The doctor’s office was simple and bleak. The walls were empty except for the chipping beige paint on stone walls connected to a stone floor. There were two worn cots with a simple white sheet on each one and a small wooden desk with a chair on either side.
This was the room where a young Somali mother brought her dying, infant son and the room where I came face to face with a malnourished baby.
This wasn’t an infomercial and there were no famous actors and film crews pleading to me through the television. Less than a foot away from me was a baby boy – barely breathing with sunken cheeks and a bloated stomach. His arms and legs were like toothpicks and he laid in his mother’s arms lifeless. Except for a faint irregular breathe that sucked my own breathe out of me.
The mother was young and guarded. The volunteer doctors that I was there with tried to get information from her but her answers were vague. Who knows why … Muslim girl in an Islamic neighborhood in a Christian clinic; young and scared; threatened by someone…. We didn’t know. We just needed answers if this baby had any chance of living. And even with an answer it didn’t seem likely that this young boy had a chance at a future.
The baby hadn’t eaten in weeks. Why? We don’t know. But the baby was starving to death. I literally thought he would die in her lap and several times we all paused waiting for another breathe to escape from his tiny mouth. I’ve never felt so helpless. The doctors felt the same way. They didn’t have the resources at the clinic to help the boy and there was no reason to believe the woman would do what was needed now if she wasn’t willing or able to do so before. The nearest hospital would not see her because she had no money and Somalians are hated by most Kenyans. The doctors debated what to do knowing the baby had only minutes. They reached into their own pockets and gathered enough money to send the mother and baby to a nearby mission hospital. They went out and secured the ride themselves to make sure she went. They weren’t hopeful that the baby would even make it to the hospital. But they had to try. They had to do something.
I don’t know what happened to that baby boy. I think about him a lot but not as much as I should. I think about him a lot but I haven’t changed anything about my life as a result of that chance meeting with death.
The past few weeks I’ve seen so many images of starving Somali children and I see him in those malnourished faces and in those skeleton bodies. The situation is different but the sentence is the same – death by starvation. Mothers and Fathers who can do nothing but try to ease the pain that their children are experiencing after days without anything to eat.
Tonight I saw my nephew’s face in one of those boys. Sadly, I’m sure this young boy is older than my nearly 7 year old nephew yet due to the famine, he looks years younger. I can’t see the mother’s face but I try to imagine what she must be feeling and I can’t. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to not be able to meet the very basic needs of my beloved son or nephew. I can’t imagine what pain I would feel watching him slowly starve to death, crying out in pain until he has no energy to even cry anymore.
God reminds me that this is my nephew. He and the thousands of others starving are my family. Our family.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, than feed just one.” -Mother Theresa
Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing. We know God can feed the multitudes. God has done it before. God needs the faith of a few who offer up their lunch as part of the miracle. Will you join me in giving your lunch?
- Fast one meal this week and give the money to one of the relief agencies listed below or research your own.
- Don’t eat out this week and give the money you save to famine relief.
- Sell things you don’t need and give the money to feed starving children.
- Don’t buy something that was an extra in your life and instead give the money to provide a life-saving meal.
- World Food Program (Click the link in my sidebar.)
- Bread for the World
- World Vision
- Samaritan’s Purse
Question: What are your thoughts on aid to those suffering in the famine? If you are “giving your lunch”, how are you doing it? I’d love to hear your thoughts here.