As we’ve mentioned before, probably the most common question we receive is “Why Africa?” and “What about all the need right here at home?” Recently the question came up again. I guess they hadn’t read the post “Why We Do What We Do.” However, the question is very important, and the response has far reaching implications. So we thought we’d share a true story about two young girls for others who have the same question.
Through a local ministry, we recently met a 14 year-old girl (we’ll call her Grace) who was raped repeatedly by a group of men. As a result, she became pregnant and will be delivering the child early next year. Grace comes from a broken home, her mother is an addict and her father is a good man struggling to do his best for his 5 children. Grace faces tremendous challenges as a mother who will be parenting a child while still a child herself.
Half way around the world, on a recent trip to Uganda, we met another 14 year-old girl (we’ll call her Hope). Hope was also raped and she carries a child who will be born close to when Grace’s baby is born. Hope has absolutely nothing. She is an orphan who has been taken in by foster parents, but other than the clothes on her back she does not have anything. In fact, as a pregnant woman, she even has to share a bedroom with 12 foster-siblings.
Grace and Hope have similar stories, but dramatically different circumstances.
Grace lives in Atlanta. She has access to some of the best medical care in the world. In fact, she has already been in the hospital where she received prenatal care, and she will deliver her baby in a safe environment with professionally trained physicians. She also has a basic support structure. She will have food to eat, her baby will receive basic medical care and vaccinations, she will receive baby supplies for her child, and she will have access to transportation, education, child care and possible employment. Of course none of this will come easy.
Hope, on the other hand, has a more limited support structure. Bearing a child under these circumstances carries a much greater stigma in her village. She may be ostracized. Right now, she is not even allowed outside her home because the father of her child may kidnap her and take her back to his village. She would be extremely fortunate to visit a hospital or see a doctor during her pregnancy for prenatal care, and may not even deliver the child in a hospital. Food is more scarce, she will not have basic supplies for her child, and her future is even more difficult given the surrounding environment.
So should we help Grace or Hope? They both have a tremendous need, but Grace is closer to home and Hope is half way around the world. How would you respond? We welcome your thoughts. Come back in a few days to see our response.