Birthdays are always worth celebrating.
Even when you've had a lousy week and you wake up at 2am on your
birthday with a terrible stomach bug (ie, my birthday-sick-in-bed
yesterday), it is worth celebrating a year of life and the prospect
of another one ahead. Because even if you feel crappy on this
particular day, you never really know if you will get to mark
Despite my tendency to puking, I got to celebrate my birthday
yesterday with friends and family, and I even managed to stay
upright for our entire party. It was a good day all in all.
- Celebrating my birthday with my best
- More than 15 years of shared birthdays
I have decided, though, that what I really want most for my
birthday is more 5th birthdays. In
fact, that's what I want for Christmas too. More
Not for me, of course… I had a great 5th year of
life, and I have had many more birthdays since that 5th
- 5-year-old Doctor V practicing sewing
skills (I should have been a surgeon!)
What I want are more 5th birthdays for children in the parts of
the world where a 5th birthday is far too rare. I want 5th
birthdays for the SEVEN MILLION children who die each year before
they reach that precious milestone. (The deaths of SEVEN MILLION
children under the age of 5 EVERY YEAR deserves capital
We know how to get these fifth birthdays. The gifts for the
party are pretty simple. A vaccine that prevents pneumonia. A basic
treatment for diarrhea. A bednet to keep out the mosquitoes that
carry malaria. The breathing mask to help a newborn baby take their
first breaths. The antiretroviral medicines that prevent a baby
from getting HIV. $30 would buy the entire set of gifts. And these
gifts would prevent the most common causes of those 7 million
deaths of little ones who are not getting to 5.
I love five-year-olds. They are curious and funny and brimming
with enthusiasm about all of life. I want the world to have more
five-year-olds! USAID has a
campaign that Every Child Deserves a Fifth Birthday, and I am
completely on board.
I can think of a few ways to help with more 5th birthdays this
year. Some of my favorite organizations in Kenya work very hard,
investing in individual children to make sure they reach their
fifth birthdays and more besides. I would put these organizations
-- and the 5th birthdays they provide -- on my birthday and
Christmas wish list:
Samro School. A primary school run by my Kenyan parents and
providing educational opportunities to their rural community.
- Living Room
International. A hospice and palliative care program that also
provides intensive care for malnourished children in desperate
- AMPATH. (Of course, this
is the organization with which I work and which hosts this blog,
but very much on my list.) AMPATH provides both primary care at a
community level saving babies' lives, as well as the kind of
specialized HIV care and services that sick children need to make
it to five years.
- 5-year-old Doctor V. writing a story
while on a plane. (Nothing has changed!)
- 5-year-old Joshua. I want to see what he
will be when he grows up!