30 Day Challenge
Day#5. Weskus. Today, I’m missing my roots and in unusually contemplative mood. Unlike Isak Dinesen, I don’t have a farm in Africa, but I do have a patch of land that keeps me tied to a fabulous spot on a great continent. In the ups and downs of the last 10 years, I have been close to having to sell it many times, but somehow it stayed with me because I could not let it go. It was mine, wholly and truly. This year, although I don’t need to sell it, I will – with a smidgeon of reluctance and a dash of bitter-sweet sadness. I am saying goodbye to my little piece of the West Coast so that someone else can realise their dreams by buying my plot. I promise to visit there one more time before I do.
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: