Last night I climbed into my comfortable, warm bed and turned on the TV to catch up on a bit of news at the end of a busy day. I was just in time to catch this report on Newsnight (you can see it 12 min into the programme) about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. I had no idea about the suffering that is going on in that country. It is now so bad that half the population, or 10 million people, do not have access to sufficient food and 47% of children are malnourished. When I say ‘malnourished’ I am talking about children who are struggling to breathe because their organs are failing, they do not have an ounce of fat on their bodies and they are barely conscious. I didn’t know whether to cry, scream or throw something at the TV. Images of mothers holding their children in despair, literally watching them fade away, resigning themselves to the devastation that their children will likely die in their arms. I could feel the rage against such injustice just welling up inside of me. What really made my stomach turn was that these same mothers must walk past fruit and vegetable sellers whose tables brim with produce; the reason so many are starving is that they are simply unable to afford the high food prices.
At that moment I must admit I felt a bit disgusted with society. I thought about looking for a synonym for ‘disgusted’ so that I didn’t come across bitter but, let’s be honest, 10 million people are starving to death and I continue to spend money on nice clothes and accessories, food that I may end up throwing away and other luxuries. I will always find ways of justifying my way of life but if I really think about it there is no logic in letting people die while I continue as if I am the only person who matters.
So, I did a bit more research on the situation in Yemen and I found this article, published yesterday, saying that Oxfam have had to reduce work in Yemen due to lack of funding. This is outrageous. What if it were my family starving? Would I still just keep on living my happy-go-lucky life? In a global community such as we exist these are my brothers and sisters and I can’t just sit back and watch them suffer. Their harvests have failed through no fault of their own and without organisations such as Oxfam thousands of people will die. Simple as that. It is not someone else’s problem, as we would all like to think.
On any given week I buy a number of things that are non-essentials. Realistically, this is often going to be the case but the least I can do is take a few moments each week to think about what I can do without. I have set a reminder in my rememberthemilk online to-do list to send me an email each Monday asking me, ‘What can I do without this week?’ Whatever I decide, that money will go toward saving the lives of others; whether it is £1, £5 or £20. In this way, eradicating from my life some of the things I can live without, means that others live. This week I can do without fresh flowers and my weekly treat of a sandwich from the bakery down the road. It is the very least I can do for those who need my help in Yemen. Taking two minutes to reassess my habits each week could literally save a life.