There are over 140 million orphaned children worldwide who have not only lost one or both parents, but have also lost access to food, education, healthcare, and a nurturing environment. Without any assistance or opportunities to escape these circumstances, orphaned children are constantly placed in unfair situations. For instance, in Gambia and Pakistan, many orphaned children have been forced into child labor, child marriages, trafficking and sexual exploitation, abuse, and denied the right to identity. The most tragic part is that there are 64,000 vulnerable children in Gambia and over 4 million in Pakistan today. These large numbers can make us feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and, simply put, powerless. However, even in the midst of such harsh conditions, we can support these orphaned children and help them find hope in their life, just as Annie Henderson did for Maya Angelou.
Like many orphaned children, Angelou was abandoned as a child and experienced a traumatic adolescence of molestation and rape, which led her to become mute for a few years. However, with her grandmother, Annie Henderson, by her side, Angelou was able to cope with the challenges she faced by confronting her experiences. Angelou shared the story of her early years through writing and became a world-renowned poet and novelist. As Angelou once said, “we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” Rather than fearing defeat in the face of overwhelming statistics, each of us can take the chance to help other orphaned children overcome their trauma and live happy, fulfilling lives.
Penny Appeal USA's OrphanKind program aims to ensure that every child can start fresh by forming a family again just as Maya Angelou was able to. As a result, we have built orphan villages that not only house 10 children in each home, but also a trained foster mom to nurture and care for them. Each foster mom is assigned a home and fulfills the role of a loving parent who guides, monitors, and provides the children with emotional, psychological, and physical development. By facilitating this nurturing environment, each orphaned child can stay connected with their local community and, most importantly, return to being a worry-free kid again.
Daget, Morgane. "Children of Pakistan." Humanium: Together for Children's Rights, 29 Nov. 2011, www.humanium.org/en/asia-pacific/pakistan/. Accessed 8 June 2017.
Garnier, Apolline. "Children of Gambia." Humanium: Together for Children's Rights, 20 July 2012, www.humanium.org/en/africa/gambia/. Accessed 8 June 2017.
Moore, Lucinda. "Growing up Maya Angelou." Smithsonian Magazine, Apr. 2003, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/growing-up-maya-angelou-79582387/. Accessed 8 June 2017.