As part of CCAI’s 20/20 Vision Program, I had the privilege of coordinating a congressional delegation to the United Kingdom and Ethiopia during the August recess here on Capitol Hill. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) led the official Congressional delegation and was joined by Ambassador Susan Jacobs, the recently appointed Special Advisor to the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (reporting directly to Secretary Clinton), as well as Mr. Gary Newton, USAID’s Special Advisor for Orphans and Children.
CCAI is honored to be a part of what we believe is essential to moving Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) policy forward in the world by bringing the government sectors together along with the private sectors and faith-based groups. Toward that end, CCAI and Senator Landrieu’s delegation coordinated with the Legatum Institute of London and Buckner Bright Hope of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Buckner International of Dallas Texas to create an incredible itinerary to raise awareness of the children around the globe in need of permanent, loving families.
The delegation’s visit to London was graciously hosted by Dr. Jean Geran and Natalie Gonnella at the Legatum Institute, who also launched the fabulous EACH Campaign in March, 2010. Legatum Institute arranged for Senator Landrieu to meet with two Members of Parliament – Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick and Mr. Nick Smith – to discuss the issues surrounding orphans and vulnerable children and the legislative work of the U.S. members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption toward finding permanency for these children. The meeting was followed by a larger program with a panel of presenters from the United Kingdom and United States, including Secretary Andrew Mitchell, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for International Development.
The delegation then concluded their short visit to London with a tour of the Foundling Museum, which tells the story of London’s first home for abandoned children – the Foundling Hospital. The Foundling Hospital’s work was supported by philanthropist Thomas Coram and his friends: artist William Hogarth whose beautiful pieces grace the walls of many rooms in the museum, as well as the renowned composer George Frideric Handel who regularly played his Messiah at benefit concerts for the Hospital. The Hospital’s care for abandoned, parentless children was cutting edge in 1739, and the historical lessons the delegation heard were quite amazing. How far we have come since that time, but how much work still remains!
After a short but quite full day in London, the delegation was off to Heathrow Airport to catch our overnight flights to Addis Ababa where we had four more days of meetings.
-Becky Weichhand, Director of Policy