I am haunted these days, by what I read and see, by what is going on in the Horn of Africa. So much so that it seeps into my everyday, that so many moments are seen with the hum of these images. The one that has sent a crack down the whole of me comes at minute 2:55-3:03 in the above video.
I think it's because he's six months old--nearly the same age as Maya. They could have been born in the same month. They could have switched places; we have nothing to do with the circumstances we are born into.
It could be us, one day, if our own country beat against itself, bullied itself into a civil war and families had to flee from fertile land to safety. Safety from man-made destruction, that is--the fleeing leads to environmental instability. It could be us, our land could dry up from five years without rain. Parts of our own country are already suffering from this blue-sky persistence, this wet-earth lack.
Perhaps my ache is because I recognize the movement of that jaw. That rhythmic up-and-down, that pump of tongue, that's something I know as I've known my own breathing these past few seasons. So much of me cries out when I see that little boy drinking and I want to know if his mother is right, if he is gone now too, like too many other children in that region.
I think of how people say: People are starving in Africa. Because they want to cajole their children to finish their vegetables. I think of how I'll never say that again.
And there's this video too, paired with an article I read in the newspaper: "We met women and children who walked for weeks, often barefoot and with nothing but the clothes on their backs, desperate to find food and medical care. We heard the story of one mother who was too weak to carry both of her children, and made the wrenching choice to leave behind one behind in hopes of saving the other. We learned of families who had arrived too late whose children became part of a devastating statistic: In the past three months alone, 29,000 children younger than 5 have died of starvation."
The scope of this has put me in a place I cannot think my way out of.
I have this odd frustration--my milk is bountiful, but I cannot donate it locally (medication). I wish I could soar over the ocean, feed my daughter, then feed others.
I can nourish my daughter. Beyond that familiarity of an infant consuming is the luck of capacity. I read this blog post on Oxfam, and I think of the deep pleasure I have gotten from being able to feed Maya. My body has proved itself less-than-ideal, has given qualms in the journey to motherhood and continues to edge me out, but the one thing I have found my body can do is keep Maya healthy. This gift, this right has been taken away from these mothers.
I feel crushed; I feel blessed.
There are ways you can help. Donate. Raise awareness. Little things, like daily clicks on the hunger site or playing knowledge games on free rice or taking an awareness quiz. Sponsors donate in your stead. I've been giving gifts that relate in some way--such as bottles of Sadia's sauce, which supports a local Somali woman (who is then donating 10% of her proceeds to relief efforts). Heifer International is another fun way to give a gift--you can purchase a whole animal or a share of one that is given to children and families to help them become to be self-reliant. Shop fair trade. And be aware, be kind, be thankful for your own life and the lives of those you love. I know I am.