I’ve written this story about imbalance in the world. It’s written from the perspective of three very different children who live very different lives. Enjoy………!
I’m laying on my back on the hard, bumpy, blood-red earth, staring up at the needle pricks of light that are visible through the dry grass roof. I can’t lay on my stomach, the protruding ridges of my ribs dig sharply into my flesh, causing me to toss and turn in uncomfortable sleep. But I can’t seem to fall into that slumber anyway, I lie awake, thinking of the days of hardship that lie ahead. The sickening smell of my five younger siblings, all laying in pools of their own diarrhoea makes my nostrils flare and my throat catch. I’m trying not to gag.
I’m looking around at all their tired faces, bloated stomachs, runny noses, thin legs, dirty clothes. Anger is welling up inside me. It’s not fair, I’ve heard stories of lands where healthcare is free and every child can go to school. If they can have it, why can’t we?
I may never have got an education, I may only come from a poor remote village, but I know injustice when I see it. From what I know about this earth, it is severely imbalanced and that has to change.
Why should I work from dawn ’til dusk in the heat of the African sun just to survive another disease ridden day when others are able to live a life of leisure, with no responsibility or struggles at all?
I’m walking through the shopping centre with my Mum, cups of £3.00 coffee in our hands, our arms full of bags and boxes containing designer clothes, shoes, and hats. We’re laughing and talking and pointing at the shop fronts, when a woman approaches us. “Hi!” she wears a huge friendly smile and a t-shirt bearing the logo of a charity that helps impoverished kids in Africa.
“Have you got a moment?” she asks, still stretching her mouth into that smile, that seems as though it’s a size to big. “Yes, okay.” My Mum says politely, though she looks apologetically over at me.
The woman waves a photo of African children with pleading eyes and sorrowful expressions in our faces and leaps into some huge talk about poverty, disease, education, child labour and death. Her whole tone is sombre and emotional, yet she doesn’t wipe that stupid smile off her face.
“Now,” she says, when she’s finally finished. ” just sign here to pay £12.00 a month. That’s just the same amount as four cups of coffee and it could support an entire family for a week.” I see her eyes lingering on my hands. I glance down at the paper cup and feel guilty. I guess that’s how she wants me to feel. My Mum takes the pen and silently writes her name on the sheet. As soon as she’s done, the woman snatches the pen away and runs off to flag down the next person, without a word.
“Ha!” my Mum laughs in disbelief, but she shakes it off and we keep walking.
It’s evening and I’m lying on my soft, comfy bed. Mum opens the door and sits beside me. “Hey, you alright today?” she asks me, stroking my hair. I think of all those kids who don’t have parents to love them and care for them. Before today, I never really thought of them at all. “I guess.” I unplug my earphones and hold them in my hands. They cost £15. I do the sums.
“Mum,” I begin. “How can I help those kids in Africa?” She looks confused for a minute then she remembers. “What kids? Oh, you still thinking ’bout them honey? I donated. We’re helping them now. Don’t worry about it. Get some sleep.”
I lay awake for hours. I know that we’re sending money, but is money always the answer to everything? Surely donating to that woman can’t be the best way to help people? And my own Mum seemed to do it in such a careless manner, as though it was an easy option. Well, I’m not going to let donating four cups of coffee stop me making a real difference. I think giving to charity can do that, it can make you feel satisfied and good about yourself before you’ve even had the chance to change anything. I’m going to find a way that I can truly help.
“Never stop writing.” My Dad’s words echo in my mind as I lay in the silent, dark house. “You can change hearts and minds with your words. It’s up to you how you use them.” I wrap the thin, woollen blanket around my shoulders and creep down the rickety wooden staircase.
I open my ancient laptop and click on my most visited site: WordPress. The bluish light illuminates the room as I sign in and go to Add New Post. Soon I’m typing furiously, fingers flying over the keys, hitting the letters in turn to spell out a powerful article about imbalance and injustice.
I’m calling it: A Balancing Act by Acacia Sycamore and here it is:
Who wants to live in world where one percent of the population own half of all our wealth? Where some people are billionaires and others live on less than $2.50 a day? Where 57 million children can’t go to school? I don’t. Do you?
The truth is that we already do, but we don’t have to. The world is completely out of balance and a lot of us want to change that.
I want to help raise awareness of the issues in our world. What we need to do is change our mindsets, start thinking of others beside ourselves.
I am not asking for your money, I am asking for your change!
My Mom in her checked pyjama trousers and t-shirt that’s three sizes too big comes up behind me and reads over my shoulder. She laughs amusedly at my jokingly impudent last line.
She yawns, squints at the time on the screen and groans. I quickly press Publish and this text comes up:
Published on Acacia’s Sycamore Tree at 03.42am.