How sad it is to see a child, stick thin and weeping,
Nuisance disturbing the comfort of television viewers.
Not child in a film, or an imaginative yarn ,
But a real flesh and blood child of planet Earth.
To be born, a child must have a mother and a father,
Two people to love and care the one for the other.
And from that loving and caring a joyful burgeoning
And Deo Gratias – a beloved child is born to them.
If your skin is white, and you are part of the ‘North’,
Your every child born will live to happy maturity.
If your skin is other coloured, and you are part of the ‘South’,
You and he will have very little chance of ageing.
Like children of a lesser god – and who are we to
Say the gods of others have less value than our God –
Our great God of love who knows and sees all there is –
He cannot be pleased that little children are so treated.
“Suffer little children to come unto me” – and something else –
About millstones tied round your neck if you harm them.
Just doing nothing can be harming the little children
And methinks those millstones will weigh mighty heavy.
Put yourself always in the place of that other mother,
The one whose child is stick thin with swollen belly,
And harsh coarse reddish hair of kwashiorkor
And know how you would rage against a smug complacent world.
You would not accept for your child what you want her to accept.
You would fight tooth and nail for bread and milk and meat;
You would lie and steal and demand and take food for your child.
If you didn’t, you would know the child would surely die.
All right – you don’t want them living in Fair Australia.
‘Go back where you came from’, ‘Stay in the land you came from’.
But on your conscience be it if you do not at least give
To the charities who are trying to help in the place of origin.
Droughts and flooding rains, icy cold and boiling hot,
In this land of absolutely no moderation whatsoever
Which gives you a ghastly mouse plague on top of all else –
At least give something that the world may know we care.
Pious platitudes and words of no appeal – next week, next month,
Even next year – it’s not good enough when children are dying.
It has to be now, it has to be soon, it has to be something –
Or surely we are shamed before the throne of heaven.
The mills of God grind slow but they grind exceeding small.
Do you not fear that if you have not cared and tried to help
That those awful nether-stones will crush you and winnow you
And your cold disdain and unwillingness to care will come to haunt?
A child needs help. A little brown child, or a yellow one.
It’s not going to grab a gun and shoot you or maim you.
Because it is different, you imagine the worst instead of the best –
That this child could one day be your friend and saviour.
Beggars is all that charities are, and if you encourage them
Like giving them money – they remember, and they come back again
And again. Sure we do, because you have shown you can care
And we have to ask the caring ones to keep on with their giving.
Doctors and nurses work in ghastly situations in the field;
They see death and destruction every day of their lives
They bring hope to the hopeless, medicine to the sickly,
Caring and healing love to those who feared a blank future.
Can we honestly let them go; these young men and women
With no good wishes for them and their humanitarian work.
Is all that we send away with them some love, but mostly kicks
And curses and malevolent wishes for sudden death to their clients?
Ah NO! let us never admit to ourselves that we are not capable
Of caring and loving as deeply and warmly as others have loved us.
Let us join with all the field workers of Save the Children Fund
And give the money, so that they can give their expertise and care.
Eglantyne Jebb wrote a Declaration of the Rights of the Child
And one right, “The child must be the first to receive relief”,
In times of distress:, must surely never be changed to suit
The convenience of Governments, Power, Money and Greediness.
Little children have a call on our humanity and compassion.
They are there, they are real – flesh and blood and dying.
In the name of mercy and all that you hope for your own
Give so that we may take comfort and succour to their misery.
Can you lie in your comfortable bed night after night
Knowing that more than half the children of this world
Will never have a bed in which to lie, and will not be easy
For their bellies are empty and their minds dream of food.
The food that is dreamt of – a few handfuls of rice on a leaf!
No plate, no spoon or fork, just grab up the handful and eat.
If that is a dream, then in what luxury each one of us dines
Day after day, night after night, week after week, year after year.
Please think about the little stick thin children of T.V.
If you’re thinking, please be moved by pity to give money.
Money will not be wasted, money will buy the necessities of life,
And you will be calm knowing that you have helped lull a pain.
Pam Barrington MBE