A Mothers Kiss
Halima Hassan holds her severely malnourished 7-month-old son, Abdulrahman Abshir, at the Banadir hospital on Aug. 14 in Mogadishu, Somalia. Pic courtesy: MSNBC
Famine. Defined as “extreme and general scarcity of food, as in a country or a large geographical area” and “extreme hunger or starvation”
Every wonder what it means to die from starvation, which is the obvious result of a famine? Here is how it starts, you body is beyond the normal state of feeling hungry, your stomach no longer is telling you that its hungry, rather your body has reverted to a form of cannibalism, it starts to eat itself, first the fat and extra muscles. But the problem is if you live in an area where there is a famine, you have very little “fat”. Famines are the result of a gradual worsening of conditions, where scarcity of food isn’t something that happens out of the blue, rather it occurs over a time until you get to a point where you look around, there happens to be no more “living things growing or running around” near you. Because in a famine people resort to eating whatever they can find around them.
A person starving will have broken down all the cells that make up the fat and muscles to make up for the balance of energy that is necessary for it to sustain “life”. At some point your body will begin to start breaking down its tissues for various organ systems, leaving your nervous system (i.e. brain, feeling, pain) and your cardiovascular system (i.e. your heart and the means to spread nutrients along with your lungs). You would begin to feel irritability, impulsiveness and eventually it all leads to passivity and atrophy- wasting away- so that the stomach being so empty and weak over such a long period, stops registering hunger and thirst. The atrophy causes your muscles wasting away, dehydration results in dry, cracked skin which makes movement not only painful but down right dangerous. With a weakened body all those fungi and bacteria growing in you start to take over– its like you are dying alive, literally- so such as the stuff on your tongue starts to grow and create blockage in your esophagus making eating and drinking very painful.
But see its not that simple, by the time your body starts to triage your various body systems, it has began to experience severe lack of vitamins. So while your body is cannibalizing itself, you are experiencing vomiting, diaherria, skin rashes, scurvy, edema, and heart failure.
All the while all you feel is pain but nothing around you registers. Pain. Pain. Pain…to the point where death seems pleasant but even death has forsaken a starving person. Starvation in human history was a death sentence given to people as punishment. We have collectively sentenced East Africa to death by refusing to give.