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United Methodists join global children's campaign


Oliver Green and Linda Bales of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society flank actress Angelina Jolie following an announcement launching a new campaign by Global Action for Children. A UMNS photo courtesy of Linda Bales. 













By Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 27, 2007 | WASHINGTON (UMNS)

Actress Angelina Jolie and other advocates for orphans and vulnerable children have announced a campaign by Global Action for Children to increase U.S. government funding by $2.5 billion per year to provide free primary school education in developing countries.


Jolie, an advocate for orphans, backs the campaign during an April 26 news conference in Washington. A UMNS
photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is a founding member of Global Action for Children. The announcement came during an April 26 news conference held as part of Global Education Awareness Week.

"I am no policy expert," Jolie said, "but I know the price of inaction and indifference. We need people to think about orphans not as a burden but as a great opportunity."

Heartbreaking stories about children living without parents were shared by Jennifer Delaney, executive director, Global Action for Children; the Rev. Mpho A. Tutu, an Episcopal priest and founder and executive director of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage; Gene B. Sperling, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; and Kay Warren, executive director of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

Delaney said about 20 million children will have lost a parent or parents to HIV/AIDs by 2010, and millions more will be orphaned by tuberculosis, malaria and war or have parents who are sick and dying.

Warren said she was motivated to get involved by an article about children who are orphaned by AIDS. "I read a startling statistic that 12 million children are orphans, and I couldn't believe I didn't know any of them," she said.


"The one refrain I kept hearing from the mothers was 'who will care for my children?' I had to say, 'I will take care of the children, '" says panelist Kay Warren.
A UMNS photo by Kathy L. Gilbert.

Warren asked women affected by AIDS what she could do to help them, what message she could bring back to the United States. "The one refrain I kept hearing from the mothers was 'who will care for my children?' I had to say, 'I will take care of the children.'"

Becoming involved in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children has made her "a gloriously ruined woman," she added.

Sperling said eliminating school fees would make "an amazing impact" because poor parents and children living alone cannot afford school fees. "Education is the way out for these children," he said.

"Orphans in developing nations are defined as children who have lost one or two parents," said Linda Bales, a Church and Society executive and a chairwoman of Global Action for Children. "A child who loses one parent in a developing nation can be totally devastated."

Bales said the coalition's primary focus was initially a legislative one. President Bush's AIDS plan set aside 10 percent of funding for AIDS orphans but did not define how the money could be spent.


The Rev. Mpho A. Tutu is part of a panel calling for increased U.S. funding for free primary school education in developing countries. A UMNS photo by
Kathy L. Gilbert.

"We worked with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Sen. Richard Luger, (R-Ind.) on defining how the 10 percent would be used for such things as care of orphans, nutrition, education and inheritance rights," Bales said.

In many countries, she said, a child who loses both parents cannot inherit anything and are "are left with nothing."

Oliver Green, a Church and Society director and member of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund committee, said "it was heartwarming to hear Kay Warren and Angelina Jolie speak about the need to care for these children."

The United Methodist 2004 General Conference created the United Methodist Global AIDs Fund with the goal of raising $8 million by 2008. Contributions can be sent to the Advance Special #982345 by writing that number on the memo line of a check and dropping it in the offering plate at church. To donate by credit card, call (800) 554-8583.

For more information on the Global Action for Children, visit www.globalactionforchildren.org.

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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Board of Church and Society

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