By: Julie Mills
For Richard Moore his peace process was forgiveness. Richard believes first and foremost forgiveness was the best gift he could give himself. Richard also believes forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it does change the future.
Richard Moore is a 52 year old man that was born and raised in Derry, Northern Ireland. On May 4, 1972, several months after Bloody Sunday, while walking home from school, Richard was struck by a rubber bullet hitting him on the bridge of his nose and leaving him blind for the rest of his life.
On that day just as any other day, at about 20 passed 3 in the afternoon, Richard was running home from school with several other boys that attended St. Eugene’s Primary school. As the boys ran through the soccer pitch of St. Joseph’s School on their way home to Creggan Estate, close by was the British Army installation, a British soldier fired the rubber bullet which changed his life forever.
Richard remembers his brother being very angry and wanted retaliation upon the soldier who fired the rubber bullet. Richard’s parents were very devout Catholics. They went to mass every day. Neither one of them wanted revenge or wanted harm placed upon the soldier. Richard’s mother told his brother, “If you want to help Richard, you help him, but you cannot help him by hurting somebody else.”
Four months before Richard’s accident, his uncle Gerry McKinney was shot and killed during Bloody Sunday. Richard’s mom’s brother was killed by a soldier and now her 10 year old son was injured for life. His parents were traumatized, brokenhearted and deeply hurt, but his parents were never angry. His parents promoted forgiveness. That is where Richard got his ability to forgive.
As the years passed, Richard began his Peace Process. Richard says forgiveness is the greatest gift of all. Even though Richard was blinded as a child, he always felt like he had a good life and never felt like he was in any way losing out. While working as a businessman in the City of Derry, Richard used to work with development workers who came from overseas, and Richard became enthralled about what was happening overseas. Richard then felt pulled towards Africa and wanted to help those children in need. Richard realized there were children in other parts of the world that may have their eyesight, but didn’t have what he had; they didn’t have the opportunities that he had. He then became interested in the children in the world who lived in poverty. To Richard poverty is an issue of justice. He wanted to be a voice for children who couldn’t be a voice for themselves.
In 1996, Richard started the non-profit organization Children in Crossfire. Children in Crossfire is a poverty relief organization put in place to help children under the age of 8 years old who live in Tanzania, Ethiopia and The Gambia. Children in Crossfire’s main area of focus is primary education, preschool education, nutrition, and early detection of disabilities. Children in Crossfire works with local organizations in those areas to help empower the people. They believe in giving the people the power of decision and to take control of their own lives. The people of these areas need to become sustainable and allow people to make decisions.
Children in Crossfire raises money through a variety of events such as holding charity event dinners, raising money through zip lining events over the River Foyle, run an Advent campaign during the Christmas holiday in Ireland, and also raise money from the general public by placing collection cans in supermarkets and other stores.
Richard believes his organization cannot cure poverty. They are a small organization. They aren’t capable of curing poverty, but they can impact positively in the communities where they operate. One example where this has happened in Tanzania is at a children’s cancer project. Children were being treated in a rat infested shed. There was very little medical equipment. Only 12% of the children were surviving. Today through funding that has been received, there is now a hospital facility that has proper medicine for the children, and there is a school attached for the children who are well enough to attend. There is also a hostile for their parents to stay and an area that allows the parents to produce products such as beaded necklaces to sell to help make money for them. The success rate of survival is now up to 60%.
Children in Crossfire is also helping parents get educated about malnutrition. They are helping the parents grow vegetables while educating parents how to recognize the signs of malnutrition. In Ethiopia 150 health workers are now going into the villages and teaching parents how to prepare food for a balanced diet. In two years Children in Crossfire has reached their three year goal of reducing malnutrition by 30%.
When I asked Richard the reason for choosing this organization he told me that he realized there were much worse things than blindness. And he realized he may have had his difficulties, but he could overcome those. It was possible for him to live a normal, active life as a blind person. If someone like him can come through given what he went through, he believes anybody, given the right opportunity and given the right choices and level of support, is capable of not only surviving but of contributing in a positive way to their own life and the lives of their family and community. And these children in Africa if given the right opportunity, they will contribute in a positive way to their environment. The motto of Children in Crossfire is giving children the chance to choose, and every child deserves the right to be able to say I want to be, I want to do.
As Richard Moore chose his Peace Process to help these children through his charitable organization, he encourages every individual to enter their own mind and ask the question what is my peace process. We can all make a difference by spreading peace worldwide.
Donations may be given at www.childrenincrossfire.org