“What If We Were the Ones Broke Down and Torn?”
A day I spent the weekend NOT thinking about. Or at least telling myself to NOT think about. Another ultrasound. Another opportunity to take off my clothes, slip into a scratchy hospital gown, and lie back on a table so a technician can shake a bottle of goo, fresh from the warmer, and splatter it onto the skin above my ovaries.
As I walked down the wildflower strewn road at my parent’s house on Sunday morning, I had a little pity party for myself about the rock and the hard place I am stuck between.
When I got back to the house, I flopped onto the guestroom bed (insert dramatic, I hate my life flop), pulled my laptop onto my knees, and logged on to Facebook to escape my troubles.
As soon as I saw this picture, my clouded perspective cleared, like a crowded etch-a-sketch after a good shake. The fear of cancer is real, and I don’t want to downplay it (especially for the many people who are fighting for their lives). But when I get out of my head, I see how minor my current “I might end up with cancer again” fears are when compared to the tens of thousands of people who have died of starvation recently in East Africa…
A CBC article about what the United Nations is calling the worst hunger emergency in a generation caught my attention and rattled me out of my ‘poor me’ funk. The World Food Program estimates 11.3 million people across the Eastern Horn of Africa urgently need food and medical supplies. 11.3 million people!
I know sometimes my eyes glaze over (and maybe yours do too) when I think about the magnitude of this crisis. It becomes easy to forget that each of these people have a story. In a CBC article written by Kazi Stasna, he interviews Austin Kennan of the Concern Aid Organization who says, “The stories are actually what made it so horrendous, because every single family had lost two or more children.”
His words lodge in my head on repeat, “every single family has lost two or more children.” How can a mother bear this kind of suffering? How would you bare it?
Kennan goes on to say, “Often, it’s women [walking] alone with children, so they’re not even able to bury them properly; they just have to leave them and walk on, hoping that somebody else will bury them for them, which is absolutely traumatic.”
Sitting and thinking about what this might feel like makes my stomach knot and bile rise into my throat. It’s easier to read an article like this and think, “what can I really do?” before sliding back into my own worries. But, what if it was you or me? What if we had to leave our dead child on the side of the road with the hope we might find food quickly enough to save the child strapped to our back?
In an article written by Ian Robertson for the Toronto Sun, he quotes Dave Toycen, World Vision Canada president, “Our greatest concern is for the children. Reports of children so malnourished, they can’t cry anymore. The ability to weep is the last stage before dehydrated, malnourished people die. The sound of silence for babies is often the sound of death.”
I can’t read these words without feeling incredible sadness for these families blended with what I hate to admit feels a little like relief. Relief that my niece and nephews, who I spent the weekend with, are not dying of dehydration and malnutrition.
Even this relief breaks my heart. Especially because on my recent trip to South Africa, I was constantly reminded that as humans, we are all the same. The people fighting for survival have the same dreams and hopes for their families. They experience the same joy and pain. Their children have the same desire for love and freedom.
At yoga yesterday, Reno, (one of my favourite Semperviva teachers) played Soja’s song, Everything Changes. I hadn’t heard it before, but the lyrics grabbed me and replayed in my mind for the rest of the evening.
What if we were the ones with nothing to eat? And we were the ones with blood in our streets? We were the ones with all of the offspring and they were the ones just watching on TV?
We were the ones broke down and torn with our life on our back and our wife in our arms? And they were the ones like, oh that’s so sad…
What if we were the ones “broke down and torn with our life at our back and our wife in our arms”? The factors contributing to this crisis are complicated, but in some respects what we need to do is simple. People just like you and I are starving, watching their children die, and wondering when the nightmare will end. We need to do whatever we can to help…
Please join me, if you haven’t already, in finding some funds to help our African brothers and sisters. Please also spread the word by sharing this post on Twitter and Facebook. If I was starving and my children were dying, I know you would do whatever you could to help me.
For Canadians, here is a list CBC put together of experienced humanitarian organizations working in the region. For every dollar we donate to a registered charity between now and September 16, the Canadian federal government will match it. So even if you can only afford $25, you will make a $50 difference. If you are reading this from the USA, here is the link with options for you to donate.