A drop in the bucket

In October of 2005, UNICEF’s Richard Mabala, the head of their Youth, Protection, and HIV/AIDS program in Ethiopia, said this:

“The Global Campaign being launched today talks about children as the Missing Face of AIDS.    Maybe we could talk about the missing faces, or even the invisible faces.  Instead, the faces have been turned into staggering statistics, huge numbers that we throw around in our speeches, ‘xxx infected every minute, yyy  orphans, zzz numbers of children needing treatment,’ etc.  And as we stand and pronounce the statistics, they continue to get bigger so that our next speech will have to revise the statistics up once again.  And because the statistics are so big… they can actually disempower us as we are overcome by a sense of helplessness.  How can we ever hope to deal with such a situation?  Where do we start?  How can we find resources?  And yet each one of these statistics dreams, just like you and I dream.  In our case, our dreams inspire us to action.”

I spent a lot of years wondering, as a believer in Christ and a person who cared about the world at large, how I could ever hope to do anything that mattered when the world was as broken as it is?  Have you ever felt that way?  As if all of your good intentions, your concern, your money even, were just drops in a grossly inadequate bucket?  I’m not a doctor, a lawyer, or a policy specialist.  I’m not rich, and I don’t speak any African languages.  What could I do about HIV orphans and widows?

God has made it brilliantly clear to me that our “drops in the bucket” matter – maybe more than we even think.  I got to witness this firsthand in Zeway last year.

The widows and the children I visited were, through the financial and material support of the Hope in Ethiopia partnership, full of dreams for the future.  To them, my $50 per month constituted not a drop in the bucket, but an entire month’s worth of hope in the form of schooling, clothing, food support, and rent.  To them, my $50 provided anti-retroviral drugs, counseling for grief and loss, fellowship with other orphans, and legal help.  My visit to their one-room homes in Zeway  provided irrefutable proof that I, and my church, and my country, by extension – actually care about them and are willing to sacrifice to give them hope.  They smile, they are no longer isolated, they are allowed to dream.  They are given dignity, humanity, and connection with the wider world.

Is that a mere drop in the bucket?  Only to us, in our limited perspective.  For the “missing faces” – Abush, Muktar, Tihun, Yirgalem, Lidia, Hiko, and over 100 more orphans in Zeway – it’s a veritable flood of living water.

We can all do something that truly matters; add your drop.

Ellen Tuthill

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