As the images of people flocking to refugee camps, of pleading eyes and emaciated bodies, and of anguished mothers weeping over their dead children haunt me, I feel extremely guilty about having plenty of food to eat. With every bite of food I take, I am ashamed of not helping those who are starving. Today’s newspaper carries additional news, “Hundreds of thousands of Somali children could die in East Africa’s famine unless more help arrives.” HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS is a heart-breaking and unfathomable number, but one person starving to death is already one too many. It’s easy to remove ourselves from this news, because Africa is so far away and because we do not witness the daily struggles and tragedies of these people. But we must find a way to help them, because they desperately need our help.
Find 20 minutes in your day to watch this TED video featuring Josette Sheeran, the head of the UN’s World Food Program. Learn about the issues surrounding world hunger and the concepts to alleviate it. She challenges the people of the world to “draw a line in the sand and say no more.” If you don’t have 20 minutes to spare, you can see the faces of hunger and learn more about the famine in East Africa by reading this article in the Atlantic.
What can I do or anyone else do to help? Plenty! It doesn’t take much if everyone helps. According to Caryl Stern, the president of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, “Just $10 can feed a child for 10 days.” That’s all – just 10 dollars! For many people 10 dollars is not a make or break amount of money, so here’s my idea: what if everyone gave up some form of daily, weekly, or monthly personal indulgence to help end world hunger? I call it Give Up to Give Help! What are you willing to give up to feed someone who is starving? If you gave up one luxury on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis and donated the money you would have normally spent, think of how many people you could feed. To put it in further perspective, this is what your money could buy, according to the UNICEF site:
$10 can provide 321 sachets of Multiple Micronutrient Powder containing essential vitamins to give a powerful boost to infant survival and development.
$40 can provide a practical and easy to transport scale used to monitor children’s weight.
$80 can provide 1000 sachets of Oral Rehydration Salts to help children combat dehydration.
Here’s a list of things to Give Up to Give Help that I made to jump start everyone into action. Again, the frequency of giving up something in order to donate is up to you:
1. Starbuck’s or any other routine gourmet coffee treat
2. Manicure or pedicure
3. Car wash
4. Dry cleaning and laundry services
5. Dining out – fast food or fine dining
6. Buying new clothes or accessories – instead of buying a new item, donate the cost of that item.
7. Going to a movie
8. Recycling bottles and cans – start a fund to help the hungry by putting the money you get back from recycling into it
9. Admission to entertainment venues – sports, concerts, lectures, etc.
11. Tanning salon appointments
12. Cut back your Netflix subscription or the number of DVDs you rent
13. Waxing – eyebrows or bikini!
14. Instead of an impulsive purchase at the grocery counter (think magazines, candy, or gum), donate the money!
15. Buying a new toy for your child or pet
16. Bouquet of flowers
17. One cocktail or glass of wine
18. One bottle of wine
19. Stretch out your hair appointments by one week and donate the savings
20. Greeting cards – it’s the sentiment that counts, so make your own. The cost of two greeting cards could feed a child for over a week!
These items are luxuries for most of us, but considering food is a luxury for others, I think we can collectively help by sacrificing something! If you have any great ideas for my Give Up to Give Help list, please let me know!
What will you give up to help?