Hunger in Africa

It’s quite easy in our media-soaked culture to get a tad desensitized to the pressing needs around us. As much as it matters to be informed, sometimes people sink into a kind of information-overload daze – maybe it’s something of a protective shield – against the barrage of bad news that we are accustomed to learning of each day.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act quickly and do our part to help diminish the suffering. The Canadian Red Cross has recently launched an emergency appeal to help millions of people struck by drought in the horn of Africa.

Little rainfall in the region, which the Red Cross says is actually the worst in some 60 years, has destroyed crops and livestock. Thousands of families have been forced to leave their homes in a desperate search for food and clean water.

Officials also say that more than 11 million people are in urgent need of help. And the situation is expected to get worse. The numbers of refugees from Somalia arriving in Ethiopia has soared over the past several weeks, and it’s estimated that about half of the children arriving in Ethiopia from Somalia are already malnourished.

Somalia is a country that, like many African nations, has known so much pain and civil conflict already. According to the Global Enrichment Foundation, it’s also one of the poorest countries on earth.

An average family of seven lives on only $1.36 per day and more than 40% of the population depends on international aid to simply survive.

Overall, the struggles of Africa can be simply overwhelming to consider. Not that there aren’t hopeful stories, because there are. Some African nations are rising above the scourges of corrupt governments and battles with everything from ongoing civil strife to the past onslaught of AIDS.

But to see people now streaming from one poor region into another in an attempt to simply stay alive is heartbreaking.

It’s times like this when phrases like ‘donor fatigue’ have to be tossed aside. The western world – despite the economic shake-ups and so on we’ve seen lately – is still comparatively and vastly wealthy compared to much of the world.

Thankfully, a number of humanitarian organizations are on the ground working hard to make a difference. Any number could truly use financial support, from the Red Cross and Oxfam Canada to the Salvation Army and World Vision.

We simply have to share with those in need.

All it takes is doing without in some way – and that doesn’t even have to be on an enormous scale – to lend a hand and save someone on the other side of the world who may not see tomorrow because they have nothing to eat.