How can I look at your bright eyes and light dance and tell you we are facing a war?

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Anya VerKamp
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Dear Victoria, sugar pie honey bunch, chiquita loquita,

As I write, you, my little sister, are 6 years old, and I am 25. I don’t think I will have kids of my own. The future, as far as we can predict it by looking at the political actions taken now, does not look friendly to life on planet earth. I am concerned about assuring your safety, and that of our parents and our brother. I don’t want to bring more people on to our fragile lifeboat.

You are the only chance I have had to witness the extraordinary blossoming of a human being as you discover the world and yourself. You were born brave and kind. I held you up to protect you from the splash of ocean waves. The first photograph you ever took was of me as I held the camera for you. You stuck your dolls in my garden patch. We fearlessly sang “Azuuuuul!” by Natalia Lafourcade at the top of our lungs. You sat and meditated next to me. No one had to teach you how to meditate.

How can I tell you? It’s going to be harder to find your favorite foods. The grass you play on is going to turn more yellow every summer. The trees and the animals are going to act strangely. The city in Peru where you were born, where your mother is from and your grandma lives, is going to have less drinkable water, more seawater, and more mudslides. How can I look at your bright eyes and light dance and tell you we are facing a war?

I can’t hug you right now. I live very far from you. I live in Europe and you live in the US. There’s an ocean between us. If I want to hold you, I would have to fly, and that would be bad for your future.

I have found it’s easier here to achieve victories for your future. Activists are protected. Communities organize to change. People are vigilant of policy. Still, things are getting desperate with each of your birthdays. My friends and I are willing to sacrifice not just our comforts, but our liberty, to stop the release of this poisonous gas into the air, because we love you and we hope peace and security are possible for you one day.

I can’t see you very often. But I think of you every day. I put a picture of you smiling in a place I always see it. You are why I act.

Keep singing, baby. Keep leaping with faith. Stay brave and kind. I will too. I will fight for a better world.

I love you. Te amo.
Anya

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