Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Hope for the future

In an article in the Washington Post: http://bit.ly/8EMizZ, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon writes about the hope he saw amidst the rubble in Haiti: people pulled alive from the ruins after days without food and water, hospitals functioning again when it seemed the earthquake had destroyed them totally. In the midst of the chaos, Haitians talk of their determination to rebuild their country, and make it a better place for them to live.

There are other signs of hope in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in the way that people from all over the world stopped what they were doing, put aside their differences and rushed to the small Caribbean island with one goal in mind - to help. Relations between the USA and Cuba may usually be frosty, but the needs of the Haitian people initiated a slight thaw. Teams from Iran work alongside teams from Israel. Poor countries such as Bangladesh stand side by side with rich countries such as the UK. Big countries like China and small ones like Luxembourg have done what they can to help.

The human race is a family. In a family, there are differences, squabbles, even fights. But when one member of the family is in trouble, those differences are cast aside and everyone rushes to help. The world response to the needs of Haiti have ably demonstrated that family unity, and the fact that so many reached out is hopeful in itself.

Big disasters like the earthquake in Haiti make news. We see the images, realise the immediate and dire need and race to the rescue. But Haiti is not the only place on earth where rescue is needed, and the Haitians are not the only people in need of hope.

All over the world, every single day, people suffer. Man made problems such as war or natural events such as drought, flood and landslide cause misery and hardship for millions. For many, the suffering and death is needless. For instance, 45,000 people will die today because they lack clean water - easily and cheaply provided in our modern world. Today, according to the UN, 19,000 children will die of hunger on a planet that grows enough to give each man, woman and child more than enough to eat. Lack of education, substandard housing, wages that keep workers in poverty, all preventable, and all shortening lives today.

At World In Need, we don't wait for the big disasters. We don't believe in waiting until the situation is all but hopeless before we offer help, and hope. Through child sponsorship and feeding programmes we endeavour to help the needy who haven't made the front pages. By encouraging self sustaining programmes like the women's carpet making co-operative in Afghanistan, we give people the chance to build lives for themselves.

The future is a smouldering ember. On its own it is nothing but a tiny glow. It gives neither light nor heat. It just is. But fan it with the wind of hope and feed it with the fuel of positive action and it will grow into a living flame that can empower us all.

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