I despise math. My clearest (and most traumatic) memory of high school is my senior year sitting in the middle of geometry realizing “this is where it ends, this will be the reason I don’t graduate.” When it came to anything other than math I was fine, I could write papers for days and learn a study guide forwards, backwards, and upside down but when it came to math I struggled and miscalculated my way into failing nearly every test that was set in front of me outside of basic math that could be done with a calculator or counted up on my fingers. In a store, I can compute every item on the clearance rack in seconds. (I truly am smarter than a fifth grader.) But if you offered me a million dollars to calculate the number one million using trig or that-calculator-one, I would curl up on my bedroom floor and cry even now. (PSA.. I squeaked by geometry with a C and graduated high school.)
Here are some numbers that a simple mind like mine can’t grasp.
There are 153,000,000 orphans in the world, 18,000,000 who have lost both parents. (428,000 of those children are in the US foster care system at any given time – Over 670,000 went through the foster care system at SOME POINT in 2015… more than 12,000 of those were in Georgia.) Every day 5,769 children become orphans. Every year 14,500,000 children age out their country/state’s orphan care system. Of the 14,500,000 who age out, 4,200,000 of the young women will become prostitutes and 4,900,000 of the young men will end up in prison. 400,000,000 abandoned children live on their own. 1,200,000 children are trafficked each year globally.
If you read these numbers anything like the way I typed them, you just glossed over all the zeros and saw the precise number of “it’s a really big problem” and “that’s a really, really big number.” (Too many zeros?) These kinds of numbers are just too much to even process. These kinds of numbers are overwhelming, impenetrable.
American family units are equal to nearly all of the orphans in the entire world. American family units outnumber foster children 1,075 to 1 (298 to 1 in the state of Georgia.) Average Americans live on 70 times the amount of money the average orphan lives on. When you look at it like this, the numbers aren’t overwhelming in the least. In fact, it’s almost shocking there’s a “crisis” at all.
I recently read an article about advocacy that recommended when you share stats you should “choose the smallest numbers.” No matter your math prowess, none of us do well absorbing all the zeros. We shouldn’t focus on the millions, we should focus on the “ones.”
So, you, one person reading this one article: There is one child lying in bed in your town who went to sleep without care, without protection. There is one couple in need of funds to bring their one child home through adoption. There is one single mother in a remote village, who is struggling to provide for her one child. There is one foster mom in your church needing prayer and encouragement and help. There is one child in an orphanage across the world who’s never known the love of a parent. We’re not talking numbers any more. Now we’re talking people.
For the vast number of needs that need to be filled, we each have our own numbers we bring to the table: the hours in our days, the beds in our homes, the dollars in our bank accounts. And most of all, the one number we all have: this one life given to each of us to live.
(All numbers are estimates, change on a second-by-second basis, and were pulled from UNICEF & UN reports.)