So Much yet Not Enough

Twenty-six years ago, this month, Bob Geldof organized, galvanized and revolutionized the music industry in a way that barreled news of famine in Africa into the hearts – and living rooms – of more than a billion people around the globe. LIVE AID was a phenomenal feat of tenacity, ego, determination and compassion. It helped.

But it didn’t solve the problem. In fact, the problem repeats itself.

I woke this morning unsure what I felt like having for breakfast. I checked the pantry. Checked the fridge. Chose an apple, put it back. Chose oatmeal. Changed my mind. Poured a second cup of coffee instead. I showered, put special conditioner in my hair – after all, it should be used weekly for bounce and shine. I picked up my iTouch and checked my email, played a couple rounds of Angry Birds.  Then I turned on my laptop to see what was going on locally and around the world, to check new status updates and tweets, to see what the weather will be since we’re supposed to hold a  yard sale today – selling our overflow to others willing to part with spare change.

And then I saw this image from The London Evening Post:

Famine has once again claimed the the weakest among us. Children. Babies. Animals. The elderly. Parents cannot provide for their families because they themselves have nothing to give. Severe drought has killed crops and livestock, leaving these people with nothing. And then, to compound the horror, militants prevent aid from reaching them.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released this statement about the situation:

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 20, 2011

The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa and today’s announcement by the United Nations that a famine is underway in parts of Somalia. The United States is the largest bilateral donor of emergency assistance to the eastern Horn of Africa. We have already responded with over $431 million in food and non-food emergency assistance this year alone.

But it is not enough — the need is only expected to increase and more must be done by the United States and the international community. That is why today the United States government is providing an additional $28 million in aid for people in Somalia and for Somali refugees in Kenya.

The eastern Horn of Africa is prone to chronic food insecurity which has been exacerbated by a two-year drought. Crops have dried up, livestock have died, and food prices have been skyrocketing. In Somalia, twenty years without a central government and the relentless terrorism by al-Shabaab against its own people has turned an already severe situation into a dire one that is only expected to get worse. Even so, we remain cautiously optimistic that al-Shabaab will permit unimpeded international assistance in famine struck areas.

The United States — in close coordination with the international community — is working to assist more than 11 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, who are in dire need of assistance. To anticipate growing needs, the United States government has worked with our partners over the last year to pre-position food in the region, increase funding for early warning systems, and strengthen non-food assistance in the feeding, health, water and sanitation sectors. In addition to emergency assistance, this administration’s Feed the Future program is working to break the cycle of hunger once and for all by addressing the root causes of hunger and food insecurity through innovative agricultural advances.

But the United States cannot solve the crisis in the Horn alone. All donors in the international community must commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises.

PRN: 2011/1213


I don’t know how we can help these people and my heart aches because of it. But I know we can be more appreciative – and respectful – for what we have. We have options. Choices. Farmers markets, supermarkets, organic, non-organic. Gluten-free, low sodium, no trans-fats. Food – meat, vegetables, fruit, snacks – by the pound. It’s all much more expensive than it was not too long ago. But it’s there, convenient, safe and plentiful. The least we can do is take only what we need and give to those we know who don’t have.

I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I’m just trying to feel less guilty for having as much as I do while complaining it’s not enough.

18 Responses to So Much yet Not Enough

  • It’s heartbreaking. They have nothing. We have so much and complain about it. I think we, as North Americans, need to consume less and give more. I am donating today. The Canadian government is matching funds from private donors.

    • Consume less and give more – if you think about it, it wouldn’t be hard for us to do. I love that the Canadian government is matching funds – is that for this famine relief another specific organization/charity or…?

  • This breaks my heart as well and I’m going to send this blog out to as many people as I can. We are overwhelmed in the US with everything and we essentially have it all. And those people have nothing. If we can donate along with changing our attitudes the world might be a better place for us all.

    • If we each made one small change that helped others, the world would indeed be a better place. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we need to do, that we forget about those who are suffering. Seeing the image of that baby this morning, just broke my heart. S/he looks resigned to her plight. It’s just so unfair.

  • It’s always important to remember and be thankful for what we have. It is our nature to complain and to be negative. The truth is, though, most of us are blessed. Thanks for reminding me of that. 😀

    • Isn’t if funny how it’s in our nature to complain? I wonder why that is. Maybe it’s just easier than doing something to change our situation or to recognize that our situation could be worse in unimaginable ways. We have a lot to be grateful for.

  • We’ve been discussing this at my house, being thankful for the abundance we have. This post wakes me up further.
    Thanks for sharing it.

    • My pleasure, Sandy. I’m happy to hear others are talking about this. I know the world is aware of what’s happening but… it’s still happening. I wish there were some action we could take that would make a real difference.

  • It is easy to take for granted what we have. There have been terrible things happening in parts of Africa for a long time, and continuing wars have devastated the residents. For instance, we are aware of deaths in Iraq, but how many people know that millions died in the Congo during a recent decade-long war? I am pricked by the pain in these areas, and from such a distance it is hard to know what we can do.

    • I doubt many know what’s happened in the Congo. I have to wonder why the media doesn’t cover horrors like that. How do they choose what to harp on? I wish there were a true real-world news that wasn’t skewed by profits or party but rather relied on getting important information out to everyone – information like mass slaughters due to civil war and/or mass deaths due to starvation. I don’t know what the answer is. I know we’d all like to help. But if we can’t get aid past the militants, what can do? How will we help save those people? Those children? Breaks my heart. I think we need Sir Bob Geldof to gather some classic rockers together and have another go…

  • This was a post I needed to read today. It’s so frustrating to see all the suffering in the world and not be able to help. And then to have see the wealthy of the world fighting over who deserves more money while others starve is just sickening.

    Thanks for reminding me me all need to be grateful for what we have.

  • Oh Debbie. Hugs. I’m right there with you – only too often I shut my eyes and feel helpless rather than do something about it.

    I shall strive to be more mindful. Thanks for the reminder.

    • And sometimes, there’s nothing we can do, which is what makes it worse. The reminder of what’s happening around the world as I nitpick about things in my life both guts and grounds me. Being mindful may be the most we can do.

  • I’ve told my daughter if you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food on your table to be grateful, because there are plenty of people out there who don’t have these things. Thanks for sharing this with us, Debbie. It doesnt hurt to drive the point home.

    • It’s funny how we used to be told to eat everything on our plates because there were people starving in China. The message then may have been a little too vague for children to understand but at it’s heart, it was the same then as you just said here. Be grateful for what you have because there are many – in our own country and around the world – who have so much less. We’re more fortunate than we realize.

  • What a heaartbreaking image! Thank you for sharing this post.

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