07 June, 2009

Some headlines through the week

"A herd of hungry elephants has forced all 5,000 families from a village in northern Mozambique to abandon their homes, state media reported on Friday."

I saw this headline as I was scanning over stories today. It was in the odd bits section which made me think its purpose was not to be pulled out and made into a justice story. But think about the scenario above. Think about the dynamics. An entire village has to pick up and move on, because elephants have taken over and it is too dangerous to live there. Where will they go? How many were killed before they decided to leave? How often does this sort of thing happen? Will they all stick together, or will the entire village split up? Will the families have a livelihood now? What will they do for food? Will they receive any compensation from the government for relocation?
It is just another reminder to me, that while my life and privileges are completely different from those of these villages, their needs and their emotions are the same. It was another reminder to me, that we continue to see Africa (and the majority of the developing world) as the exception to every rule. Somehow death, disease and destruction are less impacting there than they are here. How do I know we think this way?
Take the example of swine flu. Yes, it is bad, but the precautions taken in this country, and the immediate action of government, health services, schools and the general population demonstrate the power of our country to overt death, disease and destruction. Meanwhile AIDS continues to take out an entire continent, and our lack of action suggests that we are...? Some could argue that our precautions will protect other vulnerable nations from the spread of swine flu, and that is true. But I think we would all agree that the average Joe is more concerned about the spread of the virus to them here in Australia than it's journey overseas. Worth some thought.
Another example from the week's news that demonstrates that death, disease and destruction are less impacting within a developing world context than here would be the Air France Flight 447 Airbus crash that took place this week. When I heard the news, I felt so sad for the families of those lost. But then in my mind, I heard the voice of 'Stop the Traffick' founder Steve Chalk who illustrates some horrific facts on human trafficking. He states that 1 person is trafficked across borders every minute; equivalent to filling 5 Jumbo jets every day & a trade that earns twice as much worldwide revenue as Coca Cola. People are trafficked for sexual exploitation, sweat shops, domestic service, child brides, circuses, sacrifice, forced begging, and I am certain a range of other despicable things that a human should not have to endure. So while I am sad about the one jumbo jet falling into the sea, and the loss of lives that followed, I want us also to be sad, and seeking justice for the five jumbo jets of people trafficked every day. I want us to be putting as much money and effort into rescuing the 'live' victims, as those already dead.

Have a powerful week,

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