By: Bree Bailey | Contributor
We have all heard our moms say, "Don't waste your food; there's a child starving in Africa" and felt the tears sting our eyes after watching a video about hungry orphans. The numbers which seem to be followed by never ending zeroes overwhelm us, and we give up hope in ever being able to make a change. What if, rather than avoiding the issue and the depressing thoughts paired with it, we face it head on and learned the real factors behind the hunger in East Africa.
This very moment in the countries of Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Kenya, millions are facing ravaging famine and drought. These paired with chronic impoverishment and conflict, result in malnutrition spreading like a highly contagious disease. If near death from starvation is not bad enough, the people of Yemen are facing a dangerous and rapidly spreading outbreak of cholera.
Imagine being the parent of four kids in Yemen, and you suspect one of them contracted cholera. Due to your lack of finances, you must choose between watching your own child wither in the clutches of this disease or allowing your three other children to waste away from starvation. These type of life or death decisions are made daily in this country as people fight to stay alive. 41% of all cholera deaths are found in Africa, summing to around 600 deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) website.
New ways are being pioneered which are proving more effective in truly uprooting this problem. For example, Jeff and Heidi Reed from Indiana educated locals in East Africa on improved farming techniques and nutritious crops naturally growing there. The organization Oxfam is currently working to fight emergency situations in East Africa and saving thousands through importing clean water and food as well as educating the locals on proper sanitation practices.
It is easy to simply donate to missionaries and big organizations, then move on with your life. However, without social workers, lawyers, artists and doctors-poverty and hunger plaguing East Africa will continue to devour innocent lives.
Organizations such as World Vision, Heifer International and Feeding America are ceaselessly on the lookout for volunteers and professionals willing to join the battle. Whether that is through fundraising, brainstorming, event planning or even taking knowledge to Africa, all skills are needed. Simply searching the names of any of these previously listed will connect you with all the needed information to join the fight. The change begins when we stop viewing starvation as a part of life and begin viewing it as an injustice that we must face head on.