A tornado in Texas
I was 32,000 feet up but my mind remained on the ground; back with Ruth Zulu and her family; back in the Kenyan dust; back amongst their heartache and their hope.
Accompanied by the hum of jet engines a question echoed in my head, ‘would a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil cause a tornado in Texas?’ It was a question that had intrigued me since childhood. A concept, known as the butterfly effect, that seems almost absurd – could a small change really have such significant impact?
But there, trapped in my window seat, I realised that in Ruth and her family I had found my proof.
Ruth Zulu’s field hasn’t produced a harvest for 15 years. With the changing climate and lack of funds to purchase quality seeds, Ruth and her family relied on hand-outs from family and neighbours to survive.
After trekking 20 kms to her sister’s house, Ruth would pound enough maize to feed her family for the day, before completing the return trip. She had been doing this for two decades.
As the drought continued to worsen charitable neighbours became few and far between. And so there were times when they wouldn’t eat – they would often go three days between meals.
“We would just drink water and sleep,” Ruth said. Illness was common, and without the money to buy a mosquito net her six children were often plagued by malaria.
The children dropped out of school – forced to spend their days begging in order to survive. Their dreams lay in wait for rain, food and the opportunity to return to school.
It was at this point that Ruth’s community nominated her as one of those most in need of ADRA’s emergency food distribution – funded by ADRA Australia’s East Africa Drought Appeal.
She is now receiving monthly rations of maize, beans, oil and salt – enough for her family to eat three meals a day. And with this, their health has returned. They have the energy to play and the time to return to school. And Ruth doesn’t have to complete the time consuming and energy sapping journey to her sister’s each day; time and energy she can invest in her family and her future.
In Ruth’s story the butterfly effect made real and palpable sense. Her story forced me to consider the effects of hunger, and I realised for the first time that for the almost 1 billion people around the world affected by hunger it isn’t simply a matter of a grumbling stomach.
Hunger affects your health and your family.
Hunger limits your ability to earn an income and your opportunities for an education.
And when each of these are eroded, futures crumble away. The simple, human right to pursue opportunities is robbed by a simple lack of food.
Hunger, like the proverbial flap of a butterfly wing can send destructive shockwaves through an individual’s future and entire community’s development.
But that proverbial tornado in Texas can also twist the other way – our actions, small though they may be can bring significant and long-lasting change into the lives of those who need it most.
Just $3, less than many spend on a cup of coffee, can feed a child in Kenya for a day. $12, the average amount Australian families spend on confectionary a week, can provide three hot meals to a homeless or disadvantaged individual in our own communities. $40 the cost of an average family’s take-away meal, can help a family caring for an albino in Tanzania start a chicken business.
Stepping off that plane I realised it’s now up to me to cause those butterfly wings to flap and make a positive difference in the lives of those who need it most.
Can you help ADRA raise the $840,000 it needs to support an additional 21,000 people suffering from hunger around the world? Just $40 before June 30 can help save a life.
To give your tax-deductible donation before June 30, free-call 1800 242 372 or visit www.adra.org.au to donate online today!