Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One Hour's Wage

As I write this, I am sipping an iced coffee and charging my iPad off the computer I am typing at.

As I write this, the air conditioning in my office is making me comfortable, and my well-watered houseplants are stretching toward the sunlight streaming in my office.

As I write this, my sons are playing and laughing, stopping occasionally to fight over a toy.  Both are healthy, vibrant little boys, enjoying their childhoods to the fullest.

As I write this, you are probably hard at work, or maybe taking some time to yourself.  You are a good person, all my friends are. 

As I write this, people are starving to death in Somalia.

As I write this, cholera is killing hundreds.  Cholera, which can be treated with basic antibiotics and water.

As I write this, mothers are staggering on bloody feet to refugee camps in the hopes that they will find food to save their children’s’ lives.

As I write this, people, good people, are trying desperately to help.

I’ve organized a fundraiser at my office.  We’re taking shameless advantage of the Canadian government’s promise to match any and all personal donations to aid in the famine relief efforts.  We’ve set up a “Lemon-Aid for Africa” event on Friday, and we’re going to sell baked goods and lemonade to drum up some support and even more awareness for this tragedy.  My office members have already given a little under $400 in personal donations, with more pouring in by the hour.

I have always hated it when people scream out that old cliché “won’t someone think of the children!” but I can’t think of any time when it is more apt than it is in the case of famine.  When I watch the news, when those worthies deign to show any African famine news at all, and see images of children the age of my sons, their legs so thin that you can see the bones, I have to take slow, deep breaths to avoid crying.  These kids are starving to death, dying of the measles (yes, dying of the measles!) and cholera, because of a natural disaster in the nation.

Even more upsetting to me, the comments on various forums and news sites… just when you think your faith in humanity can’t be shaken any further, it gets beaten once more.  Yes, Africa does seem to have these problems regularly.  Yes, we should also look to our own countries.  Yes, some of the money you donate will be used for administration, and yes, some will fall into the hands of regional warlords and militias.  But some, even a pittance, will still go into a pot of rice, so that a child can eat.  Some will buy a basic vaccination package, so that a child won’t die of the measles.  And while Canada is no paradise, few people are starving to death here.  Few people are dying of easily (and cheaply) preventable diseases.  There are no refugee camps.  There are no mass graves.

I’m challenging everyone, that’s everyone I know and everyone you know, and the people they know, to spread the word, and to give just one hour’s wage to this terrible disaster.  One hour’s wage – we can all afford that.  No matter how tight your budget is, you can scrape together one hour’s wage.  For some of us, that’s $10.  For some, it’s $300.  We can all find that bit of decency to make a small difference. 

Because ten thousand small differences can change the world.  And a million small differences can move it.

Be part of making the world a better place.  Take this One Hour’s Wage challenge.