Thanks to the shout out from Free Wheelchair Mission on my recent blog post at With My Own Eyes!
Yesterday I met with the director of a large nonprofit in Guatemala. Mario astounded me not only with his humility, but with his unwavering hope for the people of Guatemala.
The facts are dismal–one of every two people in Guatemala lives in poverty. Half the population.
But Mario believes that the renewed efforts of regular people like you and me can make a real difference. He believes that everything his team does, everything that anyone does for his people has a special purpose. Then, not to diminish the hard work of each individual, he says firmly that “we are just a piece of the puzzle.” Mario believes that it’s time to “step back” and look at the larger picture.
Part of that is by acknowledging each others’ work and finding a way to work together. Mario has helped establish a consortium of nonprofits in Guatemala, all who have different projects and different specialties in varying locations. By working together, they can enhance their impact, rather than work in competition and derail advancement.
It isn’t a new idea by any means, but it means getting over our pride and learning to live in unity as we strive toward a common goal.
“The US Government’s Famine Early Warning Network issued a series of special alerts in June calling it ‘the most severe food security emergency in the world today…’” – The Lancet
Africa is desperately hurting right now, and it aches to know that and yet not be able to fix it. The food crisis is causing families to go without a single meal for days. Children are starving to death. Many are fleeing the drought-stricken areas to find relief in neighboring nations.
UN officials are reporting that more than 50% of the Somali children that are arriving in Ethiopia are malnourished. And untold others are dying on the way to the camps or shortly after arriving. Even special nutritional foods given to children in relief camps are not enough to save their lives. The situation is dire.
And while food aid and nutritional meals are a must to save these lives. The problem rests far deeper than any of that. Those living in areas like central Somalia have little or no access to the things that make western farming so successful–things like fertilizer and irrigation, not to mention tools, training, and transportation to market.
Although feeding programs and relief distributions are crucial to the moment–community development is crucial to the future.
Support for organizations like Plant with Purpose will help turn around the food security crisis in nations like Somalia and Niger.
As I was reading an article on TIME.com today, it struck me how easy it is to forget.
Sure, I spend all day working on nonprofit media. I know the tragedies that are hitting the world. I deal with it day in and day out. I feel the pain, do what I can to help, and then I go home. I play with my dog. I water the garden. I eat dinner. I read a book. I do all the things I do. And I forget.
Here is southeast Virginia, we have only had a good rain once in the last 3 weeks, and at that it was far too short. My garden would be desperately struggling if we didn’t water it twice every day. My husband takes the morning shift, I do the evening. And the vegetable plants are still green and growing. But I grumble and complain about the time it takes to water it every day.
Then I read this article in TIME. “Much of the nation [Somalia] hasn’t seen rain since November, and some 55,000 people have already had to leave their homes this year — literally in search of greener pastures.”
No rain since November? Months of drought? But it gets worse.
The article explains that this isn’t just a 7-month drought; this is a 36-year drought. It has brought the nation tumbling into an unstable state where pirates and terrorists thrive and ordinary people are paying exuberant prices for food staples.
I look at my healthy, lush vegetable garden thinking of all the yummy food it will yield, thinking of the money I will save, and I realize that I am not so bad off after all. In fact, I have well-water, so I’m not even paying anything to water the garden twice every day. And more than that–I actually have access to water! I’m not being forced to flee in search of fertile ground, I’m not in danger from terrorists taking up residence, my government isn’t hanging on by a thread.
Now, if I can just remember that when I go home this evening…