There Is No Me Without You

November 11th, 2007

I’ve started reading a book called “There is No Me Without You: One woman’s odyssey, to rescue her country’s children.” by Melissa Fay Greene. I’m only four chapters in but so far I am really liking this book. I tend to gravitate towards books in the “social justice” genre. Books that are written by journalists who live the life of the subject they are writing about such as “There are No Children Here“, “Ordinary Resurrections“, and “Among School Children“. This book is one of those.

The problem with reading those books is I usually read them and get frustrated, angry, sad, and fed-up with “The Man“. What ever the issue is in the book I want to be able to help. I end up slamming the book shut on the last page and start thinking, “how can I fix this?” and then get more frustrated because I can’t.

This book has lots of statistics in it that show the plight of Ethiopia and it’s people. And this while reading, I feel the sense of urgency that this is a country in need and for once, I am actually doing something to help.

In the year 2000 there were 12 million orphans in Africa and more than twenty-five percent of those lived in NIgeria and Ethiopia. Eleven percent of all children in Ethiopia were orphans.

By 2010, between twenty-five million and fifty million African children, from newborn to age fifteen, would be orphans. In a dozen countries, up to a quarter of the nation’s children. The numbers were completely ridiculous.
Twelve million, fourteen million, eighteen million-how could numbers so high be answers to anything other than “How many stars are in the universe?” or “How many light-years from the Milky Way is the Virgo Supercluster?”

Who was going to raise 12 million children? Who was teaching 12 million children how to swim? Who was going to sign 12 million permission slips for school field trips and pack 12 million school lunches? Who was going to by 12 million sneakers that light up when you jump? Backpacks? Toothbrushes? 12 million pairs of socks? Who will tell 12 million bedtimes stories? Who will quiz 12 million children on Thursday night for their Friday morning spelling test? 12 million trips to the dentist? 12 million birthday parties? Who will offer grief counseling to twelve, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-six million children?

In this case, I know I can’t help twelve million children. But I can do something to help 2 or 3.

And lastly, I really liked this quote on how they feel about adoption:

Adoption is not the answer to HIV/AIDS in Africa. Adoption rescues few. Adoption illuminates by example: these few once-loved children – who lost their parents to preventable diseases – have been offered a second chance at family life in foreign countries; like young ambassadors, they instruct us.

“Adoption is a last resort,” [Greene] would be told by Haddush Haleform, head of the Children’s Commission under Ethiopia’s Ministry of Labor, “I am deeply respectful of the families who care for our children,” he said. “But I am so very interested in any help that can be given to us to keep the children’s first parents alive. Adoption is good but children, naturally, would prefer not to see their parents die.”

Adoption is a last resort for most of these children. It means that not only have they lost their parents but they have lost all their family. For me, this helps reiterate my feelings that we are not some all-wonderful American family “rescuing” a child from a horrible country. Instead, we are able to step and care for and create a family for a child that has none.

One Response to “There Is No Me Without You”

  1. Noel on January 29, 2009 11:40 am

    One can also help by supporting agencies such as AHOPE (also mentioned in the book). This is much smaller than adopting a child, but is an easy way to help do your part.

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