Sitting in SOS Children’s Village Greenfields in India where I grew up, 11-year old Asha asked me, “When will I go to school? When can I shake hands with my friends? Mama is working so hard – I want to hug and kiss her.” To be honest, I had no answer, but just said to her, “Soon dear… soon.” Around the world, children are asking similar questions but with no real answers.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world totally unprepared. Even everybody’s normal habit of immediately going on Google or Wikipedia brings no answer. What we can do - and SOS Children’s Villages is doing that around the world in 136 countries and territories - is to ensure that our focus is on the safety of children and families, as we have done for over 70 years.
Let us take a little time to reflect, “What will happen to the next generation?” One thing is certain: the world is going to be very different. Sadly, many of us will live in fear of catching a potentially deadly virus and passing it on to our dear ones.
It is your and my joint responsibility to ensure safety, security and especially a secure future for our next generation. When it comes to children who have no one or who are at risk of losing their family, the problem gets exponentially enormous. Children need someone on their side always and especially in times of crisis. Today the debate is mainly focused on adults, but we are at a great risk if the direct and indirect impact of this pandemic on children is ignored. Our initial conversations with colleagues and partners around the world show that more and more children would need alternative care as a result of families collapsing, which in many cases can and should be prevented.
Increasingly I hear the phrase “new poor.” Millions of daily wage earners are without jobs and homes. Their survival is at stake. Remember that they too have families – children. What will happen if we don’t join hands around the world to make sure children are not left without someone by their side? More than anything else today we need solidarity and focus on what binds us and not what divides us.
Join us, support us, and together we can deal with the impact of the coronavirus on children, youth and families. We don’t have an answer for Asha’s questions yet. However, together, with SOS Children’s Villages’ local and global expertise and your support, we can make sure that thousands of children will have someone on their side in this time of crisis.
Stay safe and help children.
President of SOS Children’s Villages International