It's been 6 days since I talked to Tam on the phone. Being best friends, I had hoped we would stay in contact better. Our conversation started light, talking about normal teen-age girl things, but it shifted quickly.
"Hey, I've been reading articles and talking to some people. The famine in Niger is gonna be really bad this year. They've estimated it's going to affect 8 million people."
Now, why should this matter to me? But wait - 8 MILLION PEOPLE! Shouldn't that MAKE me care?! I opened my computer and used the handy dandy Google web-page and searched 'Death toll in Haiti'. I came up with 200,000. 8 Million is FORTY times that number. And no one knows about it. Obviously that phone call with Tam changed my mind about some things. But why should it strike so close to home for me?
Because it IS home.
My name is Chantelle and I have lived in the country of Niger for 4 and a half years. My family moved there when the civil-war forced us to leave the nation of Cote d'Ivoire. I currently live in La Mirada, California, and am a freshman at Biola University. However, in many ways Niger is still my home - and it breaks my heart to hear this news. Anyone who hears about 8 million people suffering from a famine that will cause malnutrition, disease, and starvation - ANYONE should hear that and care. As someone from there, who has seen the country, the people, and the need, this slaps me in the face and says DO SOMETHING!
Since Sunday, I've been moving forward with this desire - to have something done about this. No one knows anything about Niger, and even less know anything about a famine. I go to a school with 6,000 people - if everyone gave one dollar out of their pockets, that would be $6,000 dollars that could be used save lives. And why stop at $6,000? Why not make this as BIG as the disaster is? This means several things:
1) Raising awareness. Niger needs to become a place that people care about helping. People need to know what is happening there and become concerned. Compassion is necessary - one person cannot do something this big, but many can.
2) Partnering with an organization already there. I have contacts with missions organizations present in Niger already, and this is probably the best bet. I've called both World Vision and Food For the Hungry. World Vision wouldn't be able to send raised money specifically to Niger. Food For the Hungry firstly, never picked up the phone, and secondly, doesn't work in Niger. I've contacted a friend there who has started a project called Famine Food Aid. She's given me some information, and maybe branching off of her project could be a possibility. I need to delve deeper here... but steps are being taken
3) Getting other people on board. I cannot begin this movement single-handed. Thankfully I have AMAZING friends who are passionate about God and the world he loves. Lacey is my second brain, and we will be having a planning meeting tonight. Also there will be Riley, a film whiz who understands the impact the media should have, and Tim, the graphic mastermind. These people and others are willing to help me get this off the ground. On Monday, I have a meeting with the director of the Coalition for Social Action (CSA) here on campus. I've spoken briefly with her and she is very willing as well to help me move this forward. I've spoken with several of my professors, and they have been very supportive and encouraging in their words.
4) Maximize. Make this BIG. Any normal person should care if someone dies. As a normal person who knows about this famine and has lived in the country, this makes my connection to the issue exponentially larger than the average Joe. However, the biggest connection I have with it is through Christ. As a Christian, it should be our mandate to help those in need and be the first on location when disaster strikes - whether natural disaster or praying for a country that needs Christ.
Please stay posted, I'll be updating this as we move forward in this mission for Niger! Blessings!