A New Hope

If I started mentioning extreme heat, drought, and dry winds, one could possibly think that I was talking about the United States this summer.  But then, they would be wrong.  I’m actually talking about east Africa… specifically, the countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya.  The hardest of these nations that has been hit is Somalia and thousands are fleeing their dried up lands for help in camps in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.  This trek can usually be a minimum of 50-miles with no food and no water.

At the start of this year, I made a set of goals as I do every year.  But this time, there was something different in it.  After seeing a special from ABC News titled “Be the Change: Save A Life”, I decided to get involved with the world around me… even if it was slightly indirectly.  I had been shown that even the smallest donation (maybe the cost of a dinner at a restaurant or a night out with some friends) that I could make a world of difference.  So the goal was to make some kind of donation each month with that in mind.  Seven months later, I have done just that.  I have helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people with just the simplest of donations.  I even made a separate donation to the people of Japan after their earthquake earlier in the year.  And so when I saw the report on ABC News about the severe drought in east Africa, I knew that I had to be involved, and I figured that I would make it my July contribution.  Through “Be the Change: Save a Life”, I was put to the website for the International Medical Corp which is helping to provide food, medicine, and other supplies to the people that are turning up in the camps suffering from malnutrition amongst other things.  It wasn’t a big donation, but I knew that every little bit helped.

When seeing the story on the TV, I was moved from deep within.  I can see the common bond that unites us all, though at times, we might not readily acknowledge it.  I was blessed to be born in the US where I have water to drink, food to eat, and a roof over my head.  In times that we enter a drought, I know that the rain will come again and that there is better hope for tomorrow.  These people don’t have that.  They are leaving everything behind because there is nothing left and setting out on a journey in the hopes that someone can help them.

Let’s put yourself in their shoes for a moment.  It hasn’t rained in nearly 2-years.  You are starving and thirsty.  You are sick from malnutrition.  You are watching your children slowly die of the exact same things… except their young bodies aren’t able to cope with it as well as your adult body is.  There will be no help from your government (because it’s largely non-existent), from your neighbors (because they are in the same situation that you are in), or from private organizations (because they simply don’t care).  So you gather up your family and you follow all of those in the trek for the humanitarian camps some 50-miles away.  It’s an arduous journey.  The entire way, it is hot and the wind is strong and dry.  There is still no food and no water.  But you press on anyway.  Along the way, one of your children gets so sick that he/she will not survive anymore.  So as the parents, you must make the most heart-felt decision possible.  You leave your child behind so that you and your other children might survive.  It is probably a decision that will always haunt you, but you know there was no other way.  By the time you reach the humanitarian camps, you see it overflowing with thousands upon thousands of people.  And yet there is something else there… there is hope.  People might be living in make-shift tents made from anything they can find, but there are doctors there.  There is also food and water.  There is hope that tomorrow might be better… for the first time in a long time.  You know that the reason that all of this is where it is is because of other people in other nations.  You don’t know them by name, and they don’t know you, but you know that they have supplied the money, the medicine, and the food and water so that these organizations can be there to help them.  You wish you could relay your most heartfelt thanks to those people, but realize that you will probably never get the chance… even if the media does show up to report on the story.  So you kneel down on the ground and begin to cry.  You thank whatever Higher Being you believe in for the love from strangers and for the chance to live.  You also cry for the child you left behind… wishing he/she would have been strong enough to make the journey.  It is the first time in a long time that you have a chance to reflect on what you’ve been through.  And you know the journey ahead will still not be easy since the drought still continues, but a renewed sense of hope resonates through you as there are kind and caring people throughout the world that care about you and about your neighbors.

Our most basic link between each other is our humanity.  It unites us all.  The people in east Africa are suffering in ways that I hope never to experience.  I have great compassion for these people and what they are going through.  To me, it’s unimaginable.  My donation wasn’t a lot, but I know it helps.  And now I must ask all of you to help, too.  Let’s show the people what a kind and caring people we are.  When dealing with this, we are not Americans, or English, or Japanese, or any other nationality.  We are humans… locked together on this planet that we call home.  What affects one group, affects us all.  And it’s in those times, that I have seen time and time again, that we rise above the situation to help our fellow man.  This time should be no different.  So for the price of a night out, won’t you please be a part of the change and save a life.

DISCLAIMER:  I do work for an ABC-affiliate… which is not owned by the ABC network.  I have not been asked or paid by ABC News, Be the Change: Save a Life, International Medical Corp, or any other company or organization to write this blog entry.  It was completely on my own and from my heart.

LINKS:
Be the Change: Save A Life
International Medical Corp.

ARTICLES:
http://saveone.net/#1774978/Kenya-s-Dadaab-Refugee-Camp-Unable-to-Accomodate-the-Growing-Need  (7/25)
http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/07/19/us.africa.hunger/index.html?iref=allsearch
http://allafrica.com/stories/201107190088.html

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