Monday, March 28, 2011

Like an earthquake every day - Child hunger

The outpouring of support that has emerged since the earthquake in Japan is heartwarming. Just the other day, I was in World Market and saw that they were donating proceeds from their Japanese goods (which they had put in the front of the store) to the situation in Japan. Every Sony Playstation 3 now has a "Donate to Japan" icon that appears when the device is turned on, and there are many more examples of this. It's a great sign of the innate compassion within us that arises for people suffering in times of disaster.

Although I have friends and family in Japan, about whom I'm very concerned, it's also important to keep in mind that every day children around the world are suffering from the equivalent of several earthquakes and tsunamis, and yet receive hardly any attention. Somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 children die every day from starvation and easily preventable diseases. I first learned this shocking fact from a book by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Here's a quote from UNICEF's 2000 progress report, entitled "A Spotty Record":

"The continuation of this suffering and loss of life contravenes the natural human instinct to help in times of disaster. Imagine the horror of the world if a major earthquake were to occur and people stood by and watched without assisting the survivors! Yet every day, the equivalent of a major earthquake killing over 30,000 young children occurs to a disturbingly muted response. They die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death."

Researchers talk about "empathy burnout," and it's certainly true that at first glance we might want to turn away from this horrifying reality, thinking that it's too big for us to take in, or that there's nothing we can do. After all, that is 11 million children each year dying unnecessarily. But if 11 million people around the world each took responsibility for one child (at a cost that might only be about $100 per year), the tragedy might be ended, or at least very significantly reduced. If each person took responsibility for a few children, maybe you'd only need 2 or 3 million.

Seeing the response to the situation in Japan, and the earlier response for the situation in Haiti, I do not at all believe that people simply do not care about these children. I think the problem is rather that too few people know about the situation. Definitely we need to spread the word, so that people can support the many organizations that are trying to feed and take care of these children.

Here are links to a few I know of. Let me know if you know of others that are good:



Stop Hunger Now

Children's Hunger Fund

No comments:

Post a Comment