The beginning of civilization looks in some parts like the end in the world's second largest continent. This continent is so large that a full population census has never been made. Estimates say the continent and its nearby islands may be home to as many as 748 million people.
Great civilizations once roamed this great land. The Egyptians, the Nubians, and many others once walked this immense continent. It is a land from which more natural resources come than any other continent on earth. Oil, diamonds, gold, coal, petroleum, uranium -- even chocolate and vanilla.
With its great history and rich resources, this vast land has more than 380 million people living in poverty. The average life expectancy for a male in the sub-Saharan region is but a mere 47 years, compared to over 70 in the United States.
What future would you or I have living in a land such as as this? Certainly you could not hop in your air-conditioned car and head down to the mall to shop. First, you could not afford transportation and second, no mall exists. No ice-cold glass of lemonade on that hot summer day because electricity lines have never been run to your village. It does not matter, because no one in your village can afford refrigeration anyway. Time for dinner your neighbor found a half-eaten, rotting carcass of a wildebeast and you are invited to share in this rare feast. Today you drink water, not fresh bottled Avian but water from a river that is home to several million viruses and diseases. Hopefully, you won't get Malaria today.
You and your family are awakened in the middle of night and separated permanently. Male children are now part of a warlord's army, women are used for sex and then murdered. Some men are taken as slaves, while others are beheaded. The man you knew yesterday as your President now lies dead in the road riddled with bullets. The new warlord seeks to make his name known throughout the land by any means necessary. The defining moment when you stare into your family's agony and they are dragged off in different directions you know that will be the last time you will ever see them again. Life for you forever becomes a dark void from which you will never emerge.
As the sun rises, you realize you are still alive, yet you must face the task of finding food to feed a belly that is swollen and a body that has already begun to eat itself. You are only 32, but you have outlived every member in your family and most anyone whom you ever called a friend.
Someone is fighting with one of villagers because he was trying to kill the one goat from whom the milk comes for the entire village. It does not matter -- the animal with be dead by dawn from starvation. You can't remember the last time you had any urge other than to eat, and frustration builds to the point of madness. You want to cry, but your dehydrated body cannot form the liquid to do so.
This would be your life if, by chance, you had been born in that land.
Back home in the "real world," I recently walked through the neighborhood where I grew up, and during my short journey I found enough discarded food to feed several people in that land that has for so many years suffered in agony -- a land that longs for the days where it was once a proud and celebrated civilization.
The land where we all came from, (yes all of us) needs our help...How long can we remain blind to her cries?