How to Help a World in Crisis
I recently finished reading Ashley Judd's powerful book All That Is Bitter & Sweet.
She writes about global issues such as poverty, AIDS, prostitution, rape, war, genocide, lack of safe water or any water, Malaria, maternal death and high infant and child mortality rates. Truly devastating stories and history contained in the pages of this book, but Ashley deals with the difficult content with grace.
She also discusses her upbringing in a dysfunctional family system -- a family that battled addictions, a family that often ping-ponged her around from home to home, one parent to the other, and left her alone altogether at times.
She discussed feminism -- not in the connotation widely thought of negatively, but in the very basic definition that women have rights and should be treated with respect and humanity; that women are not in a sub-category to men; that women are human. If this concept is foreign to you it is likely that you, as I was, are unfamiliar with how women are treated in many countries.
She discussed her marriage to race car driver Dario Franchitti, her family issues, therapy, decision to pursue acting and subsequent decision to pursue global advocacy and activism work.
She takes the reader on trips into the heart of India, Cambodia, Thailand, and many places in Africa, including Rwanda and the Congo. I learned a lot about true poverty and what that looks like. I learned much about prostitution and what causes such high rates. In a word, it is caused by desperation. Starvation, 12 year-old girls who are AIDS orphans and have taken a handful of toddler AIDS orphans as their own children to mother and provide for. That doesn't even include sex trafficking and how women, young boys and children are snatched from their homes, smuggled across borders and enslaved in a life of forced prostitution.
Every chapter is devastating and creates urgency to help. There is so much need and so many in developed countries who could do so much good. So many things that are SO CHEAP, but save lives, like water purification systems and mosquito nets.
I am so glad my family is involved with Compassion International. I am so glad we sponsor Cristian, a 5 year-old little boy living in South America. I am so glad to know, when I read about fistulas from childbirth and sexual violence, that somewhere in Ethiopia this month, a woman got a life-changing surgery because our family sent money. I am so humbled, happy and grateful to help. But it feels like so little, and I want to do more.
I look around our small house -- a house that would seem like a palace to a family in parts of Africa. We have running water -- hot and cold -- that is safe to drink and bathe in, 24/7. We have basic health and healthcare. We have shelter and food. Our children are not in jeopardy of being infected with Malaria by mosquitoes while they sleep.
Suddenly, using the word traumatic to describe anything I've experienced in my life seems naive.
There is a balance -- finding ways to get involved and help while being at peace with living a more comfortable and safe existence. I thank God for the luxury of being born in North America.
We are so excessively blessed and lucky and fortunate. I want to soak in that knowledge -- truly feel it -- and then look for more ways to get involved in the fight against global violence, poverty and disease.
As Compassion International puts it: "Start small. Think big." How can you get involved?
Here are just a few quality organizations with which to partner:
Take an hour and visit some of these sites and see if you feel called to help. If you can't help financially, post links to these sites on your Facebook page, blog, Twitter. There is always something to do, and even though it doesn't always feel like it, every little bit helps at least one person suffering.