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I have always thought that babies and children are quite sweet - from a safe distance I have noticed that they are noisy, messy and demanding but definitely fun and appealing. If I’m honest though, I would smile and cluck unconvincingly when colleagues brought their new babies in to work and duck back to the safety of my desk and in-tray as soon as I could politely do so. I couldn’t grasp what all the fuss was about – why did people swoon, sigh and gibber so much once they became parents?

But then our daughter Dulcie arrived and I understood. Holding my own tiny daughter for the first time was an experience which knocked me sideways with a sizeable sledgehammer. I’m not one for melo­drama or overblown statements, but I knew that I would die for her in an instant. I found that the love of a parent, indeed of a mother, for their child is something of extraordinary, overwhelming power.

Understanding that fiercely protective love has given the horrific events of Darfur and Beslan and the death of nearly 100 children in a recent school fire in India even greater impact and poignancy. Such events defy comprehension and are beyond anger. But similar obscene injustices occur daily. Every day, thousands of mothers with no access to anti-retroviral, or often even pain-killing, drugs die from AIDS. I have met mothers like this, dying in absolute anguish over who will love and care for their chil­dren, ensure that they have enough food to eat, can go to school and are not exploited or abused. And every day millions more precious children are denied their basic rights to an education, participation in their community and, quite simply, a chance in life because they have some sort of disability.

How does that quote go? Something about ‘all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing’. For the inspirational people with whom Advantage Africa works, despair and hand-wringing is not an option. They stand alongside people living in the most desperate circum­stances and support them in challenging the immense hur­dles they face to living, or dying, in dignity. They show us, as does the birth of a child, what selflessness, grit, hope and of course love, can achieve in a messed up world.

Thank you for your partnership with us in supporting the work and ideas of such inspirational people.

Jane Betts, Trustee Group

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