‘Where have all the children gone?’ they cried –
Those citizens of fourteenth century Hamelin town,
For the children disappeared without a trace –
Because men were dishonest and denied their word.
Surely we do not want to visit once fair Africa
And cry out ‘where have all the children gone?’
To see no more those laughing, friendly brown faces
Split wide with ear to ear happy grins.
We said, and still say, that these deaths from famine
MUST NOT CONTINUE; next time we will be ready,
But to prepare ourselves means all of us giving NOW
So that the early warning systems can be set to go,
If, having reached our western state of civilisation,
We are still just like the councillors of Hamelin
Who forgot to Pay the Piper once the plague had passed –
Then we deserve the murrain on our crops and the curse.
A land without children – whether laughing or not
Is a dead land of ghastly hopeless forlornness –
All our futures, all our tomorrows, are in children
The pitiable little ones that compassion must not forget,
Perhaps it is that compassion~ ignoring at its Peril
The needs of children who are the world,
Knows our consciences must be stirred all the time
And we must crY out forever ‘gainst cruel injustice.
It is unjust that only one quarter are ‘people like us’ –
And the rest have not enough food and education
To know or to care that somewhere it is better –
And people squander their substance in wasteful living,
Not envy, malice or spite motivate their actions
But Just a desire to be a Part of a very lovelY world,
To say again with feeling “That load is my son’s bread”
Against the measured hand outs of life sustaining ‘porridge’,
What good are those stored mountains of grain and butter,
Those great lakes of wine that are the price of the EEC?
They will rot, and in that rotten stench will be seen
The pitiful bodies of those who could have lived if only ….
Not bludgers, not deliberate denial of hard work and care
Just the victims of weather, conditions and economics –
But above all People of flesh and blood with hopes and fears
As relevant to their identity as ours are to us.
Just because we have rain let us not forget where it is dry;
Just because we have good crops let us not forget the wasteland,
Just because our children are well fed let us not forget the hungry;
Just because all is well with our world, let us not forget the rest,
Please will You give in the name of charity which is love for all?
Please will You give so that women may not cry in anguish?
Please will You give so that children may live and laugh again?
Please will You share of Your good fortune with the luckless?
Pam Barrington MBE