Over the last weeks the world news has been reporting about the desperate famine in East Africa. The coverage has been strategic in raising awareness about the disaster. However, my worry is that people will start to become desensitised at the sight of emaciated, malnourished babies dying in their mother’s arms. That would be one tragedy too many for people who have already suffered so much.
What if the situation were reversed? We live in a fragile world and the reality is that those suffering could easily be our parents, grandparents, children, siblings….the people we love the most. Would we not pray that the rest of the world would willing come to our aid when they have the resources to do so?
Aid agencies do incredible work to save lives but they can only do as much as their funding affords. While most charities rely on regular giving to fund their ongoing work, at times of crisis, one-off donations can literally be a lifesaver.
Today, I can go and buy a sandwich and a bag of crisps for lunch or I can give that money to a charity that is providing food to the worst affected by the drought induced famine. I’ll enjoy last night’s leftovers and send a text message to Christian Aid that donates £5 to their work in East Africa. So, instead of having a mediocre lunch I can provide two days worth of treatment for five children with severe malnutrition. It’s a no-brainer when I think about it that way but I tend to get caught up in feeling like my little contribution is just a drop in the ocean. But if I encourage five of my friends to do it and we have a leftovers picnic, what then?
Also, I can often feel overwhelmed by the number of charities making desperate appeals. That’s why giving to an organisation like the DEC can take the pressure off. They distribute funds between a number of organisations and allocate where it is most appropriate.
I appreciate that we are not always in a position to give financially. While individual contributions are vital, so is the support of our governments. So, if I’m genuinely unable to donate money, I can still take two minutes to sign a petition that appeals to the government to intervene. It is not about money. My biggest challenge is resisting passivity; hearing the sad stories, feeling sorry for the victims and then carrying on with my day without giving it a second thought.
Later, as I gratefully consume my homemade lunch, I will be praying for the people that my well-spent lunch money is impacting, thousands of miles away. Fellow fridge-foragers welcome.