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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.

5 comments:

Kelly said...

There is no shortage of horrible African realities. One I remember is something like every 15 seconds a child dies because of lack of access to clean water. I remember doing an excercise with Grade 7 students where we all were standing and then every 15 seconds one would sit down (representing their death). It didn't take too long for our whole classroom to be dead.

Yet in the midst of such chaos there is always hope. While death might be so immediate, one single dollar will go far enough to provide one African child with water for a year. This doesn't just provide nourishment but it allows for example for him or her to wash hands and prevent disease. I remember that as a class we raised $450 which more likely means that the money was put to producing a water source that will last far longer than a year, and affect far more people than 450. Not bad for Grade 7 students. Everybody can do something, and when you get you're child, no matter what s/he comes to you as, just consider the difference it will make.

Colleen said...

Hi Kelly, your grade 7 students did great to raise so much! Too bad more classes didn't do that. I think you're right in that there is always hope. I guess we can't look at helping in in terms of comparison because then it would almost seem like what's the point of doing anything at all? What's the point of helping one person when there are millions suffering. But I guess there is every reason.
Thanks for what you wrote.

Kate said...

Hi there....... we just finished with our foster child, after many many years and are now in the search for another agency...... thinking World Vision, but there is a Catholic one we are checking out, too. I never thought of Ethiopia before, but maybe we could ask for a child from there?? If every couple took one child and helped, there would be much less poverty in the world. Of course, your journey is so much more exciting, and more fullfilling. But we should all help, in what ways we can! Kate

Olga Marie og Jan Henrik said...

åisj...tears in my eyes...
no matter what history the child or children is/are carrying I`m sure your love will overcome it.

He/she/they will be wanted and loved from the moment you know of them no matter who they are, and love do overcome most problems =)

Hugs to u both =)

mommie2CapitolKing said...

(((HUGS))) Colleen, I hope you get the perfect baby for your family and you will be the perfect family for that baby - and that sooner rather then later.
You will make some child a loving,great and supportive mother! I know it ;)
Glad you have a blog that I can follow ;)
mwah!