Friday, February 18, 2011


I view as angels men and women who have lifted our spirits - filled our hearts and lives with inspiration, encouragement, positive acts of love and kindness. They help us believe in ourselves, give us hope that a better tomorrow is waiting for us, despite the trials, hard times, difficult circumstances and adversities that contend and surround us. They inspire in us, determination and persistence to keep trying, learning and living despite the odds. Angels are those AWESOME and ASTONISHING people who have opened for us doors to new frontiers, charted paths for humankind and left behind indelible footprints of gold on the sands of time.

One of the beautiful and outstanding angels that has visited this planet earth and lived amongst us is Charles Loring Brace. He is considered the father of modern foster care movement and most recognized for initiating the Orphan Train and founding the Childrens’ Aid Society. Imagine yourself a child, abandoned on the streets of New York. Your immigrant parents died on the ship on the way to America. You have no money and no relatives. You can't speak English. And you are left to fend for yourself. As many as 30,000 orphans found themselves in exactly that predicament in 1850. They slept in alleys, huddling for warmth in boxes or metal drums. To survive, the boys mostly stole, caught rats to eat, or rummaged in garbage cans. Brace witnessed many children in New York City who lived in poverty with parents who abused alcohol and engaged in criminal activity. These children were sent to beg for money and sell newspapers and matches in the streets. Girls sometimes worked as "panel thieves" for sex workers, slipping their tiny hands through camouflaged openings in the wall to lift a watch or wallet from a preoccupied customer. They became known as ‘Street Arabs’ or ‘The dangerous Classes’ due to the street violence and gangs they became a part of. Some of the homeless children and runaways as young as five years old were sent to jails where adults were imprisoned as well. The police referred to these children as ‘Street Rats.’ Immigrants where flooding New York City and no one had time or money to look after the orphans; except the angel

Horrified by their plight and determined to improve the children’s situation and their future, he organized a unique solution, the Orphan Train. His idea was simple: pack hundreds of orphans on a train heading west and announce to towns along the way that anyone could claim a new son or daughter when the Orphan Train chugged through. By the time the last Orphan Train steamed west in 1929, seventy- five years after it begun. In 1910, the Children’s’ Aid Society estimated that 87 percent of the children placed by the Orphan Train program had done well. 100,000 children had found new homes and new lives. TWO ORPHANS FROM SUCH TRAINS BECAME GOVERNORS, ONE SERVED AS A UNITED STATES CONGRESS MAN, AND STILL ANOTHER WAS A U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE. This angel died in 1890 from Bright’s disease. After his death, the Brace Memorial farm was created for street children to learn farm skills, manners, and personal social skills to help prepare them for life on their own. One way or another we are all making history with our lives in our families, our home communities and societies, leaving footprints and tracks behind us – making memories for others to enjoy or endure. From my perspective, the Bible the most AWESOME and AMAZING book in the universe highlights this "We all have happy memories of good men gone to their reward, but the name of wicked men stink after them" Proverbs 10:7

Every man and woman shall be remembered for the problems they caused or the ones they solved. Here are two questions I have been pondering for awhile now: How different would the world be because of me? Would planet earth be better and more beautiful because I live? How many hungry and impoverished children would i provide with food and water in my lifetime? I want to remind anyone reading this that one of the world's icons, Mother Teresa once said; “If you can't feed a hundred, then feed just one." I think what the world needs at the moment and beyond, is more love, less racism, discrimination, less prejudice and bias, more tolerance, less walls, more bridges, more kindness, more bravery and positive action, more heroes and heroines, less self-centered thinking and more others-centered thinking. One of my heroes, Helen Keller once said; "Alone we can do little; together we can do much."

Let’s join our hands across races, gender, skin colour, religion and continents to solve the problems on this planet.