HOPE FLICKERS AT S.L. VIGIL FOR WORLD'S CHILDREN
REACHING OUT: GOAL OF GLOBAL EVENTS IS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF PROBLEMS AND WORK TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF CHILDREN.Flaming candles peppered the night and a gentle feeling of concern mounted in the air as people crowded the state Capitol Sunday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of the world's children.
The vigil, held six days before the United Nation's World Summit for Children, was one of 2,600 occurring throughout the world Sunday in 83 nations and 602 sites in the United States.The vigil featured speakers and choirs from many faiths, as well as public speeches from elected officials and community leaders, including Gov. Norm Bangerter, Rep. Wayne D. Owens, D-Utah, and Utah Jazz player Mike Brown.
"One hundred million children will die in 1990 from preventable causes," said Ken Verdoia, senior producer for KUED, Channel 7, who acted as emcee for the event. "We're here today to raise an awareness about the importance of joining together for the health and welfare of the world's children."
As Verdoia spoke, a woman calmly standing in the audience discussed the importance of the vigil.
"No one can really understand what a mother must feel like if her child dies of malnutrition or disease," Margareth Thomas, a mother of four, said. "I feel very fortunate that I'll never experience that, but people with healthy children should know that many children are dying as we're standing here."
The objective of the worldwide vigils is to mobilize people so that America's leaders participate in the World Summit for Children and work for children's rights.
"We want to save 50 million children this decade," Verdoia said. "It's the goal we're working to achieve."
More than 40,000 children die every day in the world. Last year in Utah, 8,000 children were abused, 80,000 lived in poverty, and 20,000 were clinically dysfunctional with behavioral, emotional and social impairments.
"This vigil will raise public awareness concerning these problems," said Betty Cassell, a first-grade teacher. "On a global level, it's so easy to prevent what children are dying of. For 10 cents you can save the life of a child dying from dehydration. But no one has the resources to do it, that's what makes me so angry."
Cassell, who has three children and six grandchildren, said her concerns for children everywhere in the world make her an unofficial representative of most audience members attending the vigil. "Most people are here for the very same reasons I am," she said. "I don't know if this vigil will even make a difference, but it will let people know that something definitely needs to be done."