The child in the photo was tiny and she looked sick. Wrapped in cloth, tubes coming out of her nose, some dirty bandages on her right cheek and a thin hand reaching towards the face. The caption said that she may have arrived too late at the German-run hospital in Somalia. The photo was dated Sunday. Today is Monday. Is she still alive? I will never know. Just like I will never know about the other many like her who will not make it.
Life is like that, many say, unfair. Granted. It is. Yet this is something of a different nature. It’s just that we happen to be on the other side of the fence. Lucky draw by all means. We have our own hungry ones, and we have to help them, by all means, but the thought of a child walking with her parents or siblings for hours or days just to get to a camp where there’s maybe some food, well, it’s gut-wrenching and I’ve never used the word before in my writing. It ain’t right at all. Yet stopping just at shaking heads and gently closing our eyes in sorrow will do nothing.
It’s not my built-in guilt when I say gratefulness should fuel the need to help. It’s just that we have it good. Not all of us unfortunately, and I am aware of that, but many do. So doing something about it feels right and necessary. I am not holier than thou at the moment, at any moment, really, but it bugs me. You see, I kept on reading about Somalia and other countries where malnutrition is rampant. With other problems tailing along like hungry hyenas but for now I’ll stick with the first, so I will not the spread your understanding and patience too thin. I came across this site called Project Peanut Butter. One of many trying to help. But not just saying we’re trying, but literally doing it. Someone with a vision and willing to do what it takes to help. He mixed some food that is mostly grown right there on the premises, and made it into a paste that nutritious and can be fed to malnourished kids, bring them back from the steps of death and give them a good boost. And he did that for many kids, saw how they thrive and now can’t stop. For about 25 dollars a life is saved, the website states. Simple as that. 25! That’s the price of a medium-size Lego set. Did it make you shudder? Yeah, I know, I shuddered too. I think most kids here can forgo the above-mentioned set, wouldn’t you say? I am not arguing for taking the bread off our kids’ hands but rather making a difference. Seeing things for what they are. You’ll most likely never hear the “Thank you for saving my life,” but it’s there. You know what the irony is though? Kids or adults who do not have that much bread to begin with are often more likely to lend a hand. It’s been seen time and time again along history. It was Jack London that said “A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.” They say you can’t put a price on human life. Times are a-changin’ I guess… It’s sad that we can, it’s good that we can.
The peanut butter thing is but one of the projects. There’s a lot of remarkable people out there doing remarkable things. People who put their lives on the line, been doing it for years. Many, that is, and if you ask them they’ll say not enough. The life on the line bit is not just a figure of speech, it really isn’t. Dave and Audry Waines of Equip Liberia have saving lives for the last 25 years. Literally. They took food to people, they took drugs and vaccines to them, they dug wells, they showed them how washing hands properly makes a world of difference – you’d think that’s a given, but ask Audry and she’ll tell you otherwise – they took care of moms and babies and they are still not done. No, they don’t go there for visits, they live there and occasionally come for visits here. That’s courage. Stubborn courage all mixed up with strong beliefs for good measure.
There is always a need for money, and there is a need for people to put their heart and time and energy into these projects and of course the cynics among us will say “There is so much need though, it’s hard to know where to start and how can you help everybody anyway.” Well, you cannot, but mother Teresa said “If you cannot feed a hundred, feed one.” That’s a good start, I’d say. It’s like that with everything, you start with one thing and before you know it you’ve done a hundred.
And if giving money for charity is not your thing, a microloan system might be just the thing. You see, the world of the needy has something for every palate and rightfully so.
Throw “microloan” into your Google search engine and you’ll find your way towards helpers like Plan or Kiva.
It’s a big world out there. Beautiful as it is, it is also needy. And painfully quiet most times. Either that or the noise we’re making on this side makes it hard for us to hear. So let’s be quiet for a bit then. See, I told you it’s there…now for the “do it” part.