While we filled our glasses with wine, the children were dying. While we ate our bellies full, the floods were raging. While we raised a lot of money for One Village at a time, people were drowning and the rivers and Lake Victoria continues to sweep entire villages away.
I can’t make sense of all this. Harambee this year was the best ever. And we danced and laughed and showed photos of the children we help. Our committee was all shiny and did an amazing job. The music was spectacular. But, Back in Kenya, 3 children died as they were swept down river. Livestock lost, crops are lost. Why?
Often people will ask me why there are bad people in the world, or do I believe that God created misery. Usually I can say no that is the creation of man. But the floods, God, You’re famous for this. And I wonder whether we can ever help the children and villagers out of the muck. Are You testing my resolve? Was it not enough that it shall take me 8 months to recover from last time? Of course I’m going back, but really, can you give my people a break?
How do I reconcile the life here in Boston to the misery of what is happening now in my districts in Kenya? How do I even attempt to explain to people that where I work, villagers went to bed and during the night their homes were swept away, and their children lost? It’s not like Katrina; this is something that happens every year.
I wanted to write a really upbeat article about Harambee, but I always check the Nation just to give you all an update on Kenya. And today my heart sunk as I saw the tragedy unfold in words and photos. I am so grateful for everyone who did such an awesome job, but God, it’s going to be hard to pray to You tonight. I need You to explain this one to me.
We grew prize-winning roses in our backyard when I was a child. I pored salt down holes in the rock garden to kill the weeds. And then the gardener did the rest.
I was back in Virginia this weekend. I forget how riveting the countryside is. I got to the horse country during photographer’s light, and was stunned by how the hills and long white fences looked. The huge bales of hay stood stark against the brown stubble field. The cattle and horses grazed in large groups, unaware of my passing. Their skins glistened and their girth was a testament to good food. It truly was the definition of bucolic.
As I drove along, though, I couldn’t help but think of the cattle I see more often. These are the emaciated cattle of the Mara and of the roads that bump along the trip from Nairobi to Kisumu and Nambale. There I see a young Masai walking with a stick whipping the cattle to move along to greener pastures. A thin boy hopes to find somewhere that might nourish his flock. (I never see horses, though Zebra’s dot the side of the road.) The cattle look exhausted, and the earth is dry with dust twirling up in dust devils. How different these two worlds are.
Since the G20 conference was just held and twitter was atwit with people talking about poverty and hunger, I could not help to notice the contrast. And I wonder about all the news and all the talk from celebrities about the need to feed the hungry. How will we ever change the climate enough that Kenya gets enough rain when it needs it? And if we could change the way the people farm will it not also kill off their culture?
I read the articles from Millennium and Gates, but I feel saddened more than hopeful. They talk about green planet, saving the environment, and smarter planting to help the famine. I’m glad people realize that children need to be fed, that children are starving, it’s just that the folks who are ruining the environment aren’t really interested in giving up their lifestyle so a child can be fed.
And so in the end, I feel like Charlie Brown in class listening to the teacher going, “wah wah wah wah wah”. Any ideas out there?
As I watch the tv and the endless programming on the famine in Somalia and Kenya, my heart sinks. It feels like they are re-runs of news cast 10 years ago. And Americans who are freaking out about the stock market and the economy want to watch it but just barely. See it’s hard to watch especially when you’re feeling poor. And as the Executive Director of One Village, all I’m thinking about is where are we going to get the money to feed the extra kids we will be taking in?
Why does starvation continue in certain parts of Africa? Today’s Nation had an excellent article on the 12 reasons famine continues in Kenya and I am just compelled to share it with you here. A couple things he points out were especially cogent including the fact that Kenyans don’t make food production a priority and that they are still mostly growing food for export instead of for themselves. While economically some might argue that they need the exports, however the vast tracts of land that are used for tea and coffee rest in the hands of very few people and mostly white folks who reap the benefits.
So here is the article.
Twelve reasons for the hunger that stalks Kenya, and why it’s persistent
By KOIGI wa WAMWERE
Posted Wednesday, August 10 2011 at 17:40
When death by starvation stares four million Kenyans in the face, we must ask why. In my view, there are 12 reasons for our hunger.
The first reason for this and other hungers is that Kenyans don’tconsider food the number one national need or hunger the number one national enemy.Without food, no country can have life or security. As long as leaders and the rich have their imported food, nourishment for the common people does not matter.
The second reason is that Kenyan leaders have no soul that urges them to feed the poor.Unlike Jesus, our leaders and industrialists don’t feed the multitudes that attend their public meetings or workers who toil for them.
The third reason is that Kenyans don’t engage in modern agriculture.As former Cuban leader Fidel Castro argued, if Jesus employed a miracle to feed the people, leaders and governments should use the miracles of modern farming to feed the people.Today, our people starve because our agriculture is not modern enough to produce enough food for all.
The fourth reason is that Kenyans still pursue colonial agriculture that produces flowers, pyrethrum, coffee and tea for European societies and industries, instead of keeping poultry and cattle and growing maize, beans, potatoes, wheat and other foods for their consumption. Agriculture for raw materials and profit cannot eradicate hunger.
The fifth reason is failure to observe faithfully the Biblical Joseph’s philosophy of saving food in good seasons to feed people in seasons of drought.If only leaders could save food surpluses in good times, drought would never lead to hunger and death.Nor should people in drought-stricken areas starve when food is rotting in other areas for lack of market.
The sixth reason is bad leadership. As the proverb says, when the leader limps, the herd does not reach the pasture.Hunger in Kenya is neither from God nor from Satan. It is from our limping leaders who should vacate power to end starvation.
The seventh reason is President Kibaki’s refusal to sign the Essential Commodities’ Price Control Bill. At a time when a long drought has killed animals and rendered millions too poor to buy food, a caring government would have reduced the prices of food and kept them low.
Others shed crocodile tears when they decry hunger, but oppose controls for food commodities.
The eighth reason is corruption. Strategic maize reserves have been secretly exported and relief food stolen.
On July 8, it was reported that Sh362 million meant for drought had been stolen.On July 30, the minister for Water was challenged to explain the disappearance of Sh21 billion meant for irrigation.Then Sh1.9 billion for drought relief was consequently withdrawn by the World Bank and European Union.
When the government steals its own money meant to alleviate drought conditions, then goes begging for aid to fight hunger, it is like the boy who killed his parents, and then asked people to assist him because he was an orphan.
The ninth reason is our misuse of food. In our country, there are people who throw away more food than they eat.
There are people who have billions of shillings in their bank accounts when others cannot afford Sh150 to buy maize-flour.Those who throw away food cannot be depended upon to end hunger.
The tenth reason is that in the midst of starvation, millions of acres are hoarded by some people, while millions of people have nowhere to grow food or build shelter. Leaders who hoard land are friends of hunger.
The eleventh reason is people’s poverty. Poor people cannot import food, buy it from stores or buy implements for modern farming.
Thefinal reason is the destruction of forests leading to loss of the rain we need for sustainable agriculture.