I am thankful

It’s Thanksgiving and like nearly everyone on Facebook and Instagram, I am “full of gratitude” and “blessed.” My children are healthy and happy and I am able to spend another year with my family. I am also carrying around a heavy heart, for I am acutely aware that many children both here and abroad are suffering greatly. It is with these emotions that I list some less-traditional—albeit very personal reasons—that I am thankful. 

I am thankful that I live in a country where I feel safe falling asleep at night. Where even though terrible things can happen, I am not living in fear of persecution for my religion, appearance, or geographical location. I think about the millions of children who ran and continue to flee from unspeakable violence who are now sleeping in tents or out in the elements, fear never quite leaving their bodies, even when at rest. I worry about the toll of the traumatic stress on their little minds and bodies.

I am thankful that my children have full access to lifesaving medications such as immunizations, antibiotics, bronchodilators, and epinephrine. I think about the millions of refuges children that flee their homes without them and pray they have not risked their lives fleeing only to lose their life to a vaccine preventable illness.

I am thankful that my husband is able to work and sleep and live with us every day. I know millions of families are apart during the holidays and that this is an especially hard time for the children of our United States servicemen and women. I have deep gratitude and respect for their service to our country and to the world. My children and I talk of these families often so they understand that our personal freedoms are not without a great cost.

I am thankful for the many child advocates out there that are reaching deep into communities in need to help identify what children are lacking and who seek to empower parents to provide stable, safe homes for their children. I am thankful to the many families I know who look back at their own childhoods and work hard to offer their children more love, more security and a stronger foundation. I am grateful to the organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics who focus on improving the lives of children by advocating on their behalf without expectation for financial gain.

I am thankful for Bundoo, where we can share information, build a community, and connect families in hopes of improving their health and well-being.

For just a few moments, open your hearts and minds to those refugee children that have left their homes. Setting aside religion, circumstance, and personal opinion, just consider what it would be like as a very young child to leave home without your belongings and wander out into a foreign land, without promise of even the basic personal necessity. To see great stress and fear etched on the faces of the people around you and experience physical discomfort as you move through the day. Regardless of where you think those families “should” or “should not” be, feel for a moment the humanity of those children as you share a Happy Thanksgiving with yours.

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About Dr. Sara Connolly, Board Certified Pediatrician

Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, is a Board Certified Pediatrician who practices in Palm Beach County, Florida. She completed her residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she served as Chief Resident. She has a passion for child advocacy and has worked on the local, state, and national level to increase access to care for children. Her interests include nutrition, breastfeeding, and parenting skills.


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