I write this post from the position of a person sat in their home in the UK whose wife is in the field in Bangladesh. By nature I am a pragmatic person. I search for solutions and try not to get too clouded by sentiment or emotion.
When Sian said she had been asked to visit Bangladesh by Save the Children, my first reaction were concerns about her safety. I realised though, that it was not in the best interests of Save the Children to allow any harm to come to her. I was really happy that she had been given this opportunity. On reflection though at no point did I even consider the people of Bangladesh or what she would witness. I presumed it was just the kind of thing you see on the television where celebrities visit crisis zones. It is very sad and we are happy to donate but that’s it. I lead a busy life with lots of responsibilities.
What I completely failed to account for was when a person you know is telling you straight about what they witness you respond differently. No longer do you just watch but you become involved.
What I hadn’t grasped was that poverty is not a point for clever debate. Poverty is not a statistic on a chart. Poverty is real and the people it affects have names and lives and hopes and dreams. In the case of some of the people that Sian has met, dreams may be the life of their baby or the hope that their children may grow to be adults. Both these dreams are far from forgone conclusions. I have heard of babies lying on hospital tables because they don’t have any beds. Toilets (holes dug in the ground) are situated next to ponds used for drinking. Babies are dying from diseases that are preventable and curable. People are living in squalour and filth. Babies are dying in vast numbers. But look at the pictures the team have taken. They show children smiling and genuine joy in their faces in spite of everything they face. Is that not a sign of the beauty of humanity and why it should be protected? If you look closer at the pictures and divert your gaze from the smiling faces and look at backgrounds then you begin to see a bigger picture. I get it now. She has made it is real.
We live in a world driven by violence and retaliation. Consider if the money the west put into getting revenge was used to “get” poverty, what would that achieve? Could we not embrace all the worlds cultures and beliefs as a global community? Those who would seek to do harm would be marginalised and perhaps over time be no more. This is not meant as a political statement, just an idea.
Articles will of course be written on why this can never work. Some will be convincing and others less so. The thing is though, that whilst we procrastinate, people are dying. Whilst we find reasons for not supporting or helping, people are dying. Whilst we look the other way, people are dying.
The goverments of the world have the ability to end world poverty within one generation, but ultimately they have other priorities. Before Sian went to Bangladesh I would have seen the sense in that and thought nothing else of it.
What Blogladesh has made me realise is that there is nothing more precious than the gift of life bestowed on a child and each child in Bangladesh has just the same rights as our children. There is nothing heroic or beautiful in their plight. They are people in trouble and as people, we owe it to our humanity to help.