Last week when Hani and I were weeding, she very carefully pulled a long piece of long grass, exposing the sweet, succulent piece at the bottom. She put it in her mouth and sucked on it saying, "Mama! This is water like in Sidama!" She explained that she was very thirsty in Sidama, and that she learned to pull the long grass up so that she could suck the scant water from the end. I can't stop thinking about how thirsty she must have been to appreciate that little drop of water.
Melese is little. I mean, not even on the charts for his age... except for his head. The first time we brought him to the doctor he was at less than 5th percentile for height, less than 5th percentile for weight and 84th percentile for head circumference. Kinda funny, right? His huge head on this little tiny body. We joke that he is like a lawn dart, because every time he falls he falls directly to his head. We actually wondered if he might be a little person, because his proportions are so different than any toddler we had ever seen. But he's not. He's actually so little because when the body is malnourished, it tries to save itself by sending all of the nutrients to the brain. The rest of the body stops developing, in the hopes that the brain can be saved.
Hani and Melese are from Sidama. It is the birthplace of coffee. The land is beautiful, but harsh. People survive by being subsistence farmers. And there is a drought. There has been for several years in a row. I read one report that struck a chord with me, since I am a farmer's daughter. They said that a local farmer, Hussein Muhammad, rubbed two sheaves of wheat together and the husks turned to dust in his hand. His whole field. Everything he had planted was gone. They have no crops left. Their watering holes have dried up and their livestock are dead or dying. Food prices have risen 270% in some areas.
The famine that is coming will effect 15 million people. In 1980, Ethiopia became famous for pictures of starving children. Over one million people died. One million. That's like the city of Dallas starving to death. This famine is expected to be far, far worse. I can't comprehend what that would look like. But Hani and Melese can. They've spent days, weeks, months being thirsty. And hungry. Feelings that the average American really don't have any clue about. They are safe now. Eating pasta salad and far too much ketchup right this minute. But the family that they left behind in Sidama are right in the heart of the area hardest hit. Three little boys are on my mind, just three out of millions, are sitting in the hot sun being hungry and thirsty and maybe dying. And they are breaking my freaking heart. I can't help them specifically. But maybe, just maybe, if enough money for food and water and help goes towards Sidama, a little trickle will get to them.
I have said it before and I will say it again, that my children are beautiful and special and miraculous. They are these amazing little people who I fully expect to change the world. But it was nothing that we did that made them so special. There are millions of children, just as special and wonderful and incredible as they are. They should be growing up to change the world and they aren't. They are dying. Their parents are listening to them cry for food... food that they can't give them. And this is a travesty. And it makes me so angry... and so ashamed.
I can't stand the thought of those little boys with my son's eyes waiting for food that will not come, so we're going to help. And I hope you will, too. Here are some ways you can.
Plumpy Nut Fundraiser- Plumpy Nut is a life saving food suplement. It has been proven to work better than anything else that they have tried.
Doctors Without Borders