There is an old saying which states that “If ignorance be bliss, tis folly to be wise.” But how then can one be made aware of the poverty and suffering that exists around the world? In Singapore, the majority of the people are doing fine, they have at least all the basic necessities if not more. We have not yet experienced any natural disasters, so does that make us safe from such tragedies? People often forget that we also have limited natural resources, hence insufficient to sustain the population should some form of tragedy occur.
We live in a world that if you are free from poverty, you tend to become oblivious to it. We choose the television programmes or movies we want to watch to entertain and keep us happy and would often skip those that would remind us of the injustices,poverty and violence that goes on in the rest of the world.
Some people feel they do their part when they just contribute say 50 cents into one of those donation cans on weekends and though a little goes a long way, is it really enough? They are clueless of just how much suffering actually goes on. Some may even think that enough is enough and they should stop their contributions! Afterall there are so many donation drives going on that they probably have more than enough already, besides did they think everyone were printing money? Who or what can be said to convince these people that every little bit counts, and if they can afford a little more then please by all means it would really help.
For instance, children of Thoung Xuan in vietnam have to walk barefoot for miles on hot, burning grounds, or muddy and wet roads. Their tiny feet are subject to cuts and scarring and it has caused diseases such as hookworms or other parasites that eat into the soles of their feet. Can you imagine the joy and happiness that a simple contribution of 10,000 pairs of Crocs shoes brought them? Some were just so happy that they could make their way back to school without suffering pain!
What about the food shortages worldwide? Apart from droughts and natural disasters which contributes to famine, what about soil compaction and degradation through man’s carelessness? But whatever the causes, families around the world are suffering.
In Zambia a three year old orphan has been surviving on just liquids made from musika fruit for the past three months. Others such as a woman and her eleven children are suffereing a fate that is even more destitute. Their food source for the past few months is “rafu” weeds which they boil and drink as soup, to them it is better than not eating at all. As a result a four year old suffers from marasmus, a severe protein-energy malnutrition that leads to extensive tissue and and muscle wasting, reducing one’s body weight by 80% of it’s normal weight.
In other parts of the world, due to gender inequality and as a result of food shortage, young girls are even sold off to ease the family debts and to pay for food and household expenses. Both young boys and girls are at risk of being put to work in order to suupport the family.
In the wake of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar the world food crisis had worsened as experts estimate that some 2000 square miles of prime farmland is now under water devastating rice production. Apart from that, what broke my heart further was to hear some of the stories of personal tragedies that some of the victims experienced. One man put his pregnant wife and his brother on his fishing boat to push them to safety only to see the boat smashed against a tree, split into two and sink to the bottom a few seconds later. The frantic search for loved ones around the time, with many trying to revive those found dead, unwilling to accept that they were lost for ever. Or the mother who had lost her three children aged ten, nine and her one year old baby. She buried her face in her hands as she told of how as one big wave hit her and she dropped her baby from her arms. “It took just a split second,” she said. “I tried immediately to search in the waters around me but my baby was gone.”
There are many unsung heroes in the world whose humanitarian efforts have brought much relief and comfort to those suffering around the world. If we cannot be one of these heroes, then let us at least try to contribute what we can, so that these heroes can continue to be the light at the end of a dark tunnel.