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Just Like My Child

by Leslie Branscum

Sometimes statistics can be staggering, heart wrenching and breathtaking. Read these:

  • To date, 17 million Africans have died of AIDS. How can anyone even comprehend a number like this?
  • 25 million Africans (many of whom are children) are infected with the HIV virus. More than the Holocaust and the tsunamis.
  • Every 30 seconds a child in Africa dies of malaria - that's 3000 children EVERY DAY.
  • 12 million children are already orphaned by AIDS. Imagine the children you know, suddenly losing their parents. Now imagine these children with no resources whatsoever.

When Vivian Glyck had her son, Zak, in 2002 she had a “moment of awakening” that would result in the foundation of Just Like My Child Foundation, Inc., (www.JustLikeMyChild.org) a non-profit organization based out of southern California that works at the grassroots level to promote education, healthcare and microenterprise in rural Uganda.

Just Like My Child Foundation, Inc. (JLMC) is both a personal and global effort to alter and repair these staggering statistics. Just Like My Child’s approach, known as Deep DevelopmentTM, works village by village to empower communities in Uganda to move toward self reliance: JLMC calls it “an Investment in Independence”.

JLMC has partnered with the Bishop Caesar Asili Hospital in Central Uganda since 2006 and through its main hospital and 12 outlying clinics, Bishop Asili reaches over 600,000 people in 48 villages. Just Like My Child has raised the funds to provide the hospital with an ambulance, electricity generator, hired a doctor, provided bed nets to prevent the spreading of malaria, built schools, surgical equipment, AIDS testing, nutritional resources, and much more. This has increased the service capacity of the hospital, attracting other NGO investors like the Clinton Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, and Mildmay. Through these investments, the hospital has become increasingly sustainable – in other words, less dependent on outside donations and aid. Now, that’s progress! But, there is still much more to do in Uganda.

I asked Vivian Glyck more about her “moment of awakening” which occurred after the birth of her son and several miscarriages when trying to conceive a second child. As most new mothers will attest, there is both a physiological and psychic change that happens when dealing with new life. Your entire world view and perspective on life begin to shift.

I don’t think it requires giving birth or having a miscarriage to have this happen. It can definitely accelerate the process of awakening but it’s not required. What, then, is required to “awaken” to a new sense of purpose and being in the world? When I recently asked Vivian this question, she replied, “Every time I’ve awakened to a new chapter in my soul’s journey, it’s been through pain. Pain is the pathway to transformation. What I’ve learned is to look for the gift in the darkness. Many times when I ‘ve gone through dark times, people tried to get me out of it. But I knew I needed to hang out there, and get the gift from the pain. This last transformation, I realized I wasn’t going to live forever and I needed to take some action to live out what my soul most wanted to do – make a difference in the lives of children who have no options. Most of the challenges that we face make us stronger. The challenges that people in Uganda face often kill them.”

Starting an organization is a lofty goal for any individual but, to tackle the statistics in Africa and make a difference is an even loftier accomplishment. Vivian has done both. The Women’s Peacepower Foundation has honored Vivian with the 2008 Women of Peace Award. The Women of Peace Award recognizes women in the United States and other countries that: demonstrate how violence against women and children is at the root of other forms of violence that tear at the fabric of the world; and hold officials, institutions and governments accountable for their brutality against women and children; and teach future generations the power of non-violence.

Is she a “miracle worker” as the nuns in Africa see her? Or is she an ordinary California mom with a mission to make a difference in the world? Perhaps she is both. I recently asked Vivian what she thinks of being called a “miracle worker” by nuns in Africa. Her take: “I don’t consider myself a ‘miracle worker.’ I think I have a particular set of skills that God decided to use a bit differently and I think it’s all just God working through me and the people I work with. I’m joyful that we can make a difference and that I get to express myself this way. Recently, I had an inner vision where I looked into the windows of all of the families where we’ve been able to save a life or keep a mother alive or send a child to school. I really got in touch with the joy in that.

“ Staying in touch with the joy in my work is my job. I keep thinking, ‘I haven’t done enough!”’ What keeps me going is turning on the lights in the eyes of children and keeping those lights on. We want to make those lives worth living. It’s all about the possibility and what wouldn’t you do to make sure a child has a safe, secure, stable environment in which to thrive? That’s what Just Like My Child is all about.”

How can you help? Visit www.justlikemychild.com and sign up to volunteer, donate, receive information or learn more about the organization. I’ll have more from Vivian next month. Until then, be well and know that all children of the world are “just like my child”: worthy of equal access to education, healthcare and the microenterprise necessary to sustain the resources in the communities in which they live.

Vivian Glyck is the founder and executive director of Just Like My Child. A successful author and marketing director, Vivian started Just Like My Child after the birth of her son, Zak, when she realized that all mothers love their children and that all children deserve healthy bodies and a chance to be educated. Learn more at www.JustLikeMyChild.com or email Vivian at Vivian@Glyck.com .

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