In my line of work I go to a lot of interesting events. But the most moving, inspiring and heartfelt event I've attended in recent memory was the 2010 World of Children Awards.
There, I was privileged to meet this year's World of Children Awards winners -- everyday individuals from around the world who have pioneered extraordinary, and incredibly effective, nonprofits to change children's lives for the better.
Every aspect of the Awards ceremony (which has been dubbed the "Nobel Prize© for Children") was inspiring beyond my expectations and I was unprepared for how much meeting the winners would affect me emotionally and affirm the importance of this passionate charity.
One story I found particularly touching and motivating was that of a little boy who was brought to the home of "Mami Leo," winner of the 2010 World of Children Humanitarian Award who cares for Guatemala's orphaned and abandoned street children. The boy's parents had dunked him scalding water; Mami Leo carried him around in an infant harness for days. On the fourth day, the boy looked up at Mami Leo and asked "¿Por qué me quieres?" -- "Why do you love me?" Today, that little boy attends law school and volunteers at Mami Leo's home.
The boy's simple question -- "¿Por qué me quieres?", has stuck with me. Thinking about the heartbreaking number of young children around the world who think they are unwanted and are uncared for can easily keep you awake at night. Yet this story of Mami Leo and this little boy is a hopeful reminder that there are remarkable individuals who are dedicating their lives to dramatically improving the lives of children like this boy, and their efforts are making a real difference.
That's what makes the World of Children Awards so special -- each year they scour the planet for social change-makers like Mami Leo and provides them with funding and recognition to leverage and amplify their life-changing work.
The World of Children Awards' founder, Harry Leibowitz, often reminds us that children don't ask to be born into the situation they are in; they just are. When children do not have three square meals a day, a proper education and at least one adult who they know loves and is committed to them, it's very unlikely they will grow up to be productive citizens of the world. I believe it is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power to improve the lives of disadvantaged children and my experience with this year's World of Children Award winners has redoubled my commitment.