Tuesday, 6 January 2009
I was reading an article (somewhat bizarrely, at KansasCity.com) about one of the less publicised killers in Dakar, and it got me thinking about work and desperation and hunger and ignorance and unconditional love.
And how, for good or evil, we are all linked together.
"First, it took the animals. Goats fell silent and refused to stand up. Chickens died in handfuls, then en masse. Street dogs disappeared.
Then it took the children. Toddlers stopped talking and their legs gave out. Women birthed stillborns. Infants withered and died. Some said the houses were cursed. Others said the families were cursed."
As people all over the developed world become aware of issues of global warming and sustainability, and as we learn to "do the right thing" and recycle, there are unintended consequences. I've handed in my share of old car batteries, but after reading this story, I'm wondering how I may have contributed to this tragedy.
I thought of the mothers who carried that lead-laden ground back to their houses to sift. It must have seemed like a dream come true: money from the ground, and no need to leave the children alone while they worked.
I wonder if they would have taken the chance if they had been made aware of the risks? Somehow I think they may have. On the one hand there is that universal belief that bad things happen to other people. On the other, if you are desperate and hungry, or your children are, you'll do anything.
Imagine the terrible choice faced by parents in Zimbabwe watching their children die of thirst or risking their lives with untreated water scooped from roadside puddles?
Actually, it doesn't take much to imagine it. I know the righteous anger I feel if I think anyone has said anything out of place to one of my sons, or hasn't given them the recognition they deserve. I know how I feel when they have hassles at work, or struggle to find jobs, and I know that I would do and give absolutely anything to see them both happy and fulfilled.
And if it came to their survival? I'd be right there, sifting the lead.