When I go walking and strolling it is always on the right side of the street;
In sunTner it is the shady side and in winter the sunny side under the awnings.
When I wrote that I thought of lovely Goulburn and the ‘Right Store On The Wrong Side’.
But all my life is lived knowing there is a bright and happy tomorrow coming.

For about one quarter of the people who live in a lovely world that is true.
For all the rest of the people life is a grim tragedy and a wretched farce.
If we say when looking at them ‘There but for the Grace of God go I’, and mean it –
Do they in their turn say ‘There but for the Devil’s whim go I and mine’?

What can we do for, and say to, the Voltaic wanen of the Upper Volta
Who set off every other day for a long walk to stagnant pools used by animals ,
Where they gather putrid water in leaking jars balanced on their unbowed heads
To take back to the camp for cooking, drinking, bathing and husbandry.

Do we really think, and mean, ‘How lucky they are to get every other day off’?
Surely such crass statements made fran the security of our safe lives
Can only demean us as they show how little we really care, how little we have learnt
Of those desperate straits in which the lives of most of our sisters are spent.

Do we really believe that the pill is available to all women and therefore
Those who still find themselves in a state of perpetual pregnancy and childbirth
Have no one to blame but themselves – and have no call on our pity and understanding?
If they can’t read, write and have no money, how do they get this magic pill?

Women and children herded into concentration camps with their men gone – where?
Dead; to the Army; to the guerillas. Who knows and who cares? It should be us.
Guarded by someone’s Army – which means they are a prey to every man’s lust
And when men run amok and killing is the nonn, where are we that should care?

They wonder the earth as refugees just as Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus did;
Homeless, helpless, friendless, put into camps, organised, fed and helped.
Their own land is no longer a haven and a home to them, and whatever other land wants them?
To our eternal shame they go on living in refugee camps year in and year out for ever.

And do we oh so brightly say ‘Ah, no housework to do, no dishes to wash, no floor to clean’
‘Do we have no compassion for the woman who once had these and now has nothing?
What is our right to condemn, to postulate reasons for poverty, to ignore misery –
My friends it cannot continue to be such an imbalanced world, to be US and tiny them

When death comes as a friend to children who suffer pestilence, plague and famine,
Can we look on our own beloved children so well protected against all evil and ills,
And feel no motivation to do that little something that will help the strange child –
As the world grows smaller, the strangers grow closer to our lovely bright side of it.

Our Nurses and Doctors go forth with young, bright hopes and faith and ideals;
Daring to tread where we would fear to go for their mission in life is healing.
Oirs is the important task of back-up, of support, of being there when needed
To supply the medicines, drugs, the food, the immunisations that are essential.

Let your conscience be stirred on the night before Christmas when the house is stilled;
The stockings are filled, the sugar plums dance in our heads and we will feast the morrow.
Thirty thousand children will die that morrow from malnutrition, hunger and sickness –
Won’t you spare a little something so that a little child may live – and perchance laugh.
.
It would be very nice and very convenient too if everything unhappy disappeared;
If the papers did not show match stick limbs and swollen bellies of marasmic kids,’
Because somehow we had come to our senses, and decided children’s lives really mattered.
But until that happy day, will you not join us and help to Save the Children?

They are not asking for Mercedes and Volvos and split level mod-con houses,
But for a fair share of what the world has to offer a very few lucky happy people.
Their fair share will mean that our fair share is going to be a lot less, but still fair
And if we cannot share, then the weight of those millstones will surely crush us flat.

Children are our hope, our future, our joy and so often our reason for striving,
And if we can accept this for ourselves, we cannot deny that others feel this also.
There is an awful lot that we are capable of bearing ourselves and for ourselves –
But we all know about that particular loaf and that it is just that – MY CHILD’S BREAD.

Have your Happy Christmas and your Bright New Year with all its glad tidings,
But make it so much happier by giving a little so that someone else’s child
May look with bright eyed wonder at a plate that actually has good food heaped on it.
We ask the Lord to have mercy on every child in every place the wide world over.


Pam Barrington MBE.

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