29,000 Dead Children

There’s a lot of shitty news these days, huh? I feel like it just piles and piles and comes flying so fast you can hardly keep track of it.

I’ll admit, it barely affects me anymore (in stark contrast to my early twenties when I would sob for three miles walking to work after passing a wet, shivering, mentally-ill homeless guy). We’re desensitized and kind of numb. Paralyzed and overwhelmed.

Every once in a while, one of the statistics gets through. This time it was this one: More than 29,000 children under the age of 5 have died of starvation in the last 90 days in southern Somalia.

That’s a lot of dead kids, folks.

Then I saw the now-famous image in the NYT from Tyler Hicks. That is photo-journalism doing its job. That is photo-journalism kicking you in the fucking face.

What can we do? Lots, of course.

What bothered me most about working in Mother Teresa’s homes for the dying was not watching people die, it was the fact that many of the Christians with whom I worked side by side (I would have still called myself a Christian then) refused to acknowledge the global economic structure that underpinned the cycle of suffering. We need people in poverty to maintain our lifestyle.

They’re preferred rationale came from the Bible: the meek shall inherit the Earth. Pie in the sky. (These people are going to a better place!) I never bought it. I’m not advocating a lifetime of eternal guilt, but for fucksake, we need to at least be talking about what is going on. Calcutta was the last straw for me and Christianity. I returned home agnostic.

This is a big conversation and one not really fit for a blog post so I’ll return to my original intent: Somalia. I don’t have any real answers, but I believe that Mercy Corps is doing good things. People in Somalia need food and medicine and I believe that Mercy Corps can navigate the dangerous political and military situation there to deliver it.

If you can, skip a few lattes and donate.

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4 comments

  1. Thanks Heidi, I’m on to it!

  2. There are some scary numbers out around how many people/children are suffering and dying in East Africa at the moment. However, mostly what I find is scary is the lack of world interest.

    The Guardian touched on this issue the other day:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/08/somalia-famine-appeal-raises-less

    I am not into donating money during a crisis, but I did this time to UNICEF. Hopefully others will donate too and ease some of the suffering.

  3. The Frye boots that I’ve been dreaming of can wait. The money has been redirected to Mercy Corps instead. Thanks Heidi.

  4. Robin Frost

    I can understand your frustration with poverty and senseless children’s deaths. I just don’t think you should throw out the baby with the bath regarding your faith. Consistently statistics have shown that 85% of the aid provided in India comes from Christians of all denominations. Blaming those same groups for not doing enough seems harsh and does not hold all those agnostics and atheists accountable to not just talk about injustice, but put their money and time where their mouths are! 15% won’t cut it and is enough to make me give up on unbelief.

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