As hunger and disease claim more lives,
some ask if Africa can be saved
AFRICA - At the dawn of a new millennium, the continent that some say
witnessed the birth of the first human civilizations -- may be dying. As
widespread drought, starvation and the unchecked spread of deadly diseases
continue -- the numbers of people dying on a daily basis throughout Africa is
In many parts of Africa, the production of food depends upon the intense
manual labor of every family. When large areas of Africa are dislocated by war
especially southern Sudan where a war of ethnic cleansing is being waged, or
adults die from the scourge of AIDS, fields cannot be worked, and food cannot be
produced. Many, especially women and children are forced to depend upon hand
outs of food. Unpredictable weather can also aggravate the situation.
Starvation is claiming lives. One international relief agency recently
discovered a village in a remote region of West Africa where more than
18,000 people were on the verge of starvation. "Malnutrition is so
great in this area," a relief worker explained, "that most of the children under
five years old had starved to death before we arrived. An entire hillside was
covered with fresh graves of the children who had recently died."
Saving a Dying Continent
What can we do ... when it is too late?
Children are the most at risk: "The children are our biggest priority,"
explains Fr. Richard Roy. Fr. Roy lived as a missionary for more than 20 years
before returning to Washington, DC, to head the Missionaries of Africa's
development office. "We are trying to focus on providing our people with the
medical care, nutrition, education and shelter they need to survive this crisis.
If we can do this, then Africa will have a future."
"So many people here in the United States haven't been able to grasp the
magnitude of the crisis facing African men, women and children," explains Fr.
Richard Roy. Fr. Roy is director of the Missionaries of Africa's Washington, DC,
office. "An entire continent of people are in dire need of food, clean water and
affordable medicine. That's why we are making more emergency appeals for relief
. . . because this truly is a situation like the world has never seen before!"
The Missionaries of Africa are currently providing emergency aid and other forms
of relief to people in more than 20 African countries.
"It will only be too late for the children when we give up on them," Fr. Roy
continued. "As soon as we do that, then they have little hope for survival. You
see, many of the children have no where else to turn for help. They have so
little food, clothing, medicine . . . they need us for everything. That's why I
am desperately praying that the people here in the United States will understand
how important they are to the survival of Africa. Without our help, there will
be no Africa. Its life, its beauty, its children will eventually die. In so many
ways, the future of Africa is in our hands!"