Chocolate Eggs and Shattering Emotional Shock . . .

Easter_egg Easter Monday already!  Did it all happen on Sunday in your home, too?  Yep, eggs-a-plenty, chocolate generously donated by visiting friends and family, delicious Sunday roast with all the trimmings.  Cheerful, sociable teenagers, even made a trifle as a way of mentally including my darling Dad, for whom trifle was the ‘icing on the cake’!  All was well in Chez Swift, until that shattering email.

Now, I’m a girl who has travelled extensively.  I held the title of Junior Shark Fishing Champion (under 5 age group) at one point when we lived in Bahrain and I had been up Mount Kilimanjaro and had tea in an orphanage half way up before the age of eight (I remember we had tinned pears!).  I have witnessed the stark and shocking contrast between the desperately poor actually living with the dead in the cemetery which sits in the shadow of a multimillion pound sports complex in Cairo and seen the slums of Hong Kong.   

I want to protect you . . . or do I REALLY?  Not sure.  If you want to sit comfortably in your skin, please don’t read any further . . .

Yesterday, as the roast sizzled in the oven, the chocolate gifts were in personal stacks (literally) in the lounge (friends have been extremely generous this year, someone even bringing over some real duck and goose eggs), the trifle chilled in the fridge having just had the whipped cream added to ‘finish it off’, I decided I’d take a moment during the lull in proceedings to check my emails.  You know the drill, delete most of them without even opening.  Usual rubbish.  There was one from my brother.  Usually, they are humourous in some way, sometimes a little near the edge of decency for my taste but, hey, I know what to expect!

So, opened yesterday’s submission with finger already hovering over the ‘delete’ button.  Oh, my God!  Literally, I issued a cry to the Great Power of the Universe, such was the depth of my shock.  NEVER, either during my travels in foreign lands or in photographic form have I witnessed pictures like those before me.  I experienced a rush of unidentifiable emotion accompanied by a rising nausea.  Here, on a day when we happily shared more than plenty, were some of the most conscience-jolting pictures, worse then anything I could or would have imagined.  I will not show them to you but, if you would like to witness what we, as a global community, have done to our own, please email me.   

Maybe you have already seen these images.  Where have I been all my life?  I didn’t know it was so gut-wrenchingly bad.  Yes, I know there are millions starving and suffering from disease in the world.  But the picture of a skeletal (and I mean skeletal, no flesh at all) person trying to pull themselves up from the ground using the ox’s tail so he/she (no, it wasn’t possible to tell) could drink the urine the ox was passing because they were so desperate for water and food, truly took me to an emotional place I had never been before.  And that was just one of many equally shocking pictures.  How could the photographer return to their normal life after taking these pictures? 

Also included in the photo montage was the Pulitzer Prize winner for 1994 (which I had seen before) of a vulture waiting for a child curled up in the road to die.

And still the roast sizzled and the trifle chilled . . .

I just didn’t know what to do.  That’s not like me.  Usually, I’m at my best in a crisis but, through all the emotional traumas in my life, I’d never experienced one like this before.  Decided to send it to someone who has just run a campaign to raise money for the preservation of rainforests, with a warning that the content was shocking and, if he was enjoying a family day, maybe he should not open until today.

And I still don’t know what to do.  Any suggestions?  How can we really help those in need?  Donate, yes.  But I don’t want to be funding another Merc for some corrupt Government official in Africa.  Yes, I understand the ‘accident of birth’ argument but that doesn’t absolve any of us from personal responsibility.  And let’s not forget the butter, meat and grain mountains periodically stockpiled by the EC, so much (and very uncomfortably) nearer home.

I’m signing off now and I remain distressed. 

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