Friday, October 30, 2009

Starting with those around you...

Today's challenge: how can you make a difference in someone's life?
And I do not necessarily mean in the developing world.
I mean right where you are. today.
All around you there are people in need.
People who feel alone. rejected. hurt. afraid. worn out.
People in need of a hug. a smile. a listening ear.
Those in need of a friend. a family member.
Maybe a box of chocolates. some flowers. or an encouraging note.
Reach out to someone near you today.
And make a difference.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


H1N1. H1N1. H1N1.
It’s all over the news.
A hot topic.
Is it because of the numbers of people dying as a result?
Is it because it causes a potential global threat?
Or is it because it is a disease causing ‘havoc’ in the West?

I understand, being sick with H1N1 or the ‘normal’ flu is not nice.
I know it causes more work for those taking care of the infected.
Naturally my heart goes out to those who have lost family members.
And yes, I am happy that I have not been affected by it.
But, my life does not revolve around it.
I find myself wondering how it’s captured yet another headline.
Is it the most important disease we’re battling in this world today?

I suppose whether or not it is top priority is a matter of perspective.
Is your perspective from one of the countries in the top of the human development index?
A country where you are not faced with death on your doorstep everyday?
A place in which political gain is so important you must continue debating over such issues?
Or are you from a country at the bottom of the list?
A place where other issues are much more demanding?
Issues like malaria and the need for basic childhood vaccinations.

Every 30 seconds, malaria takes the life of another child.
Yearly it brings death to 1 million people.
A disease that is preventable and curable yet takes the toll of so many.
What are politicians doing about this?
And what about the 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world?
10 million people dying of hunger and hunger-related diseases.
But who cares?

In the West we are quick to find solutions to our own problems.
Some use these problems for political gain, world power and fame.
But what about the problems in the developing world?
Do they not matter?
What about the people born into a world of poverty?
People without a voice in this world.
Where is the justice?

If their issues would enter ‘our world’ we would be quick to act.
Every bed would have a mosquito net.
Every fever would be properly checked out.
Access to doctors and drugs would be scaled up.
After all, wasn’t malaria once an issue in the West?
Yes, it is their problem and they need to step up to the plate too.
But couldn’t we be doing more to assist them.

I am not trying to say that no attention should be paid to H1N1.
It does have the potential to become a bigger problem.
It is real and maybe vaccines will help prevent further spread.
But the much bigger problems are out there too.
And I want to see more of that in the headlines.
I want our world leaders to look seriously at the impact they can have in the developing world.
What I want is social justice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

World Food Week...

World Food Day is held on 16 October each year, remembering the day in 1945 when the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was set up. The day is used throughout the world to raise awareness about those living in hunger all over the world.

With an estimated increase of 105 million hungry people in 2009, there are now 1.02 billion malnourished people in the world, meaning that almost one sixth of all humanity is suffering from hunger.

The first Millenium Development Goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. That means halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger over a 25 year period. With only 6 years to go, the figures are still astonishing.

  • 10 million people still die every year of hunger and hunger-related diseases.
  • According to the UN, rising food prices may push 100 million people deeper into poverty.
  • And although fewer children below five are undernourished, malnutrition still accounts for about one third of childhood deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Let us reflect on these numbers and the suffering behind them. The FAO states that they have the know-how to do something about hunger and the ability to find money to solve problems when considered important. Let’s make sure this recognized as a big problem. There is a World Summit on Food Security proposed by FAO for November. Let’s hope that our world leaders come up with good solutions. And in the meantime, let’s do what we can…

“There is enough food grown in the world for everyone. And yet we remain stuck in a food crisis. Half the world’s food is lost as waste and a billion people – one in every six of the world’s poorest – cannot access enough of the other half and so go hungry every day.” – Oxfam

Monday, October 19, 2009

Psalm 23...

Lord, you are my shepherd. I have everything I need.
You let me rest in green meadows, you lead me beside quiet streams.
You give me new strength everyday.
You guide me in the right direction, bringing honor to Your name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid because You are with me.
Your rod and your staff make me feel safe and secure.
You prepare a meal for me right in front of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.
I am overflowing with blessing.
I know that your goodness and love will pursue me every day of my life.
And I will live in Your house forever.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The doctor is out...

This morning I went to the doctor’s office.
As I entered, the assistant informed me that the doctor was not in.
He was called out to an emergency.
He would be back soon, but would be running behind schedule.
I was told there were 3 people waiting before me.
My response: “no problem”.

As I sat there it was interesting to hear other responses.
One lady looked at it from the view point of being the one in urgent need.
And said she would be thankful too if the doctor would attend to her right away.
Another lady was in a hurry and could not wait.
She would make a new appointment.
Someone else grumbled a bit before sitting down.

My thoughts drifted to Sierra Leone.
There, people are thrilled if they can get to a doctor’s office.
In Holland we take easy access to medical care for granted.
Everyone has a family practitioner they can go to.
It’s only a matter of calling up and making an appointment.
And even today, with the ‘extra long wait’ I was only there for an hour total.

If only people knew what it was like in Sierra Leone.
A country with 168 physicians for a population of 6 million.
Compared to Holland with 60,519 physicians for a population of 16 million.
Fathers and mothers lined up in front of clinic gates by 5 in the morning.
Waiting rooms full by 8 am with 50+ children sitting around till late in the day.
Families who get sent away without help due to lack of resources/staff.

As I sat there thinking, I realized how privileged I am.
And hoped that others too, would realize how fortunate they are.
Fortunate to have access to health care, education, water, and so much more.
It’s true, we cannot choose where we are born; in wealth or poverty.
But we can choose how we live in this world.
Let us choose to be satisfied and reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves.

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~