When I was seven, my grandmother came to our home in California for a visit. My favorite memory of that time was her showing me how to brush my long hair 100 strokes a day to make it shiny. I felt so loved.
Soon after her visit, I saw a newspaper photo of a girl about my age—a war orphan in Vietnam. Alone and forgotten, her black hair was a tangled mess and her clothes were in rags. She clung to an armless doll. Her tearstained face haunted me as I curled up under my quilt that night. I couldn’t sleep. I longed to help her. I cried and prayed and tried to conjure up a plan to help her. Sometime in the early hours of the morning, I imagined in my mind a gigantic suitcase opened wide as combs and brushes poured out of heaven filling it to the brim. I finally fell asleep happy to be thinking about what it would be like to hand children around the globe such a gift of love.
At some point, I placed that idealistic dream of blessing and loving children in a forgotten drawer in my heart. I went to school, became an early childhood educator, married and raised my family. I taught preschool and wrote children’s literature. But the suitcase remained hidden in my heart-drawer until my own children had children. It was then that the daily news of little ones caught in war and strife, hunger and homelessness, domestic violence and refugee camps began keeping me up nights reminding me of my vision of so many years ago.
Of course, by now I knew that a suitcase full of haircare tools was just a metaphor and that the key to truly changing lives would be to develop sustainable self-reliance. If we are truly to give a hand up instead of a hand out we must find a way to move people out of poverty, helplessness, and suffering by beginning from within.
Our understanding of the heart, mind, and body connection shows that every child struggles. Difficulties, affliction, misperception, and traumas leave deep epigenetic scares that if left unresolved will fester and enlarge, distorting our understanding of who we are and keeping us from our divine purpose of loving and serving one another.
It’s been a lot of years since in the making. Instead of combs and brushes falling from heaven I see moms and dads, mothers and fathers, grandparents and therapists, social workers, natural healers, teachers, and medical professionals coming together with the same vision—children are our future. The future is now.