Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy First Birthday Shot@Life!

It has been a very busy two weeks celebrating National Vaccination Week and preparing for various events for our Shot@Life first Birthday here in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

What an amazing year it has been for me as a Champion and Ambassador for Shot@life.   I can hardly believe that one year ago in April 26 Lyssa Sahadevan, Lori  Grise, LaShaum Martin  and I were at the Atlanta Aquarium in Georgia with the United Nations Foundations staff for the BIG National Launch of the SHOT@LIFE Campaign.  It was an incredible experience!  As I was sitting there listening to one of the speakers I knew it would became a National movement.  Who would not want to participate in a cause so noble and worthy?  I was amazed to see so many people committed and eager to support our cause.  My personal reflections in my notes of that day say: “I am feeling very humble now; I didn’t realize it would be so big …and with so many influential people like the former first lady Roselyn Carter; Ann Geddes; Noelle Howey, deputy editor of Simple Magazine; Kathy Calvin, CEO of UN Foundations; Dr. Anne Schuchat of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Ambassador Andrew Young; John Rutherford, Officer of the UNF, and many more.  I can’t think of any reason for this campaign NOT to become a National Movement!  We, as mothers, educators, legislators, lawmakers and community leaders have the power to share this message.  Every child around the world deserves a ‘shot at life’ to live free of childhood diseases that can be easily prevented with vaccines.  Measles, polio, pneumonia and diarrhea are childhood diseases that can be eradicated from this earth if all of us work together”.

In one year we have grown from 45 champions to 415 champions and more signing up for the cause.  Last week every one of these champions, from around the country, spread the word about Shot@Life either through blogging or holding events and fundraisers. Their actions created more awareness and understanding of the importance of vaccines and how they save children’s lives.  I am so proud of them! Happy First Birthday Shot@Life!

Like I said before, I became a Champion for the Shot@Life Vaccines Campaign because I have seen what the lack of vaccinations does to people, especially to little children.   I saw the pain and agony in the eyes of the mothers and children in my native country, Mexico.  I had mental flashbacks to scenes deeply engraved upon my heart by experiences I had as a nurse.   We received children who had been dehydrated for days from uncontrolled diarrhea, while others showed the ravages of untreated diseases like chicken pox, measles and mumps.  Still more came to us with distended abdomens from malnutrition and the lifeless eyes of starvation.  Then there was the baby boy who came to us with tetanus and died several hours later in our facility.  Nothing can be more excruciating than watching a child die in your arms without being able to give the help or comfort needed to alleviate their suffering.

I am very passionate about children’s health issues here and around the globe.  My trip to Uganda last fall with the UNF team reminded me of how similar we are and of how rural areas health needs are the same throughout the world.  Mothers in Uganda have the same worries as we do or of any mother, anywhere.  Motherhood is truly universal.  As a mother, I would do anything in my power to protect my children and to make sure that they received the best education possible.  I would give everything to see that they grew up healthy and strong, performed concerts, danced, sang, and enjoyed every day’s sunrise, sunset and in-between.  All of these things are blessings that many of us forget sometimes or take for granted because we live in a country where childhood vaccines are easily available to us in our doctors’ offices.  But sadly, many other mothers will not have these privileges and opportunities.  Too many of them will not see some of their children live beyond toddlerhood to grow older.These experiences have expanded my understanding and have given me insight on how health issues, hunger, and poverty are global issues of great importance to all of us.  We are all connected and of equal worth, therefore we must do something to resolve these problems. 

 You and I can make a difference through advocating to our legislators and communicating the message to the public and in our communities.  We have to use every available resource to make sure that all children have a better future.  We need to protect them and to make sure their voices are heard.  They can’t protect themselves; they need us to fight for them and their rights.  We are their voice and their only hope!Happy birthday Shot@Life and thank you for saving lives and giving me the honor of being a part of this amazing campaign!