Death is not my favorite topic, nor is it one I really like to dwell on. Especially the death of a child.
I have never experienced the pain of losing a child, I am among the most fortunate for that. I have had the experience of losing my six month old nephew. To watch my sister grieve. To watch my parents grieve. My daughter, at only six, experiencing pain unlike our family had ever experienced before. Agonizing. Raw. Not a time that I ever want to relive. To even speak of memories of my nephew can cause tears to sting my eyes, my throat to catch, and my heart to hurt. It’s real pain, that has not diminished over time.
So, these statistics grieve my heart. They are the ones that I cannot get over, the ones that I can’t wrap my brain around why this hasn’t been stopped. These are the statistics that drive me to action.
There are a few unconditional truths about orphans and poverty that I believe. They are:
1. Every single child on this planet deserves a family. Period. No ifs, ands, or buts.
2. Every single life has value, my life is not more valuable because I live in the US.
3. Preventable deaths in third world countries should move us to the same action they did when they were happening here in our homes.
4. A lot of small actions add up to a big difference.
5. We all have something that we can do today.
According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day to due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
Infectious diseases continue to blight the lives of the poor across the world. An estimated 40 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, with 3 million deaths in 2004. Every year there are 350–500 million cases of malaria, with 1 million fatalities: Africa accounts for 90 percent of malarial deaths and African children account for over 80 percent of malaria victims worldwide.
Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea.
10.6 million children died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy).
1.4 million children die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized.
These are children whose death is preventable. They are not just numbers, these are babies — whose lives are cut short when they don’t have to be.
For the surviving children and families, they are likely to be enduring extreme poverty.
Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.
Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometer but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 liters per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.
Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits.
Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.
In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to rely on biomass—fuel wood, charcoal and animal dung—to meet their energy needs for cooking. In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of the populations of India and China.
Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day.
Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.
The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness.
So many needs, so many lives that could be changed by so little help. What part can you play? What is God calling you to do?