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Friday, August 5, 2011

Of Famine and Heartbreak

Watching the pictures on the news of what is going on in Somalia I am often brought to tears.  And watching this news, these starving children and refugees huddled together to tired and weak to cry reminded me that I have almost always been a food activist.

As an elementary school child I collected cans and bottles for the nickel deposit to raise money to send to Ethiopia.  I even got some of my friends involved and got my Dad to let me use a lot of the space in the garage to store the empties.  I was so moved by their plight that I had to do something.  I really felt called.

And there have been famines since then, they move me as well.  I teach about famine when my ethics classes cover poverty.  I remind them that it doesn't matter which famine the author is talking about, it doesn't make the article out of date, there will be other famines and the arguments still hold.  I hope they prompt some to act.

I often have to turn away when the news is on and there is famine.  Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winning economist and development scholar was right when he said that pictures on the news of children actually starving to death is horrible and has kept there from being a real famine in some places.  He wrote this when talking about his native country, India, and how they have not had a real famine in the modern age, but that malnutrition still plagues the nation.  It plagues many others as well.  But the actually starving is more likely to move us to action.

And while malnutrition is a real problem to be solved be it due to a lack of food overall or a lack of access to nutritious food, starvation must be dealt with first.  Consider donating to a charitable organization working in East Africa right now.  Choose which one you think is reputable and will do the most good with your money, but try not to sit idly by.

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