STOCK MARKET PLUMMETS… (600,000 children at risk of starvation)

All photos by Kate Holt/ CARE International

On Friday, after a few weeks of freaking out over my tanking 401K and bearing reluctant witness to the lunatic debt-debacle in Washington, I finally tuned in to Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN, reporting from Somalia. It was pretty hard to feel sorry for myself (or this country) after watching children with matchstick legs and vacant eyes being fanned by their grieving mothers as they wasted away.

And then I watched this video of Bono, calling us all out.

And then I started reading everything I could about the famine in the Horn of Africa. Like the fact that this is the most severe drought in 60 years. Like the fact that tens of thousands kids have already died in the past 3 months, and it’s going to get far, far worse before it gets better, because no rain is expected til the end of the year. 12 million people are at risk of starvation. And every day, 2,500 people (80% of them women and children) stagger across the border into overcrowded refugee camps so desperate for food, they’ve left everything behind – even dead children by the side of the road. The tragic numbers are too big to ignore – but apparently we’re doing a pretty good job of it. In yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, I couldn’t find a single article on Somalia. I read about fried Snickers in Iowa. I read about Rick Perry’s goal to raise $10 million in the next ten days (thanks Citizens United), and I read about Chinese film directors and Libyan rebels. But Somalia was a non-starter.While the United Nations is appealing for $300 million from the international community, help has been agonizingly slow in coming. People’s hearts poured out to Haiti, New Orleans and Thailand in their hours of need, but Somalia isn’t exactly the kind of country that people feel warm and fuzzy about. It’s the country associated with Blackhawk Down and pirates, government-less and in a state of virtual anarchy for 20 years. Somalia has been ravaged by war, rebels and drought and I think it’s difficult for people to believe there is any way to help – or that the people there even want our help.

But relief is possible. It’s happening today. And we have to make sure it continues to happen. Organizations like CARE are on the ground, in Mogadishu and the refugee camps, working tirelessly to rehydrate babies, offer tents and sustenance to mothers, and keep people from dying right where they stand.

Because apparently famine in the Horn of Africa is old news –even when it’s freshly, horribly desperate — I guess it’s up to you and me to spread the word. And send in our money.

I’m giving $100 to CARE today, and asking everybody reading this to give something. Anything. Even with our economic woes, we’ve got so much and these people have nothing but the trust that if they walk until they can barely stand, somebody will help them and their babies.

CARE is a 4-stary Charity Navigator charity.

Be that somebody. Click here.


21 thoughts on “STOCK MARKET PLUMMETS… (600,000 children at risk of starvation)

  1. The world is grateful for your voice Betty. Thank you for reminding us that though the Horn of Africa is not our favorite place for charitable donations, people in Somalia are starving, or while we look the other way, innocent children are dying.

    I’m glad to know that CARE is working in Mogadishu. I cannot forget that the photojournalist Martin Adler – whom I wrote about in a post last July – was shot dead in that city on June 23 2006 by an unknown gunman, while photographing a PEACE rally.

    • Rosie, I will never forget your piece on Martin Adler, but I did not remember he was killed in Mogadishu. Somalia is in such bad shape, that it’s sometimes difficult to remember that Somalis are the ones who have suffered most under the total anarchy and 20-year war with the rebels. CARE is mostly working in the refugee camps on the Kenya border … I know some aid is getting into Mogadishu through the UN … but people are literally walking hundreds of miles with their children to try to get to the borders and get some food. SO tragic!!

  2. Betty, it’s awful that we….. sometimes….. look away. Thank you for your post and for reminding us of what really matters in life. As Mother Theresa once said, “If you cannot feed one hundred people, feed one.” I hope that my share will feed a lot of people. Namaste.

    • Olga, It’s difficult not to sometimes look away from the awful stuff — and sometimes we just have to. But the important thing is, when we do look and pay attention, to do something positive, something compassionate! I am so touched that you’ve made a contribution … you’re the BEST!

  3. I think it’s wonderful that you talk about this situation! It’s abhorrent how much we ignore this. In Austria, there’s a hunger relief campaign and the people are very sympathetic and give a lot. But the Austrian government only gave about 1,5 million euros, which is a shame considering Sweden gave 13 times more. I think it’s a disgrace that in today’s world people starve to death and it’s even more unsettling that NGO’s and the UN were warning about this situation for such a long time and nobody paid attention. I hope you inspire a lot of people to give!

    • Love your comment, Sigrid, and it’s always good to know that globally, people are reaching out to help! I think part of the problem is that famine and drought in
      the Horn of Africa has been so common and chronic, people don’t realize how dire this particular situation truly is! Thanks so much for what you’re giving!!

  4. Once again Betty you are changing the world. Thanks for this brilliant piece….I’ve made my donation to CARE and posted this piece on my Facebook page. Love you!!!

  5. It’s unimaginable the pain and suffering of so many for lack of basic necessities. I appreciate your posts and thank you for the link to CARE.

  6. Bono is an idiot and a hypocrite who will use any headline-grabbing news story to boost his own career – but you, Betty, most assuredly are not. And I’m really glad that you’ve given me the impetus to actually make the donation I’ve been “kind of meaning to make” for several weeks. The situation is a nightmare of biblical proportions, and it would be shameful for any one of us to look the other way.

    • Sarah — you totally crack me up and I love the way you never mince your words! I feel the same way about “meaning to give” — and it wasn’t until I saw the photos on CNN that I just was horrified to think that I’d been so laissez-faire about giving. And oddly, when you’re feeling depressed or anxious, giving to somebody far less fortunate always makes you feel better! xoxoxo b

  7. Thank you Betty! I made a donation to care today. I have also convinced my book club to pool some money to make mirco loans through

    • Wonderful idea about Kiva — doing something to promote a sustainable solution! And book clubs are a natural place for women to come together to change things (as well as drink wine and chatter away)! Thanks for donating to CARE, Leslie!!

  8. The scary thing is the media reports of aid being blocked. I dontated to Mercy Corps, AJWS, and UNICEF in hopes at least some of their connections can be effective in getting the food and ORS therapy where it needs to be….

    • Hi Betsy — You are an angel to give so generously and thoughtfully! I have been told that Mogadishu is basically open to the aid organizations now — but it’s still
      an awfully dangerous place to send workers. So the long-suffering people of Somalia (particularly those coming from the Southern provinces where the famine is most severe) are taking it upon themselves to go to where the aid is available… and walking to the borders of Kenya and Ethiopia where the aid organizations are distributing food and emergency help. Mercy Corps and UNICEF are such great organizations that, like CARE, are there in the thick of it!

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