Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavanthu: May all beings be well!
At the Interfaith Prayer with Children organized by Arigatou International, I had shared the following lines ‘During these past one hundred days (and more) of the COVID 19 Pandemic, we have often spoken about despair, disease and death. A virus invisible to the naked eye with the power to disrupt daily life and global affairs at such a scale, this is indeed a public health crisis, one that the global family has rarely experienced before. The data is there for us to gauge the extent of the pandemic. At once it seems that our lives, our minds and even our hearts are overwhelmed by the confluence of this collective human experience, something I have not seen in my life time. These times will be remembered in the annals of history as ‘unprecedented’; few parallels can be found.
However, during the same one hundred (now 400) days, in the quiet of one’s conscience, never before have we had to so honestly confront the ways we have lived our lives and cared for one another. When the wise elders of our families said to us ‘there is more to life than chasing targets – take the time to understand it’, we were not the only one’s saying ‘this can wait!’- when our children stood before us with hope, wanting our attention, wanting our care, individually and collectively, we were not the only one’s who rushed our responses and often prioritized something ‘more important’ than them. Yes, we are all equally human and this pandemic amidst the acuteness of the problem has also allowed us to understand our frailness, our pre-disposition to often prioritize ‘self’ and to think of success in limited frameworks rather than a life lived well and with a purpose well understood. This Pandemic has shaken our collective conscience at so many levels and encouraged us to be more in touch with our inner core- my mother ‘Ma’ would refer to it as ‘being in touch with your inner friend’.’
As Vice Chair of Arigatou International, it has been my joy to celebrate with the entire Arigatou family our 20th anniversary. The Global Week with Children that marked this anniversary gave us innumerable opportunities to see the impact of our work both in local communities as well as part of global efforts. The active participation of children and young people has increasingly become a differential, and a distinguishing feature of our work. In twenty years we have developed a network of faith inspired organizations and partners who work with us in addressing major challenges that children face collectively including poverty, violence and social inequities. These challenges have been further compounded during the COVID19 Pandemic and have a direct consequence on children. Our convening role in mobilizing faith based organizations to work together has been appreciated and the interfaith framework, a model to study and adapt.
I am also delighted that our Consortium on Early Childhood has been drawing attention and furthering the understanding of spirituality and its critical impact in early childhood. During the lock downs enforced in many parts of the world, one of the services that were abruptly disrupted was the early childhood services. The human cost of this is significant as so many vital growth and development changes occur during this period. In addition the multi-factorial (mental and physical stress) stress at home has been accentuated during this pandemic, thus making the ecosystem not fully conducive for a growing child. Lessons that we can study and integrate to our work will not only enrich our work at the Consortium but also new ways of thinking around making ECD Services, an essential service around the world.
I congratulate our dedicated team at Arigatou International and each of our Programme Directors Ms.Marialucia Uribe, Ms.Rebecca Rios-Kohn, Dr.Mustafa Ali & Rev.Fred Nybera.
2 billion children are watching us today (5 billion adults); they are not only asking us their questions but also bringing us their hope because they know that if we are in touch with our conscience, with our greater human purpose, we can not only reduce the impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic but also carry forward the values that make us truly human. May the luminous presence of our CHILDREN move us from praying together with children to ACTION for the wellbeing of children! Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavanthu: May all beings be well!
President, Shanti Ashram