You wake up in the morning and the stifling heat washes over you. Immediately you feel incredible thirst but there is nothing to drink – not yet anyway. A small amount of clean water is just over three miles away, you have to make the round trip everyday on foot. Even though it is early, hundreds of flies have started their daily torment. It is futile to try to brush them off, so you do your best to ignore them. You were hoping you would feel better this morning, but you still have a throbbing headache and your joints hurt. You know you are running a high fever but there is no medicine to take, let alone a doctor to see. You can only hope it is nothing too serious and that in a day or two you will start to feel better.

As you try to rub the sleep from your eyes you feel the first stabbing pains of hunger. The misery will be unrelenting throughout the day. Unfortunately, there is only a tiny amount of porridge left from yesterday. You know you should try to save some of it for later, but you can’t keep from eating every drop. Now there is nothing left for the rest of the day. The inevitable sense of despair begins to sweep over you. The heat, the hunger, the thirst and the fever all combine to drain you of what little energy you had left. You sit on your dirt floor feeling hopeless and wondering how much longer you can go on like this, but there is nothing you can do to change your circumstances. You are trapped in a life threatening situation that you have no control over. It is both frightening and frustrating to feel that you are a constant victim with no way to escape.

Slowly you make your way out of your hut to join the others who will be walking for hours to get their ration of clean water. The time and physical effort this requires everyday is a burden you have no choice but to endure. You can’t imagine being able to get a sip of water anytime you want. For you that sip involves walking miles in incredible heat and dust and then carrying the heavy container back to your hut as the sun beats down and fatigue overwhelms your body.

However, it is the never-ending hunger that makes you suffer the most. The debilitating pain fills your every waking moment. You are afraid there will be nothing to eat tonight because there have been rumors that the feeding center set up by a relief organization is running out of money. Without donations they cannot continue to operate, and if they close down you might have to resort to begging on the streets. The very thought of it makes you feel ill, but you will have to do whatever is necessary to survive no matter how much humiliation you feel.

Although you live in isolation from the rest of humanity you have heard tales about great countries that have everything a person can possibly imagine. They have food, water, medical care, homes, jobs, electricity and every kind of luxury you could ever want. You wonder why those who have so much can’t spare a small amount to help people like you who have nothing. But as bad as you feel for yourself, it is the children in your village that breaks your heart. Everyday you watch them die. They are helpless against the ravages of hunger and disease so they have little chance of surviving beyond the age of five. Each day as you walk to get water you see more small graves being dug, and you wonder why the world has to be this way.

You work when you can, but the latest armed conflict has devastated the economy. You feel extremely fortunate when you can make even a dollar a day. You never had the opportunity to get an education so you cannot read or write, but you feel certain that you could learn some kind of skill if you were only given the chance. You would be willing to do any kind of labor, no matter how difficult, to earn at least something so that you could avoid begging. You enjoy working and getting paid because it gives you a sense of self-worth, while begging destroys your self-esteem and makes you feel ashamed.

Fortunately, at the end of day you are able to get another small portion of porridge. You are now trying to survive on 700 calories a day, and with a limited amount of water to drink you are becoming de-hydrated. They weighed you at the feeding center and you have dropped below 100 pounds. Your fever is still raging and your entire body aches. As you lay down to try to sleep you realize that tomorrow will be exactly like today, if not worse.

The physical and mental strain of extreme poverty is wearing you down. You don’t know how much longer you can hang on. The hunger, thirst and psychological pain are just too much. You sense that you are losing your will to live. Illness and disease are everywhere, and you are surrounded by death. As you close your eyes you try to imagine a different life. You try to picture what it would be like to have a real home and steady work so that you could get food and water. You try to envision being able to go to a doctor when you are sick, and you wonder what it would be like to not have to beg from strangers, but you know that kind of life is just a dream. The reality of your existence is a nightmare……As the evening stillness sets in you can barely hear the voices of the men off in the distance digging more graves for the children.





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