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.
Be that somebody. Click here.
FASCINATING ARTICLE ON THE FAMINE IN HUFFINGTON POST… including ways to prevent another!