I write this from Monrovia, Liberia's capital. This country accounts for more than 2,000 of the 3,400 estimated deaths from Ebola across the region, but with cases going unreported, some choosing to die without seeking help, and others succumbing in communities which are barely accessible, that is almost certainly a gross underestimate. UNICEF calculates that around 2,000 children in Liberia have lost both parents to the virus. And what faces a child in this position?
The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
It's a bicycle. The only thing I see under the stairs of one small home in the Gaza strip. A girl's small blue bicycle. A bit battered, had seen better days, but just a bicycle. Ahmad*, whose home it is, continues to point at it. I'm thoroughly bewildered. He stares at the bicycle. Then sits down heavily and starts speaking in slow, measured tones...
The psychological trauma inflicted when children lose their parents, see their homes destroyed, or experience torture, is not easily alleviated, particularly when they have to remain in the stressful and unfamiliar environment of a refugee camp. Save the Children's staff see the signs of this in places like Syria and Gaza, from night terrors and bed wetting to children who refuse to speak.
We sleep in the corridors where the building is strongest and jump at the slightest of sounds. The other day my wife put a bottle of water down loudly and I ducked for cover, thinking it was another air strike. Another time we heard a loud whistling noise and ran to the corridor, only to realise it was a car with a high-pitched engine going past. I have feared for my life too many times.
I know what it's like to lose your childhood to war. When I was five and conflict raged in Sudan, my family and I were amongst the lucky ones to leave for Egypt. Four years later we were granted asylum in the United Kingdom. Inspired by legendary South Sudanese basketball player Manute Bol, my siblings and I took up basketball which helped us fit in. Like Manute, I was lucky enough to turn the sport I loved into a career as a professional NBA player in the United States.
Every night, when we sit down in front of the television, the inevitable adverts pop up. That generic charity appeal that makes the room go silent, where a small, semi-naked, helpless child crawls across our television screens and the only thing we can do is awkwardly squirm or hope that our satellite box has enough minutes to fast forward.
Aid workers work in some tough places. Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Syria...the list goes on. It can be a difficult life - faced with daily tragedy on a massive scale, far from family and friends for months on end, unchanging stodgy and irregular food, limited clean water.
Helena Bonham Carter took more than a little style inspiration from Boy George while attending a Save The Children charity event last night, leaving u...
Imagine the horrors of healthcare in a warzone: children having limbs amputated because of a lack of medical supplies and equipment to treat their wounds. Patients knocked out with iron bars, rather than face an operation without anaesthetic. A newborn baby dying in an incubator because of power-cuts... For millions of people inside Syria - this is the reality of their lives now.
In an effort to save millions of newborn lives, we are urging all global leaders to take a stance this year and commit to a blueprint for change, namely, the Five Point Newborn Promise. This agenda focuses on training and equipping enough skilled healthcare workers to make sure no baby is born without proper help, and removing fees for all pregnancy and birth services.
I have just returned from a week in the Central African Republic (CAR). I was shocked by what I witnessed. Dead bodies littering the streets. Children shot and injured in the fighting. Hundreds of thousands of families driven into the bush by fear, living out in the open with no food or shelter. In the capital, thousands huddled around a monastery frightened for their lives. I will never forget the fear in the eyes of the children I met.