Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Not Alone... but Overwhelmed

Removing the bright blue wrapper from yesterday's New York Times, I saw the image of a starving child in Somalia. I'm thankful for the Times for printing this front page story to raise awareness about the famine, but it's hard to start the morning with tears and, reading the article about the insurgents blocking aid programs from providing food and water, a feeling of total helplessness.

And then to my job, where I'm surfing food blogs to find chefs for a reality show. The paradox of photos of the morning's photo of a child dying from malnutrition juxtaposed with gorgeous photos of specialty dishes is not lost on me. I just had a conversation with a friend from Holland, talking about the sickness of greed that has infected the first world, and particularly the U.S. To have SO much wealth concentrated in such small areas, while vast swaths of humanity are suffering, where tens of thousands of Somalis are already dead, and more than 500,000 children are on the brink of dying, is sickness. It's unbearable, and I don't know what to do.

So I went for a walk after work, and via Pandora on my phone, Michael Franti sang to me.

"I'm Not Alone" is not an answer, but it's something that keeps my spirits up, and keeps me asking how. How can we actively show others that they are not alone? How can we change the course of history, NOW? How can we get food to these starving children, NOW. How?

And I'm reminded of the work Amani is doing in the Congo, reminded that these women and children and families are not alone — that good work is being done.

From Nabirugu*, one of the women in the sewing collective that is supported by your donations.

"My name is Nabirugu*. I am 21 years old. I have no father. I joined the ABFEK centre 10 months ago and today I am ready to go and start my own sewing workshop based on the skills I have [learned]. Today I am able to measure,cut fabrics and join them. I can now make dresses, skirts, a pair of shorts, pants, and blouses. Isn’t this progress? I learned to use sewing equipments in this centre, before that time I had never used a pair of scissors to cut fabrics or a tape measure. I am very proud of my training in this centre. Now I have hope and confidence. I hope for success in my life. If I succeed to get my own sewing machine, I can start a small business such as making school pupils uniforms,make [outfits] from fabrics when there is a wedding ceremony, make my own clothes without paying as I was doing before. We need to start learning embroidery and then people will not be taking their fabrics to Bukavu if they need embroidery. I am very happy and I thank everyone who has donated his money to provide us with the sewing equipment we are using in this centre."

We're not alone.

Tell Congress to help Somalia NOW.  (Via the International Rescue Committee)

(*Names are changed to protect the identity of women in the workshops.)

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