Famines demand attention on the world stage

We sometimes grow de-sensitized to the hardships others face

Sometimes we folks in North America can become quite insulated from the plight of those in other parts of the world.

Not because we don’t see and hear much of what is going on – thanks to 24-hour news cycles and the plethora of social media avenues to choose from, there is no reason to not be completely up to date on virtually everything that happens across the globe.

But that very well could be part of the problem.

We are often deluged with news, and with such massive exposure can come a bit of desensitization. What else could explain the lack of reaction to certain stories that should really grip our attention?

Currently, there is a severe famine holding many in various African nations in its deadly grip.

Adding to the warning is the UN Refugee Agency, which points out that more than 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are experiencing famine or are at risk.

“Consecutive harvests have failed, conflict in South Sudan coupled with drought is leading to famine and outflows of refugees, insecurity in Somalia is leading to rising internal displacement and rates of malnutrition are high, especially among children and lactating mothers.”

The Salvation Army is also onboard with lending a hand, as are many other agencies and organizations.

According to the Army, “The United Nations is calling this the largest humanitarian crisis since 1945 and reports that more people face famine today than at any time in modern history.

“The initiative has a simple message: food is more than a human right; it is a divine gift that cannot be impeded.”

World leader of The Salvation Army, General André Cox, is mindful of the ‘staggering proportions’ of the unfolding disaster. According to the Army’s web site, he calls on Salvationists and friends to respond, “Through our actions, not just our words,” saying, “We might feel a sense of powerlessness by a pending disaster of this magnitude and yet our faith in God should drive us to more than thoughts of compassion.”

The Red Cross is also on the frontlines in affected regions helping where they can.

According to their web site, “Moving forward, we have three priorities – reach, response, resilience: delivering relief in hard-to-reach and underserviced areas so that people are not left behind.

“(Having a) community-based health response to prevent and treat malnutrition and infectious disease outbreaks such as measles, malaria and diarrhoea, and supporting Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers and staff working with local people to build community resilience through programs that restore dignity, strengthen food security and support long-term development, such as cash, livelihoods and water, sanitation and hygiene.”

The bottom line is this – we can all give – even if it’s just a little.

Too often, the overwhelming scale of a given crisis freezes people into inaction. The problem is too big – what can I really do?

But the truth is, we can all do plenty. And there is nothing quite like the sense of joy that flows from giving. It’s a simple but profound truth.

And by joining forces with any number of humanitarian organizations, everyone’s contributions can become a force to make a tremendous difference. This summer, let’s remember that even though many are experiencing tough times at home and certainly deserve our help, it doesn’t mean we can’t lend a hand to someone in a faraway country hoping for a better day as well.