Looking out for kids

Oct 022007
Authors: Elizabeth Fritzler

Great Decisions, a local self-run organization, is working this month to bring light to world problems surrounding children. Issues like child slavery, sexual abuse and poverty are all on the forefront.

On Tuesday night, Great Decisions, sponsored by Friends of the Fort Collins Library, gathered to discuss foreign and political policy.

“This is making people aware of what things are happening out there that they may not otherwise have access to,” Lead Librarian in Adult Services Tova Aragon said.

The Foreign Policy Association (FPA) releases a Great Decisions publication annually, each of which contains articles regarding foreign issues. In each monthly meeting, after reviewing the articles, readers discuss the issues with special attention to updated information and changes in policy.

At the center of each booklet lies a ballot; participants may cast their votes after discussions for submission to the FPA.

Tuesday’s thirteen-person group spent over an hour trading personal stories and potential solutions. Many mentioned their own experiences in underdeveloped nations such as Malawi, Brazil and Vietnam.

“I sponsor individual kids different places,” Clyde Walter said. “I’m not going to give my money to charities, I’m going to give it to individual people.”

The group was especially emphatic about the role of small-scale organizations and monetary aid from United States to assist poverty-stricken countries. Overlapping issues, including immigration, HIV/AIDS and women’s rights were mentioned as well.

“The money that we’re putting into the fence between us and Mexico would be better put to micro-financing,” Mary Wolf said. “The only people who can change that are the citizens. We are citizens of this country, and that is a tremendous resource. Justice requires of us certain things. The most important thing to do is vote and change the administration.”

Dan Wendland, the group facilitator, agreed. He discussed the merit of women worldwide and the essential component of education in any society.

“When women are educated, they have fewer children, and the children they do have don’t starve,” he said. “I think individual action in these scenarios is very important.”

Although all agreed action must be taken to protect children in poverty, some pointed out that problems occasionally fall to diplomacy.

Kay Mercier described her work in Sri Lanka with children and the censorship by governments.

“Some of these countries do not want this help,” she said.

Great Decisions will not meet again this year and meetings will begin again in February, and Friends of the Library will continue to donate materials.

Staff writer Elizabeth Fritzler can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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