Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A forgotten country....

Somewhere in the world... there is a country of 11.5 million where more than half of population are children. The average life expectancy there is just 37. About 1.5 million of population are infected by HIV, half a million have died from AIDS, and there are a million of AIDS orphans.

This is not an imaginary country. This is not a place in gloomy-themed science-fiction. This country is Malawi, one country in Southern Africa. And my statistics are not from a decade ago, they are today's numbers.. It's Malawi today.

I knew there was a country named Malawi, but never heard, read, nor watched anything about this country. I never tried to learn about it until three months ago when I met someone from Malawi, a very nice and warm Malawian who speaks in American-British English. Joe Kalilangwe, that is his name. Knowing Joe and even sharing an office room with for about three months does mean a lot to me. Not only learning about Malawi and Southern Africa, from the story about Malawi I have learned something beyond the story itself. With his passionate way of telling stories, Joe told me much about how it is to live in that country. I really learned a lot from him, at the same time I started to try to learn more about Malawi, mainly from the Internet.

One day, Joe forwarded me a URL about famine in Malawi, where I read the story that very severe food shortages threatening the populations of Southern Africa, but the most acute crisis was in Malawi. The situation was really bad that people had to dig for mice to feed their families. Just simply no more food to eat. No crop in the field. Just nothing. Thousands kids died of famine. Adults died of AIDS. Some babies were born with HIV.

It really strucked me. Made me... ah, cannot say... so speechless. Too sad. It was 1.5 months ago and we never really talked about this issue deeply. It was just too sad. Joe left Enschede 2 weeks ago, but he didn't take the word 'Malawi' with him. The word 'Malawi' remains in my mind..

Today as I learned about the world statistic of life expectancy, I was shocked to find out that Malawi's life expectancy is the shortest in the world... 37 years old?.. ah.. and even later I found out that in December 2003, the life expectancy there dropped to 35 only.

My friend Anne-Marie who visited Malawi last year told me that she found some places in Malawi where there is no shop nor kiosk. Just nobody sells anything. The only shops she could find are furniture shops. Yet the only furniture they make is nothing but coffins. She also said that most of teenagers (16-17 years old) have already lost their hope.. they don't have no goals nor dreams in their lives... they just simply hope to not die too soon.

Imagine half of million innocent little creatures just wait for their time to die.... Imagine a place where people just go to funeral today, bury the neighbor tomorrow, and lose their relatives the next day.

Why such place exists in this world? Why we cannot help? I believe we can.... In today's world, such situation like in Malawi shouldn't exist.... We shouldn't ignore it... I believe we should do something... I believe we should care...

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