than a daily rant. Not only did I get the moment to Lobby on Capitol Hill again, but I also met countless men and women from around the country that are passionate about what Shot@Life stands for. Some may ask, why advocate for children in developing countries? I would ask you, why do you think that people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, and Rosa Parks advocated for people like me, minorities? I advocate because at the end of the day, those families in developing countries are minorities. They are people that don’t have a government such as ours that realizes that vaccines work or even if they have a government that knows vaccines work, they need help. They are people that did not choose to live in the areas that they live, but they do, just as we did not choose to live in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and other states very early on in our lives with many of us still where our family is rooted.
Vaccines have been controversy since the 17-1800’s. Nothing good comes without struggle. Nothing of worth comes without backlash. Some may say that that is the Liberal optimist in me, no; it’s the human being in me. We live in a time when money is tight. This is not the first time that our country as great as it is has been in a deficit and it won’t be the last. Our country was built with the ability to run on a deficit and many people do not know that. So when we look at the less than one percent of our nations budget that goes to foreign aid, how can you balance a budget by taking away that miniscule percent? Our Nation is a global nation. We are not the only people in the world. When we think in terms of vaccinations, we are a global world and when you think of an analogy think of this one, germ warfare is just a plane ride away.
Look, we are in 2013, no child should die or suffer from the effects of polio, no child should die or suffer from the effects of measles or diarreha. NO Child. We in education circles talk about No Child Left Behind, globally; no child should be left behind. Public health is an issue that we all must take on. Why, look at the make up and breakdown in your child’s classroom, your work place, your mommy and me play dates, and then think about the nations that may be represented even if you don’t know it. There are now three countries where Polio is still deadly, Afghanistan, where our men and women are fighting, Pakistan, and Nigeria. We have citizens that travel to those countries. They fly on planes with recirculated air. You know how bad having the flu is; imagine having something ten times worse.
We can take this conversation a step further. Think about the economic impact on you as an adult when you are sick. Flu prevention cost less than my coffee budget for an entire week, flu treatment, take that number and multiply it by four. You have to pay for a doctor’s visit, medication, and supplies to get through it. If you are single parent like me, you have to have help while you are ill, not everyone has family that lives close to him or her. So would it be better to prevent the disease or roll the dice and treat it? I say prevention. Now imagine you were in a developing country. Imagine you are in Africa. You just had a baby, but your joy is diminished because you know the likelihood of your child surviving is low. You don’t name your child and he or she contracts the measles or rotavirus. You watch your child suffer in pain and there is nothing that you can do. Then your child survives and finally you can give him or her a name. You can be joyful that you have a child or let’s say that your child dies and this is your fourth child to die from a vaccine preventable disease. Yet in the US, we drive five to ten minutes, walk into a doctor’s office, our children roll up their sleeves and get a shot. You watch your child grow and flourish. Your child has a name far before he or she enters the world and you celebrate before, during, and after their birth. Every birthday is a celebration. Imagine that mom in Africa that may have one surviving child out of many, that child is a celebration because someone had enough compassion to give $20, $5, $1 in order for her child to get a much needed vaccination.
The world is a scary place, but economically when you have manpower, a work force that can pay into your community, you do much better than the country that has little manpower at all. We as American’s, we prepare our children for the future, what future can these families, mom’s and dad’s, prepare their children for. We often talk about the quality of life on our shores, we have the luxury of going to a healthcare center, a doctor, a health department to get what we need, but others do not. I’m not screaming that we need to force our democracy on others, but when I hear that mom’s are burying their children too early, it makes me sad and angry. MOTHER’S and those of us that are mothers, hear about children and families walking for days to get polio drops and shots for rotavirus, pneumococcal, and others just so that they can survive, you have to wake up and pay attention. I am a parent, advocate, and dreamer, human being that believes that we can do so much more for those we do not see whether home or abroad. I don’t have much money, but what I have that I can give, and I do be it monetarily or with my time.
So say what you will. I liked the days when we as American’s were our brother’s keepers, those that we see and don’t see. This week, I gained a whole lot of brothers and sisters. I gained a whole lot of people that I know think like I do. I appreciate their enthusiasm, I appreciate their understanding, and I most of all appreciate their spirit. We walked the halls of Capitol Hill not as Republican or Democrat, not as Conservative or Liberal, but as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles fighting for those that do not have the same quality of life that we so take for granted. I am a Shot@Life Champion. Is my mission to save the world, no. My mission is to help save one child from disease and death and save one parent the heartbreak of having so say goodbye too soon. We as American’s do not have to wait for the next natural disaster to give. You can give. It’s simple. Go to ShotatLife.org and donate. If you have a smart phone, download Charity Miles and as you walk through your day, choose Shot@Life and they will donate money. There are no brainer chances to donate. Take them like I do.