The word in Spanish for hunger is el hambre, and for famine la hambruna. I think famine sounds far too technical, far too removed from what it must be like not just to be hungry but to be with tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are deeply, deeply hungry. Starving, dying.
Here on the south coast if we wander along the lanes we can find berries growing on bushes, plums falling off trees, and soon fields of apple trees will be dropping fruit because there is not enough demand in the markets at a price that makes them worth picking.
As the fruit wastes away on the ground we eat processed foods which make us fat and now it seems massively increase the chance that it will be cancer that takes us out.
I find it hard to support an economic system which does not readily move what is in excess in one place to where there is nothing. It is left to Charity, to the UK Government to donate £50 million on our behalf, and for us to donate as well, clearly there is a need, clearly we should help those in need, it was not their fault the rains failed again. But it seems Charity only occurs when the dying children reach our television screens, at other times we respond to 2 for 1 Pizza offers, with free delivery.
And of course, which Charity? Do we pick the one with the best adverts? Do we pick the one that shows us more pain than another, or one with smiling faces? Do we pick one that offers long term solutions rather than quick fixes? Or do we pick one our parents used to pick out when you went shopping as a child??
OK, so let’s review, who is out there saying what?
Oxfam – £5 a month for helping to ‘fix the global food System’
Save the Children – ‘Start saving lives from as little as £3 a month’
Unicef – many options, it is like choosing a pension, donate for the future or for now, you wil get a personalised service for large donations
World Vision – Sponsor a child and see what difference you make
BBC Children in Need – OK, UK children, but every penny counts as costs are covered by investments
Disasters Emergency Committee – Committee doesn’t sound very sexy but they represent a number of charities and donations are directed where they are most needed
Aid for Africa – for projects not emergencies
Develop Africa – It does what it ‘says on the tin’
And, of course, there are many more.
I am sure all these charities are doing everything they can for those in great need. And I am sure we need to continue to support them, but wouldn’t it be better if there was no need for so many charities trying to plug so many holes in a system which means so many people are poor, malnourished, and on occasions, in their millions, are part of La Hambruna?
Around the world groups of people are trying to engage in Transition, Towns, Cities, Streets, and as Individuals, and surely it is Transition that is desperately called for in areas which are so far from being sustainable that from tie to time, and seemingly ever more frequently, the system collapses.