There is something significant about a birthday – something to be celebrated. You’ve survived another trip around the sun. You’re another year older, another year wiser. Children are notorious about being especially excited for their birthdays. My daughter celebrated her fourth birthday on Saturday. She reminded me almost daily for months that her birthday was coming up. It was a big deal for her. Being born in August, she is almost always the youngest in her group of friends. They were already four, and she was excited about joining their ranks. And let’s be honest – she is four so she was mostly SUPER excited about getting to wear her new Batman leotard for her super hero gymnastics birthday party.
As her mom, it’s a joy to watch her grow. She’s fearless, funny, and (most of the time) kind. She’s a dreamer and has the determination to make her dreams come true. (Although her dream of being a giraffe when she grows up might be a little out of reach.) But it’s also not lost on me that I assumed she would celebrate her fourth birthday. I also fully expect to be celebrating her fifth birthday this time next year. Now I know that tomorrow is never promised, and tragedy does exist in our world. But to be truthful, I’m blessed that I don’t have to think about that fact very often. This isn’t the case everywhere.
Globally, 16,000 children under the age of 5 die each day. The two regions of the world where Set Free operates have the highest child mortality rate. 1 child in 12 in sub-Saharan Africa dies before his or her fifth birthday. In southeastern Asia, about 1 child in 19 dies before age five. That’s at least one child in my daughter’s preschool classroom who wouldn’t survive to the end of the school year. The saddest part is, the majority of these deaths are caused by infectious diseases and neonatal complications that are both preventable and easily treatable. It doesn’t have to remain this way. And it doesn’t seem right that just because my daughter was born in the United States versus another part of the world – I get to make the assumption that we will be celebrating her birthday for years to come.
Roland agreed years ago that it wasn’t right for the deck to be so stacked again certain children simply because of where they were born. He knew that, as Christians, God calls us to serve the least of these. Roland also happened to celebrate his birthday this weekend. While he probably wasn’t as excited about turning 66 as my daughter was about turning 4, he still wants to celebrate by giving the gift of fresh water to those who need it the most. He is seeking to prevent the spread of water borne illnesses so that more children around the world are able to continue celebrating their own birthdays. Will you join us by giving today?