In the name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful.
My heart aches with every headline, every story and every photo that’s flashed across the screen. This crisis has been covered by the media and has been shared by every concerned individual and group through every possible social platform. Over the last few weeks, the crisis in Africa has flooded my inbox and social media streams. Africa is no stranger to crisis and at first, I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention. We live in a world where we can spend lavishly on ourselves while our neighbours go without food, how then can we relate to a crisis on the other side of the world?
Today, my heart aches for Africa. As my 7 month old son cried for food today, an imaged flashed before me that jolted my senses and sent a rush of emotion through me. I pictured a starving child in Africa. I remembered the images that had been circulating on Facebook and Twitter and I could almost hear their cries of hunger. As I came to terms with the heartbreaking images and thoughts going through my mind, I was grateful to Allah for blessing us and providing for us. Remembering Allah relieved some of the emotion I was experiencing but the reality remained… As we go about our daily lives, children are starving, Africa is suffering yet again.
Our self-centred, materialistic lifestyles have conditioned our minds to overlook such atrocities; we live in a world of suffering and to some extent have become oblivious to human suffering around the world. A sad yet undeniably truth. I find it very difficult to maintain this “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards such suffering. I was born and raised in Africa; I saw poverty and suffering every morning and every evening. I remember feeling saddened at the sight of little boys walking barefoot on the hot African sand begging for food and money. My parents (may Allah reward them) would feed and clothe these kids to keep them off the streets. As a child there was little I could do, but I felt for them then, and I feel for them now. There are some things in life that will never leave you, we left Africa 10 years ago and I can still remember their faces, I can still remember the poverty, I can still remember the suffering. The crisis in The Horn of Africa has reminded me of my experience and memories of a people whose history has been plagued by disease, hunger and suffering. Today, my heart aches for Africa.
I read an article which told the story of a mother who was travelling on foot with her two children in an attempt to escape the famine in Somalia. A few days in to their journey, her son collapsed from dehydration, after using the last few drops of water to wake him, the mother was faced with the choice of leaving her son to die and journey on, or stay and starve to death with him and his little sister. No mother should have to make that choice, no son should have to experience that and no daughter should have to witness that. As I read the story, I was reminded of an episode of Great Migrations I recently watched. A herd of Wildebeest were migrating during the dry season, a mother wildebeest became separated from the herd as she cared for her weak calf. As the herd moved further and further away, the mother was forced to abandon her calf to re-join the herd in search of water. It was difficult enough to watch the wildebeest story, I cannot begin to describe the heartache I felt when I read the story about the woman in Somalia.
I don’t have a solution to the crisis but I believe we can all contribute in our own way. Some may volunteer their time and effort while others may contribute financially, however, the least we can do as human beings is care. So long as there is concern for those who are suffering in our hearts, there is hope for them.
As we go on living our lives of comfort, as we eat our food, drink our water and rest in our beds, spare a thought for the people of Africa and be grateful to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
Today, my heart aches for Africa…