I don’t have anything for you to eat.
I’m stating this because I usually do offer up something for you to try in your kitchen, and this post won’t be providing that. But I am also trying to get into a relationship with that statement as one that mothers all over the world have to say to their children. Not the kind of relationship where I reflexively recoil from imagining what it must feel like to have nothing to feed your family, and then I say that I can’t imagine it.
The kind where I try to really do it.
Famine is about to be declared in Nigeria. I wish I could say that I know this because the media is doing a bang-up job reporting it, but I know it because my niece, who has had a lifelong engagement with advocacy for Africa (raising her voice for the people of Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda since she was in grade school) is now working for an aid organization in Washington and has seen the reports.
We all should be seeing these reports. Social media should be lighting up with it. Could we make that happen?
Famine is not something that is declared lightly. Famine means, in this case, that close to 200 children are dying every day, and the number is likely to only go up.
Hunger is a big issue all over the globe. It’s definitely a domestic issue—some sources say upwards of 16 million American children face regular food insecurity, and close to 50 million adults. Meaning that on a regular basis, here in the fattest country on earth, very many people don’t have enough to eat. Then there is the skewering statistic that about a third of the food that is produced in the world (and it’s closer to 40% here at home) ends up in the trash instead of someone’s hungry belly. It’s hard to comprehend what kind of reality these statistics produce for actual people, and to appreciate what each of us can do to move the needle. If you add in climate change and corporate greed and election crap and the violence and oppression and natural disasters swirling around the planet and through our news feeds, it’s pretty easy to get frozen in place.
Famine is different from hunger, though. That bears mentioning.
At the present rate, a whole generation of children could vanish. Children under 5 are the most susceptible to this kind of crisis. I'm hanging in there, trying to imagine instead of saying that I can't.
This is a man-made event, meaning it’s not crop or climate but bad actors who have brought this into being, and it’s also humans who can help to turn the tide.
Today has been declared a day of action to bring awareness to this reality. In addition to the other hullabaloo that will be taking place next week here in the USA, Congress will be voting on a number of International Aid bills next week that could have a significant impact on this crisis.
If you have a few minutes to spare today, here is a list of things you can do:
- You can sign this petition and you can sign this one, too.
- You can use the hashtags: #fightthefamine and #feedherchildren when calling others to action on social media.
- You can call the Capitol Switchboard at 202. 224.3121 and ask your Senator and Representative to support at least $1.6 billion for Food for Peace and $2.8 billion for the International Disaster Assistance Account, plus an additional $100 million in emergency funds within the FY 2017 appropriations bills to ensure the U.S. government can appropriately respond to the crisis. (You can use this form to report on their response to your call.)
- You can donate to Mercy Corps, The International Rescue Fund or Doctors Without Borders, all of whom are on the ground in Nigeria.
- You can read more about this crisis here and here, and in the tender hands of people like this.