Not long ago, I finished reading the book Half the Sky.
I think you should read it.
Journalists (and authors) Kristof and WuDunn convey in blunt, honest -but not sensational- terms the very real and brutal issues facing women and children around the world.
The two journalists visited and befriended women who were/still are affected by prostitution, sex-trafficking, genital mutilation, slavery, inadequate maternal health, poverty, and abuse.
Rather than elevate the women and sensationalize the stories, Kristof and WuDunn challenge the reader to actively engage in the global conversation.
Meeting the basic needs (food, safety, shelter) and empowering women and families in self-sustained living requires a long-term (and sometimes slow-moving) commitment. Actively engaging in the global conversation is not sexy or successful - as defined by our culture of convenience. Yet, there are small and large ways to be involved, and the reward is immeasurable.
It's been said often: We are called to community.
To live in community means to support, to help. Yet, there are times when helping hurts - or comes short of meeting the need. Help, particularly on a global scale, can be thwarted by political and theological sparring - so caught up in the politics or right/wrong theology that we are figuratively blind to the weeping woman at Jesus' feet.
This book made me think of what I've heard lately "first world problems" vs. "third world problems". This related video has been circulating the social networks.
Half the Sky also made me think of an article on Malaika Mums from a recent edition of the Bloom magazine. How challenging on a completely different level it must be to raise a child with special needs in a village where everyone thinks you are cursed - because of the disability. Here's a link to Malaika Mums, and here's one to Malaika Kids.
Back to the idea of being called to community; here's the parallel I pondered.
Raising a child with special needs is so challenging that it is essential to have help. Sometimes the future is daunting, almost scary, because we can only wonder who will feel called or be called to help our child. [Bernice's recent blog post shares an aspect of that fear.]
In the world of special needs, meeting the basic needs of food, safety, and shelter are challenging. Trust me, I am aware our culture is rich in resources, but allow me the following thoughts:
How does a parent meet the basic need of food if the child won't eat, can't eat, or would rather eat feces than food? How does a parent meet the basic need of safety if the child is prone to self-inflicted injury, bites themselves - or bites and hits others? How does a parent meet the basic need of shelter if the child habitually flees the home, with no destination in mind?
These are hard questions. These aren't necessarily the questions that apply to my family. But, I know parents who deal with this. It is not easy. It is isolating.
Sometimes I wonder if it is difficult to mobilize the masses when the "fix" isn't quick, efficient, or appropriate (in accordance with our comfort level, our politics or our theology).
We are called to community.
We are called to support each other long-term, however slow-moving it might be.
I am thankful to be in a place where my children are not considered cursed, in a home with working appliances and medical devices. I am thankful there are people and programs nearby to support us in caring for the girls. I say this in the light of Grace, while still sometimes overwhelmed by the future for my family.
I was encouraged by the resiliency of the women in the book Half the Sky. Their stories were unforgettable - with experiences I can't began to fathom.
I do not want to be blind to their struggles, but I can at the same time hope to have a similar resilient nature, with an inner "stertke" to never give up and willingness to ask for help.
I want to find ways to actively engage in this global conversation, to put my faith to work (thanks Pastor Jim). The book made me think - I'm reading it from the comfort of my home... Are these same issues viewed differently elsewhere in the world?
Somehow it must be possible to fuse together the needs of our kids and family, the stress, sorrow, and joy, with the desire to help meet the needs of people around me and far away from me.
Hope you can figure that out for your life too.
Peace to your homes.
caught in mid-spin... she will make 20+ circles without stopping
not impressed with the tactile exercise - water beads
Rachel not impressed with me taking a photo mid-story
and she was read to sleep, dreaming of her own circus