One born every minute…

I’m really beginning to think I live in a time-warp.  Watching the news, I couldn’t help thinking of events some 20 years ago. A corporate scandal involving a newspaper magnate whose surname also began with M, rioting in Northern Ireland and kwashiorkor babies.  Sometimes the more the world turns, the more it remains the same.

It’s heartbreakingly sad to see infants and children arrive at the refuge camps across the horn of Africa – only to die of malnutrition when they get there. It’s heartbreakingly sad to see not one or two children in this predicament, but five or six per family. These small creatures cannot speak for or defend themselves.  Their mothers are no better off.  Illiterate, poor, often victims of rape – for these oppressed women, family planning is not an option. The loss of one child is unbearable, the loss of two or three, when this could be avoided….

It’s a complex situation, and I don’t claim to have the answers.  Still, I can’t help wondering if our charitable contributions are merely adding to a culture of dependency in an environment where climate change and civil war have wreaked havoc.  If there is money to fund the warlords in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, why isn’t there enough to provide irrigation schemes or green energy? 

Instead of food aid, would our money would be better served funding education and contraception programmes for the women and children in such peril?  Though laudable, the charity cartels (think Oxfam, Unicef and Save the Children) have sewn up crisis response in sub-saharan Africa.  There is money to be made from suffering.  And if you think I’m being harsh, just check out the profit and loss accounts of these organisations. They have turnover and assets worth millions! Charity doesn’t even begin to describe it.

 I’m undecided whether I will donate to the latest DEC appeal. Are we are simply trying to hold back the flood by putting our fingers in the dyke? Or can our donations truly make a difference? The Dalai Lama said, ‘compassion and love are essential if we are to save humanity’. From a human perspective, it feels like the right thing to do.

You can find out more about famine relief and DEC by clicking here:

1 thought on “One born every minute…”

  1. This ambivalence is very understandable.To find the best way to help, would it help to cast our minds back 500 years rather than 20? Then, Britain was emerging from the dark and middle ages. The thousand years of history prior to the Renaissance was characterised by feudalism. Were the hardships and abject poverty that existed in feudal society so different from what we see in many parts of the world today?More to the point, what brought about the end of feudalism and change in the lot of the peasants? Is there both a swift and non violent way to end such suffering? How much of the change in this country was due to the Renaissance (which lasted 300 years)? Did the Civl War do it? Not immediately. What about the restoration of the monarchy or the replacement of the Catholic James II with the Protestant William and Mary? Did the Enlightenment help? Or was it the industrial revolution that finally gave the peasants some power to improve their lot through collective action? In places like Russia, China and Vietnam the communists mobilised the peasants without the industrial clout. But they didn’t achieve major change without a fight. What happened in each country after their revolutions was very different. I’m sure we would not wish the experience of the first two upon the people currently experiencing warlord feudalism.Harsh as it may seem, alleviating the pain of those who are the victims of feudalism may actually prolong their suffering, by reducing the incentive to overthrow the warlords. That pain is the burning platform that may bring about change. But, when it comes, will the change be more like what happened in Europe, through communist revolution, the Arab Spring or the magnificent seven?

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