What are we to do in response to little Abdifatah?
Eleven-month-old Abdifatah Hassan, suffering from severe malnutrition, is cared for at a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders at a camp housing Somali refugees in Dadaab, Kenya. (from the L.A. Times by Roberto Schmidt / AFP/Getty Images / July 4, 2011)
Abdifatah is a victim of the famine in the Horn of Africa. They’re calling it the worst drought in 60 years.
My wife teaches in a school full of Somali children, many of them named Abdifatah (it’s a fairly common name, like John in the U.S.). Most, if not all, of her kids have family back in Somalia.
While famine has been officially declared in parts of Somalia, the crisis extends into Ethiopia and Kenya. Much of Southern Ethiopia, where my son Milo was born, is in a state of crisis or emergency. Families are starving.
I don’t know what to do in response to all this. You can donate money to any of several organizations on the ground (Save the Children, Doctors without Borders, Oxfam, UNICEF, World Vision, etc.).
But that feels so insignificant as I turn back to my own worries, which all seem insane after looking into Abdifatah’s vacant eyes.
It breaks my heart to hear the stories of starving children in Ethiopia. Thanks to drought, failed crops and rising food prices, Ethiopia faces a return to the 1984-85 famine that killed more than one million people. The Big Picture blog has stunning pictures.
- 4.5 million children are threatened with starvation.
- 75,000 children are currently suffering from severe malnutrition and need urgent care.
- 3.4 million Ethiopians will need food aid in the next three months.
- 6.8 million Ethiopians are at risk for malnutrition. (all stats via Telegraph)
Today Compassion International is holding a Day of Prayer and Fasting to combat the global food crisis. If you want to help, aside from prayer and fasting, you can donate to their Global Food Crisis Fund.
It’s hard for me to get my head around the fact that people around the world go hungry. I’m sitting here with four boxes of cereal on the kitchen table. There are two more different varieties in the cupboard, and when the Wheaties run out, there’s another box of those as well. When I get hungry, I eat. When I’m really hungry, I go out. When I crave chocolate, I can usually find it.
I am rich. And while it’s easy for my heart to go out to those who are hungry, it’s a lot harder for my actions to change in order to support them. I go back and forth from guilt and eagerness to change, to despair (how does giving up a Pepsi and eating PB&J make any difference?).
But today I suppose I can pray. I suppose I can eat less, maybe simpler. While it won’t change much, perhaps it will begin to change my attitude and that might begin to change my actions. Otherwise it feels like putting a bandaid on a severed limb.