To look into the faces of these children who are members of the Quechua ethnic group and Andean people is to see flowers animated. In the blaze of the puppy-holder’s smile, in the lighthearted grin of the girl embracing her goat, in the disposition of all of them as an ensemble of youthful comrades, and especially with those yellow-fringed headdresses, they appear to me to resemble human sunflowers.
Their delight, their sheer joy in the moment, is impossible to overlook.
As a parent, reading current headlines of global news, I am intensely aware that I want safety, security, love, joy, and a hopeful future for my children. I know this is true for women and men throughout the world who are fortunate to have lives that intersect with young people.
Earlier this week, I spent time in New York City Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and her World Childhood Foundation. Proceedings commenced at the United Nations, where we partook in crucial conversations and tactics to address issues related to child sexual misconduct, exploitation, and brutality. The Queen’s organization seeks to combat the exploitation of children globally and everyone involved operated with the fervent hope they would someday be unnecessary. It was obvious these leaders’ hearts were full of grace and dignity as they sought to end multiple travesties inflicted on young people.
Simultaneously, we were all aware that while in no way negating the horrid physical, sexual, and mental violence perpetuated on children worldwide, we must not just encourage but enable them to experience joy. This image of the sweet children reminds me to double my efforts to spread awareness of the struggles faced by many innocent and young people but also to share laughter, delight, exhilarating fresh opportunities, and the warm embrace of an animal or another person. Children deserve no less—and often in this troublesome world, so much more.