In a world of obvious, giant needs screaming for urgent attention, what about the ‘smaller’ ones? The more personal ones? Like a child’s need to be ‘cool’. To fit in. Is there space for the little things that won’t save a life, but will certainly make it much more bearable?
A UN report describes the humanitarian crisis in Yemen as ‘the worst in the world [with] an estimated 24 million people [requiring] some form of humanitarian or protection assistance.’
There has been some progress in recent months, yet the situation in Yemen remains dire. Malnutrition, explosions, cholera, unemployment. The list extends. No one – no child – remains unaffected by the conflict – although not always in the most obvious ways.
Along with many others, we are responding and we can make a difference. There is hope, but there is a long way to go to see people with the basic food, health, sanitation and protection they need.
Children... are children.
Sabiya* was unable to afford to buy clothes for her children, so they had to wear the community’s cast-offs. Still, under the circumstances, it’s possible to suggest they should have been grateful. Their basic need had been met.
Only... the neighbourhood children recognised their own unwanted things and Sabiya’s children said they felt ‘inferior’ and ‘humiliated’ whenever they went to school or out to play. ‘The despising eyes’ were on them, as they put it. So, to hide their shame, they stayed inside. They became isolated – missing out on friendships and the possibility of a full life.
Though Sabiya’s children may live half a world away from mine, speak a different language and have different coloured hair and eyes, in the end they are not so different. Children are children. Not to fit in with their peers is to be lonely. To be outcast. To hurt. As a mum, this hurt Sabiya too.
A-dress-ing the problem...
Then Sabiya met one of Tearfund’s partners in the region. She received food baskets from them for five months which meant she was able to feed her children. On top of that, it allowed her to save a little money to buy new clothes. The new garments gave her children the confidence to go out and face their peers, providing an opportunity for them to return to play and enjoy their childhood.
In a world of urgent needs, perhaps new clothes for some kids to feel accepted by their friends may not appear to be the most pressing one. Maybe it could even seem trivial to some. How can such a thing matter in comparison to gunfire and starvation? But I know this: when my children hurt – irrespective of how ‘valid’ their hurt might seem – I hurt. I wonder, then, as we consider the outrageous love of the Father for his created ones – how much more deeply must his heart be moved by the little things that matter to these children? The small, big things.
Your word tells us that you are full of compassion. You number the hairs on our heads and you know and love us intimately. Thank you that you hear the cries of each of these children’s hearts and you care so deeply for them. Please be close to Sabiya and her children and all those in Yemen, and pray for peace to come quickly.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
*Name has been changed to protect identity