There is my child , so fair of face and bonny
With sweet, shy smile and brave tilt to his head
He goes into my sweet smelling garden to play,
Trailing Tennyson’s glory clouds happily with him.
There is my neighbour’s daughter, at eight a resolute beauty.
‘Let’s play mothers and fathers’ calls this enchanting witch.
‘Yes, let’s’ says my son, ‘I’ll be father and go to work,
You’ll be the mother and look after the children and home’
‘Oh, no’ cries this liberated daughter of a liberated age,
‘Today father stays home and plays house,
Mothers go to work to be fulfilled and free’.
And a puzzled child says ‘I want to care for you dear’.
I smile and I watch as they try to sort out a problem.
I turn to the newspaper and read of the horrors-
There is a child, who might have been mine, lying dead,
And, standing, a child with pot belly, huge eyes and pleading gaze.
I sit and remember wars, drought, famine and flood –
Alisoun Begbie who saw long black lines of people to the horizon
As they waited for her help and she dare not tire
In her work of mercy , healing and love.
Doris Betts who dealt with the worms crawling from the noses
Of little Tibetan children walking from hell to safety;
Margaret Holihan with fear shocked Kapuchean children;
Toni Youjng with frightened, stoical Afar families in Somalia.
Donna Gilbert who wanted to run when when four children died
Of starvation during her first day in Karamoja,
But who stayed and stayed and coped with the horror
And grew i n love and knowledge, maturity and beauty.
Names like a litany – Elizabeth , Vicki , Ita and Karen ,
Jenny, Rosemary, Linda, Peter, Judy, Con and Louise,
Charles, Lois, Libby, Ken, Stacey, Jeff, Graham and Jill.
Brave, professional lovable, loving, loyal and kind
My fortune to have a healthy , fearless loving child –
My fortune also to know these superb helpers –
My sister’s misfortune to be born in the Third World
Never to see her child able to achieve his potential.
She is my sister, this sad, other coloured woman.
She loved a man, she carried a child, she bore a baby
And she could not love him any less than I love mine –
But for her, the wrenching agony of watching him slowly die.
What does being a liberated woman mean to her?
For her there is only toil and trouble for ever.
If she daily carries the water and he tills the soil
Where lies the advantage in changing the role?
I can but offer her my fumbling sympathy, and thank my God
I am not as she. But, stay, I can do something for her –
I can share What I have, I can give to those who work
And care enough about all children to go to them.
Fair? No, its not fair, and this life is unfair.
Born equal? No, for some are born more than equal.
The other side of the road? The Good Samaritan reproaches.
But help, practical help, food, medicine, clothes and shelter – yes.
Governments can argue, discuss and pontificate,
Nations can condemn, condone or be complacent.
But we who are born blessed, or cursed, with an awareness of life
We MUST share our bounty with those who have nought.
I would fain add my name to the carers litany.
To Maureen, Pauline, Barbara Shirley and Dot,
The list of the good Australians is fair and long
They take their good fortune for granted, and they share.
Land of the Southern Cross, Land of the Midnight Sun,
Land of Liberty , Land of the Maple Leaf for ever,
Land of the Long White Cloud and mighty Britannia fair –
All join in the urgent need to care for the needy.
Dear Eglantyne, more than sixty years since you wrote
A charter, so simple, so plain, detailing the Rights of the Child
Yet still those children go without, are not the first
As Mankind forgets that justice demands fair dealing for the child.
My child is bonny, hers will sadly die,
Born to suffer, born to starve and born to die –
Because my skin is white and hers is other coloured.
God in his heaven must weep to see the children cry.
I can help and I can care and I can give.
Never let me say that there is no room in Inn or Heart .
when millions of children greet death as a friend
How long can my child live the good life, uncaring.
As the bells of Christmas call to all good Christians,
‘Suffer little children to come unto me’;’better a millstone-‘;
‘Not even a sparrow falls -‘; ‘Render unto Caesar -‘;
‘Inasmuch as ye do it to the least of these, ye do it unto me’.
So we beg of you to care for children at Christmas time,
Care for them at the time of Holy Innocents Day,
Care at Epiphany and care on blind St Lucy’s day.
CARE FOR, ABOUT AND WITH MEANING, all the children everywhere.