Thursday, May 22, 2008
There’s a blog festering in my head about why life is so much more comfortable in the US than in Mozambique, even though we have a spacious house there with AC, a house cleaner, and a gardener. It hasn’t come together yet, though, so I thought I’d mention a recent irritation of mine here in the US.
It seems like every day on the news there is something new for us to panic about. This week I’ve heard about the toxicity of flame-retardant sprays, the danger of using hard plastic water bottles, and the fact that government spending on cancer research has stayed flat in the past year or so.
You know, this stuff is so NOT news in Mozambique. When people are struggling to come up with food for the next day, transporting water in 25 gallon jugs miles by donkey cart (or more frequently human cart), and we have a cholera tent just around the block from our house, it’s hard for me to care what kind of plastic my baby’s water is bottled in. And when we’re loaning people $40 to bury their babies for NO GOOD REASON, I wish we could spend a little more on those diseases that cause the majority of deaths in this world.
Per UNICEF, in Mozambique the under-5 mortality rate is 138 per thousand. Forty percent of children under age five suffer from stunting as a result of malnutrition. 1.5 million children are orphans. Life expectancy is 42 years.
Can we not work on solving world hunger first? Infant mortality? Malaria and AIDS?
OK, off my soapbox. I know every worthy cause needs its advocates, and it IS possible to support more than one. And ultimately, maybe everything is interconnected – is the hard plastic letting off pollutants that contribute to catastrophes such as earthquakes that kill hundreds of thousands? I don’t mean to minimize the tragedies of infertility, terminal cancer, and the like that we see so often in the US. And I should also add that infant mortality has dropped significantly in Mozambique over the past 15 years, though life expectancy is still low.
Speaking of causes, we just watched the movie Amazing Grace, which was an excellent portrayal of the abolitionist cause. A good reminder that it may take years of seemingly fruitless advocacy before a change takes place, but without that advocacy, the change would never happen. Baby steps!