Editor's note: Normally I save my "World View Wednesdays" columns for... Wednesday. But today, I felt that this article couldn't wait. Please read this, take it to prayer, and share it with a friend. Our help and support is greatly needed. Lisa

This morning, I was minding my own business just enjoying a cup of coffee while perusing Facebook. I'd already prayed today's gospel and determined that I'd like to be one of the "righteous ones" who "shine like the sun". I had my to do list ready and my plans for the day set. And then I saw my friend Kim's Facebook post. In it she shared a link to the following video and her post began with the words, "I know no one will watch this but maybe a couple of people will."

Nicholas Kristof travels to South Sudan, where a famine brought on by drought and civil war threatens five million people.

"I'm in a rush," I thought to myself. "I'll watch it later." I scrolled away from Kim and the starving Sudanese to laugh at something sarcastic another friend had posted.

And then I scrolled back to Kim. And I watched the video. And I cried - because I'd almost fulfilled Kim's "I know no one will watch this" prophesy.

If you've taken the four minutes and twenty six seconds to watch the video, you probably feel like I do right now. Perhaps you're asking, as I did, "What could I possibly do to help?"

Image copyright Catholic Relief Services, used with permission A girl receives a household items kit in Yolakot, South Sudan in Lake State. An estimated 716,100 have been displaced in South Sudan with an additional 166,900 fleeing to neighboring countries as a result of conflict that erupted in mid-December 2013. The Nile has become a lifeline for the people who have sought shelter along its shores. Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Internationalis have been responding with latrines, hand washing stations, and emergency shelter kits and non food items such as kitchen materials and hygiene materials. Image copyright Catholic Relief Services, used with permission

Blessedly, there is a good answer to that question!

We can:

  1. Actively unite our families in prayer with the families of South Sudan. Today, at dinner perhaps, show your children a map of South Sudan. Tell them in age appropriate terms what is happening in that country. Decide, as a family to make a small sacrifice and pray as a family for at least one week for an end to starvation in South Sudan.
  2. Make a small gift to Catholic Relief Services/Caritas, who are actively working in the region. That sacrifice we made in number one? Say for example skipping one fast food meal this week, could feed starving women and children in South Sudan. Donations to aid directly for the emergency in South Sudan can be made to http://donate.crs.org/SouthSudan 

Since January 2015, CRS and Caritas teams have:

  • Distributed 6,656 tons of food and nutritional supplements to 265,019 people
  • Received 992 tons of food from Ethiopia for distribution in Akobo County
  • Repaired 54 boreholes, formed 41 Water User Committees and trained 48 committees at the local level for improved access to clean water
  • Formed 61 Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) groups and provided training to 34 groups
  • Served  13,162 people through food-for-work activities
  • Trained 130 community hygiene promoters, who disseminated hygiene messages to 33,238 beneficiaries.
  • Distributed household, hygiene and shelter kits to 13,458 families in Akobo, Twic East, Pochalla, Duk, Nyirol and Bor counties.
  • Trained 4,000 farmers on post-harvest storage and provided 4,000 bags of grain in Bor County
  • Continued collaboration with the Church and other organizations, including the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission,  to support peacebuilding and reconciliation

Kim, the friend I mentioned above, serves as CRS' Communications Officer, Global Emergencies and Sub-Saharan Africa. She has shared the following important talking points with me - please read these and take them to heart:

  • South Sudan needs peace and the U.S should do everything in its power to continue pushing for a sustainable peace. Without peace, farmers can't farm, children can't go to school, people can't work. Peace is the only durable solution to hunger.
  • In addition to the life-saving emergency assistance, long-term development must continue. The South Sudanese are an incredibly resilient people who want to be self-sufficient. There must be robust funding to continue this important work, as well as humanitarian access to carry out the programs.
  • The situation is dire. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes by violence. Until they feel safe to return home, they generally have no way to provide for themselves or their families. What's needed now is emergency assistance in terms of food and safe shelter but also an end to the violence to people can get back to their lives.
  • The Church has always played a central role in South Sudan. For decades, it has been the provider of services - education and health, for example - and is continuing this important role today. Because of its reputation of serving the people and its vast network in the country, the Church reaches a great number of people and CRS continues to work alongside it to help the most vulnerable in this conflict.

I'm asking you today to help me prove that we can and will pay attention to even the most challenging stories that confront us. I don't really want to be the kind of person who sees a story like this and then just goes on with business as usual. I don't want to believe that starvation in South Sudan is too big a problem to confront. I want to believe that we who are called to be "righteous" and to "shine like the sun" can and will stop, pay attention and choose to do something.

Give a gift today at http://donate.crs.org/SouthSudan 
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Copyright 2015 Lisa M. Hendey

Images copyright CRS used with permission