Remember when you were a kid, and you didn't want to eat something on your plate, and your parents would say something incredibly annoying like, "You know, you should eat that. There are kids starving in Africa!"? Remember how irritating that was, and how you thought to yourself (silently, because saying it out loud would've been serious trouble), well, then, how about you box this swill up and mail it to them?
Remember how you swore that when you were a parent, you would never, ever say the starving-in-Africa thing to your kid? Because that was just one of the dumbest things you'd ever heard? Remember?
Yeah, me too.
So much for that promise. Let's just say that in recent months, the worst thing that could've ever happened to my kid at mealtime was my having gone to Kenya.
* * * * * * *
When my travel companions and I went to Kenya with ONE.org this past summer, news of the famine in East Africa was just beginning to make international headlines. As I learned about what was going on at the refugee camps in the north of Kenya, where thousands of Somalians were streaming into the country in search of food and aid, my only frame of reference was the Ethiopian famine of the mid-eighties, back when I had just started university.
(An aside: remember Band Aid? And that song with the insipid lyrics, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Man, I loved that song. I totally bought the single -- on vinyl! -- and played it over and over and over again, feeling very pleased with myself that I was helping to fight the famine in Africa. Even though, to be honest, I wasn't exactly sure where Ethiopia was on a map, and only had an intellectual -- as opposed to an emotional -- idea of what a "famine" really was.)
This time, of course -- having now been to East Africa and photographed some of the great faces I met there -- this time, friends, it's personal. In the last three months over 30,000 children have died as a result of the famine in Somalia. That is obscene. And when you consider that the natural disaster of drought doesn't have to lead to deaths of thousands of people, that statistic becomes even more offensive.
And so, to make this point clear, the clever people over at ONE have teamed up with some of the most recognizable faces of our time to make the following video. (Warning: while it's safe for work, you might want to watch this out of earshot of keen little ones, unless you're ready to have a discussion about what that other f-word is all about.)
I love that video.
And so, if you're as stunned as I was by that statistic, please consider going over to ONE.org and signing the petition (no matter where in the world you are) encouraging the US Congress to fully fund Feed the Future, a government organization designed to address the root causes of hunger, and help emerging countries ensure they can have access to and create reliable sources of quality food.
Thanks friends -- I really appreciate this. Because signing that petition is a great way to show we give a ...
... well, you know.