CLC staffer was to be in WTC days later

While the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 took place hundreds of kilometers from the Toronto offices of Campaign Life Coalition, several staff and volunteers were intimately affected by the tragic events of that day.

Samantha Singson, who works in the offices when she is not at school, had just returned from New York after spending the summer as an intern at the World Youth Alliance.

That morning when news that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre, she was asleep in the car on her way to work when her mother, Yoli, a project manager for CLC, woke her. She thought that while the incident was certainly unfortunate, at the time, it was not known if it was an accident or deliberate. She wanted to go back to sleep.

By the time they arrived at CLC, most staff and volunteers were gathered around the television, watching the horrible events unfold on screen.

“It was so surreal,” Samantha told The Interim. “I was horrified to see the images of the plane crashing into the towers, the explosion and the billowing smoke, but all of a sudden the building was just gone.” Almost immediately, her first instinct was to want to be there.

“I thought I should be there,” she said.

“I adopted New York as my home. I know I couldn’t have done much to help, but I wanted to be there.”

Because the United Nation’s Special Session on Children was to run Sept. 19-21, Samantha had planned to return to New York Sept. 15 to begin training for the session and to meet the permanent missions of the UN. The days preceding the Special Session were to include a get-together for pro-life youth at Windows on the World, a restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center, a favourite venue for Culture of Life events, which this time was to include swing dancing.

Yoli told The Interim that had the terrorists chosen a date several days on either side of the one that they actually carried out their savage attack, her daughter might very well have been a victim. Watching the events unfold on the television screen, Yoli was shaking and near tears. The events may have occurred in a another country, hundreds of kilometres away, but they hit close to home.

Samantha, on the other hand, was less worried about what might have been and focused on her friends and acquaintances in New York whom she was trying to contact. She had trouble reaching them because both land and cell phone lines were down. It was not until 3 p.m., almost six hours after the ordeal began, that she heard from anyone from the city and she wasn’t able to reach one friend until five days later.

People who know the Singsons were themselves concerned about Samantha’s safety, as dozens of friends and family called and emailed CLC offices to find out if she was still in New York.

Both mother and daughter took calls throughout the day to say, “Yes, Sam is safe, here in Toronto.” Yoli reports that one person called to ask how Samantha was, to which she replied, “Of course she is. You were just talking to her before she transferred you to me. She’s fine.”

Now that the General Assembly Special Session on Children has been postponed until the first quarter of 2002, Samantha will focus on her studies at the University of Toronto, where she is a fourth year international

relations and political science student. Although her mother is not enthusiastic about the idea of her daughter returning to New York, Samantha plans to be at the UN when the special session resumes.

All UN activities were halted on Sept. 11, all meetings were postponed and for the weeks that followed, only essential workers and diplomats had access to the UN building.

However, pro-life, pro-family organizations worry that radical non-governmental organizations may try to influence the document that will be presented to the General Assembly next year.

The session was to receive the document A World Fit for Children, a 10-year review of the World Summit for Children. In recent months,the United States, Poland, the Holy See and most Muslim nations, supported by pro-life and pro-family NGOs, were successful in ensuring the document was a good one.

Samantha reports that it is “a fairly good document” and a lot “better than many of us expected.” She noted the victory of pro-family advocates in having the vital role parents play in the lives of their children recognized in the document and calls for government support of parental rights. She also noted there are references to sexual abstinence and modifications to the document to respect cultural and religious values.

The handful of NGOs that support traditional values are needed at the UN to offset the anti-life, anti-family NGOs that number literally in the hundreds.

Samantha said CLC and other pro-life groups support delegates by assisting in the interpretation of text or providing alternative language that is less ambiguous or problematic.

In June, U.S. delegate Terry Miller successfully pressed Canadian delegate Andras Vamos-Goldman, legal affairs with the permanent mission at the UN for Canada, to admit that “reproductive health services” meant access to abortion. It was the first time any delegate or official at the UN admitted that reproductive services included abortion.

Fortunately, the phrase reproductive health services did not make the final document because the U.S. objected and requested that the phrase be “bracketed,” meaning there was no consensus on this portion of the document.

That is not to say that it will not find its way back into the document, or that pro-abortionists will not continue to push for abortion services in future documents and conferences.

Samantha said it is possible that anti-life forces would try to re-insert some negative language, but that such changes are highly unlikely.

“It would be viewed as opportunistic to try to make changes when the UN is not fully staffed and not all the NGOs are available.”