It sat there, staring at me. The letter came in the post and was deposited on our dining table by Boyo. I wanted to pretend it wasn't there. "If I ignore it, will it just go away?" But there it was, still sitting there, unopened inthe morning. I just wanted to carry on with my day. Pretend nothing was different. Eat my porridge, go for a walk, maybe get a hot drink with a friend before our beach outing this afternoon. But I couldn't. There's something compelling me to do differently. The letter? Maybe. But this was, after all, just one letter. I get lots of letters like this, requests for help from one organisation or another. And they all, invariably, drive me to tears. Hence my desire to hermit, avoid, and otherwise ignore whatever crisis World Vision wanted to draw my attention to this time.I opened it. I just couldn't handle it sitting there any longer. And I've been guilty of throwing out a few without reading them lately...terrible guilty feelings are not changed by reading or not reading, I have discovered. I'd hoped that if I didn't read, I couldn't be confronted with the realities of how much I have and how little they have. But I still know. Deep in my heart of hearts I know that there are people in desperate need, and despite how 'poor' I sometimes feel, I am not desperate. I am by no means anywhere near desperate. I have cash for fruit and vegetables this week. We have money in the bank for next month's expenses, mostly...and we are still able to cull things back a bit more if we really have need to. We are by no means desperate.
So I read the letter. And cried (per usual). And felt compelled to DO SOMETHING. What though, was the question. There are 1.3MILLON Ugandan's facing starvation. These are not people just needing a top up. These are people who will die without outside help. Their last viable harvest was in 2005. That's SIX YEARS ago! I can't begin to imagine what it would be like if we'd not had good harvests for six years in New Zealand. What on earth would we eat? Well, in Uganda, they are eating pumpkin leaves, and not much else. World Vision tells of one young woman walking 25km to sell an armful of firewood to buy food for her and her two young children...food which is not nearly enough. Again, I can't imagine having to travel those kind of distances, and face the grief of not having food for my son.
I sat and read, and suddenly didn't feel very hungry. My porridge sat, turning cold and gelatinous (I did have to eat it later, couldn't bear the thought of wasting it when other people were going hungry!). I knew that if I didn't do something right away, I'd most likely manage to talk myself out of it. "We just don't have much available right now." I'd say. Or, "Munchkin needs clothes." "Maybe next month." "When we're both qualified and earning decently, I'll be able to give lots then." The problem is that in the five years or so it takes us to improve our household finances, it will probably be too late for many of the children of Uganda.
I made a list on the back of the World Vision envelope. It is titled "Action:"
I can FREE RICE! Each correct word I get gives 10 grains of rice through advertising sponsorship. I decided I'll spend 30 minutes today, answering vocabulary. I've already done 1600 grains! This doesn't cost me money, just time. I figured that I should be able to spend a few minutes to save someone else's life.