Kofi Annan was only an innocent African child who grew healthily to become the UN Secretary General. John Dramani Mahama was once a child who grew healthily to become the president of Ghana. Georgina Theodora Woode too was then a baby suckling at her mother’s breast but now the chief justice of Ghana. It was not any different for Banford Addo either. She too, grew healthily to become Ghana’s first female speaker of parliament until recently. All of them, like all of us, were once a child.
Childhood remains vitally necessary to adulthood. That is why, I believe, development psychologists made no mistake in when they divided childhood into the stages of toddlerhood, early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence. They perceived that each stage comes with the need for full development less it could impair a person’s attitude formation. They were right. They were very right.
However, I am afraid. I am afraid because 147 million children in Africa might grow up to fulfill their potentials like Kofi, John, Georgina and Banford did. Through no faults of theirs, these children would have their future obliterated in obscurity. Too bad. Rather unfortunate. But I asked what future can we guarantee the children if we fold our arms and watch helplessly? Let us face it .Africa is saddled and encumbered with countless challenges yet I dare say Africa remains the Messiah of the world.That, I would explain to you some other time. Today, there is the urgency of now. That urgency is about the future of our children. Do not tell me your biological children are secured. Listen. In a globalised world, every child is your child. In every child lies the potentiality to a great and influential leader.
We have a common enemy. We have an enemy that we cannot fight when we stand apart. This enemy does not only rob the future generations but also, it extorts the peace of mind of the present generations leaving posterity with unquantifiable deficit. Staring intimidating at us is the monstrous archenemy surnamed stunting.
Stunting is also referred to as stunted growth. Anthony Lake, the executive director of UNICEF, describe it the least understood, least recognized and least acted upon crisis. Stunting is a reduced growth rate in human development. This undesirable feature is a primary manifestation of malnutrition during fetal development brought on by the malnourished mother. When pregnant mothers fail to take enough vitamin A capsules (VAC),Iron and folic acids during the development of the fetus as well as balanced diet with clean drinking water in the first 2 years of the child’s life ,such a child suffers an irrevocable,irreparable reduced growth rate. But stunting does not only mean being short.It is worse a situation,unlike underweight which can be fixed ,that it cannot be reversed after year two. Stunting results in weaker cells and brain development in children. This culminates into a form of cognitive impairment. What this means is that children who are permanently stunted stand the highest chances of being mentally retarded. Such children will continually be dull in class (regardless the effort they make) preventing them from getting ahead academically.Arguably, they would earn less later in life. This entrenches the vicious cycle of poverty in an economy with high number of permanently stunted children. Any economy with permanently stunted children will forever grow economically at a progressively stunting rate. Just imagine that. But should an innocent child suffer all these preventable mishaps? Is it not a tragic violation of the child’s right? What then is society doing to reverse
this negative trend that only mount tones and tones of cumulative burdens on their already wobbling economy ?
A UN report reveals yet another frightening statistics about this abhorrent prevailing situation of stunting. Of the 165 million children who can be described as permanently stunted globally, 24 countries with the highest levels of stunted children were concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. What is more, more than half of these under age 5 are specifically found in Timor-Liste, Burundi, Niger and Madagascar. It is undesirable to highlight that India has the highest number of stunted children with 61.7 million or 48% of all Indians under age 5.
Just imagine that the early years of Kofi Annan. For a moment, assume Kofi was denied the 6 months exclusive breastfeeding. What if Kofi’s mothers never had access to clean drinking water and he suffered diarrhea progressively?
You can be sure what would have become of the child who eventually became the UN Secretary General. Should we attribute the total growth and healthy development of Kofi Annan to luck? Dont you think it would amount to robbery of his future if we say geopolitics was not in his favor as such he only had to remain stunted? There are countless millions of Kofi Annans’ that rather sadly, might not escape the threshold of stunting. The onus lays on us. To everyone who had escaped stunting; you owe it an inescapable responsibility to lift other children from that seeming quagmire. Let us get them out unto the solid rock of healthy life before they are swallowed in the irreparable situation.
You want to ask what do I do to contribute to a child’s healthy growth. I tell you what. To every multinational corporation, business conglomerates and concerns, your survival in the days ahead is inextricably linked to the well-being of today’s children. You want to know how? I will tell you at no cost, at least for now.Today, over 147 million children in Africa are permanently stunted .147 million children today means more customers, expanded market, more profit. However, this expanded market could elude all. How? These children might not develop academically hence; their economic power would be on the decline. When people have multitude of problems to solve but have low purchasing power, they tend to live on the survival level. Such people do not have extra income to spend hence their demand for luxuries like cars, estate buildings, quality home theatres, quality ICTs among others will be on the lower side. It therefore means that companies dealing in such luxuries, for instance, will find it difficult to even breakeven.
Need I ask these multinational corporations, conglomerates, telecommunication giants and market leaders to safeguard the future of their business by investing in the life of children, their potential customers?
I want to believe that these establishments would do anything ethically possible to keep their profit afloat. Can I make a suggestion to them? Never lose sight of the sub stratum of your profit: people. It is all about people, the most useful resource .Not just people but healthy living people .Never forget that every customer who patronizes your merchandise was once a child who escaped unhealthy situations like stunting.
So, why not put your hands to the wheels? Together we can turn the wheel from stunting towards healthy child development. I encourage you not to shirk in your corporate social responsibilities .Support the course of children. Donate your money where it would be used for intended purposes. Look out for International development organizations with impeccable pedigree and global presence. An organization that had been consistent and steadfast in achieving its vision of total development of every child. I recommend to you World Vision International.
World Vision International had churned out countless number of children, of which I am one, through its multifaceted programs dedicated to working with children, families and their communities globally granting these individuals en express route to attaining their full potentials by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Over three decades in Ghana, World Vision has been working with rural communities in all the 10 administrative regions of Ghana to provide portable water, promote sanitation and hygiene practices ,quality education, particularly at the basic level, enhance food security and respond to disasters. This independent international Christian relief, development and advocacy organization upholds the true value of people treating all persons equally irrespective of their cultural, religious and geographical affiliations.
If the scourges of stunting, food insecurity, poor drinking water, insanitary hygiene practice, poor quality education alongside injustice and poverty are to be made a thing of the past, you cannot look any further than World Vision.
The governments of Africa alone cannot solve the plethora of humanitarian problems neither could they guarantee social protection without the likes of World Vision.
Why not make the dreams of every child become a reality by partnering with World Vision International? Imagine Kofi Annan was permanently stunted. You can make a difference no matter how little. You can be the change you want to see in the world. Support the children, visit www.wvi.org