This is me.
I have a name, but it is not easy to remember or pronounce and the person to whom it is attached is of no real value. Or so people tell me.
I am small. And the world around me is so big. I try to contain it in the folds of my hands.
There are things I want.
To be comforted in the black pit of night. To raise my eyes and see sunlight streaming through my window, instead of waking to a smudged scene as dim to my heart as to my sight. To know if anything I do, any words I can utter from my mouth, will be worthy enough to catch praise. For my father to take notice. For my mother to smile with her heart. But my wants are met with a silence, cold and loud, that speaks of my insignificance.
I long to watch the ones I know brighten with love. But they look past me, a void between the brows, eyes glazed over as if I am not in the room. Or they are full of lead and heaviness, a dark pool of pain that turns to me.
Still, I skip on.
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Sometimes my stomach trembles for days because I don’t remember the last time I had a good meal. Or even a scrap to keep me scraping along. A tiredness gnaws inside me that makes playing sometimes seem impossible. My mother wants to fill my hunger. You can see it in her weary eyes. But there are so many mouths to feed and there is so little provision …
The sun seems to warm me from places I have yet to visit.
Maybe one day the tasks I do will help. Maybe one day all the hours at the market, begging with my hands outstretched, will yield a loaf of bread or a basket of fruit, something to sustain us and give us hope. Maybe one day my arms will be strong and I can work the fields so my mother doesn’t have to. Maybe my father will come back and care for me as he once promised to do so long ago.
For such a small heart as mine, it holds so much to give. I long to love and to be loved back. I have a bright, wide smile that rejoices in simple games and gentle gestures. If you were to slip your large, clean hand into my small and dusty one, you would find our fingers fit perfectly together. I’d like to crawl into your lap and delve into the depths of your care.
I want to be heard. I want to be seen. I want to be filled with an endless love, grace poured out to me like the river I bathe in.
And I am.
In my house is a letter from a woman in another country. Her smiling face looks at me from a photograph she stuck inside the envelope. She tells me she loves me. She tells me she believes in me.
Her voice carries across the ocean to whisper that there is a God who hears me, sees me and wraps me in His arms. And that today is a day to celebrate children like me. Children who have names and dreams and ambition to become anything we want.
Light envelopes my heart and it beats with a quiet hope that won’t be caged. There is a joy that spreads around me as I attend church and classes, learning and connecting with the other children who are like me, who have life and laughter and love in their veins. And when I lay down to sleep tonight, I will remember that I am named and part of a great, big world that spins under the hand of One who holds me close.
This is me. This is my life. And I am glad for it.
Today is Universal Children’s Day. A day when we band together across the globe to show that children are set apart and valued — to show our shared desire for their well-being.
Visit the United Nations Website to find out more information about Universal Children’s Day.