Wednesday, September 10, 2014

For All the Starfish

Do you know the starfish story? Chances are that some relative forwarded it to you in an email sometime around 2005. That's why I know about the starfish story. It's also why, on principle, I shook my head and ignored it. I never forwarded anything, and I don't repost on facebook. Jesus still loves me. I still love Jesus. It's all good.

The story, on the rare chance that you haven't heard it, tells us about starfish that have washed up on the beach. These starfish are going to die if somebody doesn't put them back into the water, so a child starts walking along the shore, tossing the starfish into the waves. "What are you doing?" Asks a cynical man. "Throwing starfish in the water," responds the child. The cynic reminds the child that s/he can't possibly make a difference because there are thousands of starfish washed up along miles and miles of beach. The child picks up another starfish, tosses it into the waves, looks back at the man, and says "It made a difference to that one." Again, I ignored this story until I started working with my own starfish. 

I've been feeling really overwhelmed over the past couple of days. Every time a child gets a family, I am over the moon excited about it. But for every child who learns that they really are loved, there are millions more who never will. Children in the US and in countries all over the world will age out without ever being adopted. Right now, young boys are turning to crime because it is literally their only option for survival. Teenaged girls are being sold for sex, either because they were kidnapped or they were lied to and promised real jobs. Children are committing suicide. And usually, when I get overwhelmed over the statistics, one of the only things that helps me keep going is to think about specific children who used to be orphans and remember that it made a difference to that one. 

But right now, as I'm walking along this shore line and tossing individual starfish into the water, I wonder if there is a way to keep them from washing up onto the sand in the first place. Of course, somebody has to fight for the starfish that are already on the shore. But if there is a way to prevent that kind of pain in the future, I want to know about it.

Which is why I started asking around and doing my research. As it turns out, there are many, many ways to help keep children out of orphanages. We need a multi-faceted approach, focusing on alleviating poverty, providing education about special needs, ending discrimination, and several other things. A fair amount of organizations exist to address these issues. So I'm going to keep posting about my individual starfish, but I'm also going to start highlighting ways that we can help prevent children from becoming orphans.

Keep an eye out for these posts in the near future, share them so that others know how to help, and ask me if you want more information about helping the starfish. 

No comments:

Post a Comment