We're excited to share this post from our partners at BabyCenter! Every week, we will be bringing you the best parenting and lifestyle stories from the experts at BabyCenter, including this post from Amy Graff about how moms can combat the famine in Africa.
A debate recently erupted on the BabyCenter Facebook page over whether the United States government should provide education, food, clean water, vaccinations, and other health services to those living in poverty-stricken Africa. Many Facebook fans sympathized with moms and children suffering in under-resourced areas while others felt that we should turn our back to the famine in Africa and focus on those who are struggling in our own country.
And then the discussion spiraled into a heated political discussion.
Honestly, I don’t think this should be about politics. Yes, it’s about government, but it’s not about left and right. It’s about right and wrong. It’s about whether you value a child’s life or not.
This discussion was sparked by a Facebook post about my visit to the White House. On Tuesday I stepped inside the West Wing with a group of 10 other moms to meet with Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and National Security Council Senior Director Gayle Smith.
We were invited to the White House because over the Summer we traveled to Kenya on a trip organized by ONE, a nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to fighting poverty and preventable disease in Africa (join ONE Moms). You might remember some of my Momformation blog posts about visiting a hospital where doctors treat kids with malaria and watching a health-care worker test a family for HIV. We observed US investments savings lives, and now we were bringing our experience back to Washington DC to let lawmakers know that these programs are effective and working.
Dr. Biden chimed in with stories about her recent visit to a Somalia refugee camps in eastern Africa, a part of the continent that’s experiencing the worst drought in 60 years, the worst famine in 20 years, and ongoing violence. She consoled women and children trying to survive in the largest camp in the world. It was originally built to accommodate 90,000 people and is now overflowing with nearly a half-million impoverished people. In Somalia, a child is dying every six minutes.
“It’s so bad,” Dr. Biden said. “It’s worse than you can ever imagine.”
Keep reading to learn what we can do to help save a child in Africa.
I know if I were that mother in Africa I’d want other mothers to know what I’m going through and help.”
Dr. Biden’s words resonated with me. As a mother, I feel a responsibility to take care of other mothers and children who clearly have no means to help themselves. I’m proud that our country has a history of goodwill and foreign assistance, and here are more reasons why I think it makes sense to help these starving kids in Africa:
People, lots of them, are dying. Over 30,0000 people, most of them women and children, have already died in the east Africa famine. The United Nations has said that as many as 750,000 people could starve to death in the coming months.
These people are poorer than poor. Many Americans are struggling right now. Families are clipping coupons, losing their homes, and desperately looking for work. But our country has plenty of food and water for everyone. The people in eastern Africa are barely hanging on to life. They want only a glass of water and a cup of corn.
It costs very little to save a life. The average American thinks 30 percent of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid and wishes only 20 percent went toward helping poverty-stricken areas. Guess how much we really spend? Less than 1 percent. Yes, less than 1 percent of the US federal budget goes toward foreign assistance — it’s peanuts. And this money is being spent efficiently and effectively, and it’s literally saving lives. “Only a couple dollars saves a life,” Dr. Biden said. In other words, we’re all very misinformed. I know that I was.
Foreign aid makes the world a safer place. In Kenya this Summer, I visited a school in a slum where children were learning to read and write. The school received money from a local church and the US government. In the ramshackle auditorium – that’s about the size of your living room – a huge banner hung reading “Thank You United States.” African citizens appreciate foreign assistance and think highly of the United States. As a result our country’s highest approval ratings come from Africa. They are our friends. If we stop the aid, extremists groups could get involved instead. The New York Times recently ran a story reporting that Al Qaeda was passing out food and water at Somali refugee camps. We should be the ones passing out the bottles of water.
Watch the ONE Moms video below.