I suspect that there are more than a few people out there who think I've gone cuckoo. I suppose they might be right. I mean, what person in their right mind voluntarily decides to go on a restricted diet when they have no need to lose weight?! Why on earth would I want to almost starve myself (or at the very least, bore myself silly) by eating such a limited diet for five days. I am obsessive about not being hungry. I hate eating the same food for two meals in a row, never mind five days! Why bother? Because people need it. Because it just might change my life as well as theirs.
I suppose I could just give a few dollars to appease my conscience. Only that's not really how I do things. I like to do things well. I'm one of those annoyingly thorough people. The ones that carefully cross of each item on a list, arrange all the chairs in one VERY straight row, pick up fluff off the couch, get pedantically silly over things like cards having to be folded square...I am pedantic, I am particular, I'm efficient, and I'm passionate. I believe that if you are going to the trouble of doing something, then you darn well better do it well. Heck, sometimes I annoy myself, I'm so thorough! It shouldn't really be a surprise that Live Below the Line is the sort of thing I'd get myself into. After all, this is the girl that headed off to Vanuatu to help build a small retirement building when she was sixteen...managed to get a sprained ankle, and an eye infection. Plus a big dose of gratitude for the life I have been blessed to have (have you tried having a bucket shower lately? Sure makes you glad for hot showers!).
I had an email from the World Food Programme yesterday, which reminded me (yet again!) just why we are doing Live Below the Line. I read it, and felt horrified that anyone has to live this way. Nations in the Horn of Africa are experiencing extreme drought. It is hard to imagine drought severe enough to risk people's survival. I remember drought in the Hawkes Bay when I was in my early teens. The grass turned to crunchy, crumbly brown under foot. Sheep had to be trucked out of the region, sold off by desperate farmers. Water was being tankered into some areas on the fringe of the aquafer (underground river) as the lifeblood of the region started to dry up under us. Temperatures soared. People were desperate: farmers and orchardists alike were in danger of losing their land, their income, their livelihoods. But no one starved. No one went without water, even for a day. We all lived to tell the tale. It wasn't pretty, it did affect our economy and the lives of many individuals in negative ways, but we survived. I don't know if New Zealand has ever had a drought so severe as to wipe out our food supply. Yet this is what is happening in Africa right now. I've copied the email (in its entirety) for you below as I just couldn't work out how to explain it myself. THIS is why I am doing Live Below the Line. These people may not be related to me by blood, but they are my brothers. We are not country-men, but we all share our good Earth. We need to look after one another better. Amy
"Let me tell you about the refugee camp at Dadaab in Kenya that I’ve just visited. Hopefully it’ll give you a sense of how urgently the Horn of Africa needs our support.
Beyond the sprawling camp, parched land stretches for miles – dotted with thorn bushes and, here and there, with the carcasses of starved cattle. Each day, some 1,500 desperate, hungry people stream in from Somalia, fleeing violence and drought. The majority are women and children. Some are too weak to eat when they arrive – others have been lost along the way. But many have a chance at survival. We can reach these families in time – with your help.
Please make a lifesaving donation of $5 or more to our Horn of Africa emergency operation today:
Hunger Emergency in Horn of Africa
Your emergency gift of $5 is urgently needed.
I’ve talked to some of the newly-arrived families at Dadaab. I’ve seen and heard about their suffering, how they have lost their crops and their animals.
Many stories are similar to that of Adan Kulo, who watched his livestock starve to death. “I realized my family would soon follow,” he says. He took his pregnant wife and children on a grueling three-week journey through the desert to Dadaab. They were robbed by bandits; food ran out; one child fell ill and his parents feared for his life.
Within hours of arrival at the camp, Adan received 21 days’ worth of food from the World Food Programme. “Now that we have food,” he says, “I’m looking for a spot where I can build a shelter for my family.”
I know we recently asked you to help feed children in drought-stricken Ethiopia, part of the Horn of Africa. Normally, we wouldn’t ask again but the crisis in the Horn of Africa will only get worse if we don’t respond right now. These families – particularly women and children – need immediate assistance.
Will you make a donation right now? https://www.wfp.org/hornofafrica
I’m often asked, “Why is this hunger crisis so bad?” WFP anticipated the drought. Our preparations have already saved many lives. But high food prices in the region have pushed more families over the edge. And the conflict in Somalia has restricted humanitarian access. "
World Food Programme Email received Tuesday, 19th July, 2011.