Warning: Today I go out on a limb. Before my good reader continues, promise NOT to click or touch until you’ve finished this narrative in its entirety. Then feel free to hurl me into cyber trash.
While visiting relatives in a nearby city, my family and I ventured off to a nearby neighborhood where we stumbled upon a quaint, enthusiastic well-attended fundraising event for a local dog and cat shelter.
Balloons and ice-cream lured my children into further investigation of the happy occasion.
Hot dogs, door prizes, silent auction tickets, and loads of volunteers— what orchestration of time, effort, and energy gallantly devoted to the cause.
I walked into the business that hosted the affair and noticed off to the side on a shelf, a plastic, dusty container with a few one dollar bills and some change and a photograph of a sad, young girl from a part of the world where food and shelter are a privilege. Where clean water isn’t something she can count on. The young girl represents an actual place on this huge planet where mothers are giving birth in ditches. And the container seemed like an after thought in comparison to the puppy and kitten gala.
I wholeheartedly commend the organizers and supporters of the canine and feline fundraiser. I am an animal lover; I really am. I own six different species of animals. On occasion I forget to put sunscreen on my kids but I remember to douse my dogs with flea and tick spray. During harsh winter weather, I’ve been known to bring my goats into the basement to wait out a snowstorm. I name my sheep after the characters in novels written by one of my favorite writers. But at the end of the day, I still prefer the companionship of humans. I unapologetically appreciate that God in his sovereign hierarchy placed humans above animals.
What saddens me is my complacency with the condition in which the empty-eyed young girl lives her life. My animals live a far more comfortable life than most of the population of the country she represents. I am guilty for not dropping loose change into the container. I could exchange my lattes fixes and fast food stops for a bit of hope for this girl and thousands more like her.
I realize that humans are far more complicated than animals. Trust me I know. I have six kids of my own. In comparison to humans, animals love unconditionally, don’t talk back, rarely give attitude (although my sheep are spoiled and snobby), usually aren’t as expensive, appreciate efforts bestowed by their owners, devoted creatures, and so on.
I understand the need to nurture something, to love and be loved back, but couldn’t I somehow fit the hopeless girl into that scheme? For thirty five dollars a month, cheaper than most Americans spend on a pair of shoes, reputable humanitarian organizations do the work for me. I just electronically set it up, effortless.
Heifer International helps impoverished families to build an income “as people share their animals’ offspring with others so that “children who once headed out to the fields to do back breaking work will head into the classroom to learn to read. Recipients of the program agree to share the offspring of gift animals with others in need, perhaps right in the same village or community.”
Other similar national and international organizations assist in providing wells and sanitation for entire villages. To sponsor a child or mother might cost a month’s worth of dog or cat food.
It’s that God-given need to extend love and nurture that drives us over the edge with doting on our animals, but it’s often displaced. Do a Google search on just one of the organizations available and scroll down the page to witness the despair in the eyes of these children.
Honestly, most of us can afford to continue our devotion to pets and contribute to the health, spiritual development, and economic well-being of a child. I could save a month’s worth of change collected from the bottom of my purse or coins amassed from pockets while doing laundry. I am disgustingly privileged in comparison to many others around the globe. Actually, I don’t need to span the globe to find poverty, in fact, it lands right in my own speck of a community, where it was recently discovered that a local family lived in a car for an unspeakable amount of time.
I need to be the one to dust off the plastic container with the photo of the little girl on it and not just drop in disposable change but also my compassion for millions like her.
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