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Monday, 15 September 2008

Insignificant

Ethiopia.

The land where perhaps even now our future child waits for us.

Last night in my dreams, I saw a brown-eyed, black-haired, chubby cheeked baby boy with lovely, healthy brown skin. I wanted so badly to go to him, every breath in my body seemed to be for this child, my arms ached to reach out to him and I felt I couldn't go another second without picking him up and holding him tightly.  I felt if I did this though, I could never let him go again, that I would rather die than let him go.

A brown-eyed, black-haired, chubby cheeked, smiling child.

The reality could be different.

 The reality could be a skeletal, sickly child with sunken cheeks and vacant eyes who wouldn't let me hold him if his life depended on it. Or a child, like thousands in Ethiopia who have actually seen their parents suffer and die. A child who has experienced trauma. A child who takes months to attach. A child used to starving, who didn't complain when hurt or abused. Or alternately, a child who is used to being loved. A child who knows nothing else but to be cared for but who by the death of a mother or father is left without this and doesn't understand how to cope with the great, gaping emptiness of a world and life without love. A child who cares already for younger siblings like a little mother or father. Who is generous and responsible. A baby. A 5 year old. A laughing child. An angry child. A wounded child. A knowing child. A quiet child. There are so many unknowns.

Some basic facts about Ethiopia for interests sake:

Population: 82,544,840
Capital City: Addis Ababa
Religion: Christian 60.8% (Orthodox 50.6%, Protestant 10.2%), Muslim 32.8%, traditional 4.6%, other 1.8%
Ethnic groups:
Oromo 32.1%, Amara 30.1%, Tigraway 6.2%, Somalie 5.9%, Guragie 4.3%, Sidama 3.5%, Welaita 2.4%, other 15.4%
Language: Amarigna 32.7%, Oromigna 31.6%, Tigrigna 6.1%, Somaligna 6%, Guaragigna 3.5%, Sidamigna 3.5%, Hadiyigna 1.7%, other 14.8%, English (major foreign language taught in schools)
Life expectancy: Between 52 and 54 years.

I recently read staggering statistics in the book (Without You There Is No Me). It is predicted that by 2010 there will be between twenty-five million and fifty million African children who will be left orphans, mostly due to AIDS. One stat (by UNICEF) stated that in Zimbabwe, a child dies of AIDS or is orphaned by it every 20 minutes. Every 20 minutes.

Compared to these unfathomable numbers, I, who have always had enough of everything, who can rush to the fridge for food the moment my stomach rumbles with even the slightest of hunger pangs, who has a warm, roomy house and any material thing I could want, who has never experienced a cross like these little ones are made to bear... well, it feels like my problems become pretty insignificant in comparison.