Posted on August 18, 2011





When Pandora has timed out, the dryer has stopped, and our little apartment is completely silent, there echos from our bathroom a slow and steady drip. Our bathtub faucet was probably constructed before the Hoover Dam, and though responsible for far less water, the thing can’t seem to contain the flow. The incessant drops of water falling into the basin of the ceramic clawfoot tub have a profound and distinct effect on me. Annoyance.

Mine is an annoyance of luxury, of excess, or extravagance. Clean, clear, wholesome water is making its way down the drain where it will join with sewage and other varieties of drain refuse.

8,847 miles from Spokane (yes, I googled it) a woman is abandoning her child on the side of the road as she treks for weeks to obtain the same stuff. Water. Across Somalia and the horn of Africa 10 million people are living through the worst drought in 60 years. This region is already an inhospitable place, not likely to be the destination of anyone’s Spring Break trip, despite white sandy beaches along the coast. For the past 20 years, Al-Shabaab (a militant Islamist group comparable to the Taliban in Afghanistan) has ruled southern Sudan offering little in the way of stable government, not to mention a myriad of human rights issues. Even in these dire conditions, this group is preventing aid organizations from entering the region, and in doing so they are condemning thousands to die of thirst and starvation.

I can’t imagine it. After weeks of little to no food and water, gathering up your children and traveling 30+ days on foot and having to decide which sick son or daughter to leave behind as a sacrifice, knowing you can only continue to move forward if one is abandoned. And then finally reaching your destination: the proverbial promise land, also known as the Kenyan border and a refugee camp already 4 times overcrowded with no room for you and your children.

This is the reality for so many mothers on the horn of Africa right now. The horror of it can only be hollowly conveyed by the unsettling pictures that can be found on most news sites, and while we try to generally add lots of pictures to our blogs, I will spare you. However, if you want to get an idea, BBC News has some great photo-journalists covering the events of the drought.

What is almost unthinkable and undeniable is that this situation was avoidable. Early warning systems set in place to prevent mass famines should have prevented this from escalating to such severe conditions. However, the international community and governments in the region have been slow to act, waiting until it is too late for many. Even with the best intentions, the brokenness of humanity is revealed in the bureaucracy that hinders good from being done where and when it is most needed.

I feel humbled that a substance that is so much of a luxury for me, it can even be an annoyance, is the same substance that is causing mothers to abandon their children who are near death. My heart is heavy for this situation (and even as I call it a “situation” I feel the euphemism of the word).

Now, when I hear the drip, drip, drip from our bathtub faucet, I hope to make it a reminder: Pray. Pray. Pray.

If you are interested, these are some great articles: