Abandoned for Convenience?

June 6, 2008
By Hannah Shepherd, Fairfield, ME

Try to picture a young five year old boy sitting in what he calls a house, a 6x6 cubical of clay. Without any source of food or water, he has no family for support. Abandoned for the rest of his life to thrive on nothing, he has little chance of making it. A wave of millions of children are left in this situation. They have nothing, and little hope. Amongst the many of the endless battles, this is only one example of what life is like for most of the children living in Africa.

Africa is our poorest continent world wide. Families that live in Africa have 11 year old children parenting, and watching over 6 and 7 year old children. This is because their parents died from AIDS, or a lack of food and water. They have no water purification system in Africa, so they drink water that is mixed with their sewage water, and the water they bathe in. One out of every four children that live in Africa only get to have one serving of rice, if that, in at least a week, if not longer. For the most part, the people there that are living in poverty don’t really know how much longer they will live. Each family earns about 25 cents a day for their salary; which is put towards paying off the debts their parents leave behind. This system of salary and paying back debts leaves no extra money to meet the simple needs of purchasing food, or clean drinking water. A situation like this is commonly unconprehendable for most American citizens.

Children in Africa work the same hours as adults, under poor conditions, sometimes even in abusive situations. America has what it takes to help the people of Africa and to put an end to such extreme poverty. We can be the key to getting Africa out of their desperation. They are facing many struggles because we are not helping them enough. We, the United States, should be doing more about the outrageous poverty situation in Africa.

One of the biggest problems in Africa is their lack of nutrition. The drinking water is mixed with unhealthy substances that cause a lot of sickness. Sewer water and bathing water are often found mixed right in with their drinking water. Another horrible thing that can occur in dirty drinking water is a worm, called the Gunia. According to “www.cartercenter.org”, it is a water flea. Once consumed, it matures and grows in the stomach of a human. They can grow up to three feet long, and eventually escapes the body through a blister that it creates on your skin. This process is very painful, and victims of this disease are usually submerged in water to help with the burning. Bathing however, recontaminates the water causing the disease to spread throughout their community. The result of this may cause other various infections. The children, or the ones inflicted, aren’t the only ones affected by the disease. Their communities suffer as well, and experience food shortages because people are unable to work for the two months that it takes for the worm to emerge from their skin. So clean water is a basic need that many Africans are forced to go without.

Most people would argue that it is too much money to help get Africa out of poverty. Now, I’m not talking about building factories upon factories and injecting Africa with the industries of United States. We do need to take action though by feeding the hungry, and providing a clean drinking system for the thirsty. Abandoning the less fortunate shouldn’t be our fallback option. That shouldn’t even be a consideration with such an equipped country as we live in today.

Kids in Africa face incredible hardships that we are completely blind to and could never believe, or imagine for ourselves. UNCEF says that nearly one third of the children in Africa are under weight. Also, around 43% of the children sub-Saharan Africa do not have safe, accessible drinking water for hydration. To go along with that, the measles, a preventable disease that once caught by a child is still a curable disease in our country, takes the life of one child in Africa every minute, each day. A measles vaccination can cost as little as 1$ per child. Aside from that, about 2 million children, under the age of fourteen have tested HIV positive. This is caused mostly by two sources, either they were born with it from their parents, or they were put in to a sexual bondage, which usually refers to girls, who are treated as sex slaves. These are all unhealthy situations, which we are contributing to by sitting back and allowing them happen.

In conclusion, the conditions in Africa are inhabitable, and here in the United States, we have the ability to transform the problem. We can give them a backbone to their culture and thus a living. I hope that some day when we think of everyone being equal, that it is true. That we would be able to imagine that all people living anywhere in the world would have a sufficient supply of food and water, and basic sanitation. And that our imaginations would be realistic. Just try to consider the feeling of not knowing whether or not you will die tomorrow, or if you will be able to eat for the next month. Then think about what it would be like to be that person, and hear great news that there was help.

“But whose has this world's good, and sees his brother have need, and shut up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelt the love of God in him?”

1 John 3:17

Want to help???
Here are some charities and foundations that look toward supporting the helpless children of Africa~

Sponsor a child.

*World Vision


Donate for a good cause.

*Help Children of Africa

Help the children suffering in Uganda as soldiers, slaves, orphans.


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