Five

Do you remember what you liked to do when you were five?

Based on these photos from my mother, I liked writing (while on planes), painting, traveling, spending time with my family, putting on puppet shows, and -- given the photos from oceans, lakes, and our pool -- absolutely anything involving the water.

Rachel_Five_1

Rachel Five_2

Apparently, I still like the same things that I liked when I was five! Although it's been far too long since I put on a puppet show…

Annibell is another happy five-year-old. She bustles around her small dirt yard in a small hot village in Kenya poking curiously into every possible adventure. She makes up games with the cards she found in a ditch near her family's home. She carries her younger sister around her family's compound, wrapped on her back with a cloth, acting just like her mama. She figures out how to roll an old rubber tire from a bicycle up the road using just a stick. She uses that stick to draw designs in the red dirt.

kilifi_playing cards

Annibell has a smile that will make you fall in love.

Every child should have the chance to be 5 years old. Five is a magic age. But, every year, 7 million of our babies and toddlers and little ones die before they reach 5. A crazy number - seven million!

In Africa, ONE in EIGHT children die before they turn five. Annibell's older sister died from a pneumonia before she got to her first birthday. A cough and fever that could have been treated with a cheap, basic antibiotic took away her chance to run and play and laugh with Annibell. When she looks at Annibell's smile, her mother wonders what it would have been like to see Caren's smile too.

Almost all of these seven million lost five-year-olds die from things that we can prevent. Just like Annibell's sister Caren. They die from pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition, and not getting what is needed when babies are born. Almost all of these deaths are preventable.

UNICEF just closed the "Child Survival Call to Action" summit in DC with a renewed commitment to eliminate preventable child deaths. A renewed commitment to more fifth birthdays. A renewed commitment to more five-year-olds excitedly exploring their worlds. Surely we can make this happen. Surely we all want more happy five-year-old memories.

In our AMPATH programs, we offer support for the most vulnerable of five-year-olds through our Orphans and Vulnerable Children program. In our primary healthcare initiative, we try to get more and more babies through those riskiest of days when they make their entrance into the world and through their first years of life. More fifth birthdays!

Posted at 01:30

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