Street Children: A Day to Remember
By Cleo Lampos
How many of us knew that April 12 was designated as Street Children Day? I didn’t, so on that day the plight of 100 million children in the world went unnoticed by me. The daily rising toll of orphans in Syria usually captures my attention, and I mourn for these little ones who have lost their childhoods to war. It is hard to imagine 100 million street children. What do we do with all of them?
There are organizations all over the world who try to reach out to these children. World Vision, The Salvation Army, Samaritan’s Purse, Children of the Night, and so many denominational orphanages and schools. The need is staggering.
History is filled with ordinary people who tried to make the life of street children better. Gladys Aylward served in China just before WWII, taking in orphan Chinese children until she needed to transport all hundred of them across Asian mountains to safety from the Japanese. Thomas Barnardo started out as a teacher for poor children, then built a system of orphanages that are still housing children in Great Britain to this day. George Mueller ran his British orphanages on faith alone for the finances, leaving all of us who read his biography amazed at how God supplied his needs. Amy Carmichael worked among the homeless, abandoned, orphaned girls of India, rescuing some whose parents sold them to the temples. The list goes on.
Here in the United States, the largest placing out of orphans involved the running of the orphan trains between the mid 1850’s to 1930 in which over 200,000 children left New York City for the homes of farmers in the Great Plains and Midwest. My book, A Mother’s Song, tells the story of the biological mother and the adoptive mother of a girl who rides the train. Based on several years of research, the book presents an accurate view of the times and those who decided to change the lives of so many.
Street Children’s Day reminds us all that there is a broken and hurting world out there that we want to go away. It will not because the cries of the children haunt our darkened bedrooms at night, fill our television screens, and move us to action. My calling to speak out through lectures on the orphan train to raise consciousness about homelessness is what I can do. My husband grows vegetables to give to food pantries. What is your response to Street Children’s Day?