I find myself reading a lot of numbers these days… 24 cupcakes, 120 students, 3.89 GPA, 94% on a paper, $52.00 for gas. Statistics have found their place in my life as well… 30% girls in my classroom, 10% of my paycheck, 80% success rate, and the like.

Then there are some numbers have gone somewhere in my head that are no  longer is in the realm of “real”.  My head fills too quickly and rejects the processing…but I can feel the numbers I am reading knocking loudly on my heart. I have the choice to be attentive to them– or not. Today, I chose to be attentive. Here is what I read in Aljezeera today (or you can watch the video):

Fighting between government troops and rebels has displaced hundreds of thousands people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), leading to what is being described as a humanitarian crisisThe fighting has been most intense in the hills of the North Kivu province in the country’s east, where rebel positions were shelled by the government forces on Friday. The fighting has created a refugee crisis with influx of people into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda fearing violence, and many more are on their way.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] says about 300,000 people have been displaced because of the fighting since November’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

More than 8,000 refugees have crossed into Rwanda in the past three weeks on top of 55,000 Congolese refugees already there.

“The initial challenge is shelter because the camp is over-stretched and over-congested,” Anouck Bronee of UNHCR said.

Another 30,000 have gone to Uganda this month, in addition to the 175,000 other refugees from several of its neighbours.

In a statement issued earlier this week, Antonio Guterres, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said: “The displacement level we see in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is already disastrous.

“Conflict there, coupled with very limited access for humanitarian workers, means that many thousands of people are without protection and help. And now people in need are appearing in neighbouring countries too.”

The UN fears the fighting could escalate and draw in various rebel groups in the region.

This is the area of the world I will call home for a few days… I pray that I pay attention to the numbers that  knock on my heart.  And they knock as loudly as they did today.

Did you hear them ?

3 thoughts

  1. I don’t think many people in my circles can wrap their minds around a situation that is so foreign to them. The numbers are staggering but the conditions are unimaginable for privileged folks such as myself. Being driven from your home and running for you life to a place that you hope accepts you must be mind numbing to say the least. Power has taken so much from the world.

    1. Point well made… It is so hard to “see through someone elses eyes…” let alone try to wrap your head around that kind of pain.

      I remember back in the days when my boys were really young and I was home all the time with them and I could read whatever I wanted… as long as Clifford the Big Red Dog was intermingled….

      I was reading an article about the physiological effects of reading about suffering. Our brain really can only “take in and process” so much. I found that weirdly comforting at that season of my life… small children, a war in Iraq just begun, husband travelling to war zones all the time. As I reflect now, I am really sad that I have stopped myself from using the gift of empathy that I believe we each have.

      I am working hard these days to let empathy take root in my life… towards those close to me and far away. Hoping to not “shut down again” as the numbers knock.

      I really appreciate you and your insights… LOVE being made to think!

      1. Yes empathy takes effort and can make us extremely uncomfortable at times. The more I deconstruct my own existence the more I find responsibility and empathy within myself.

        The difficulty for most seems to be action. A feeling of helplessness and being overwhelmed by the complications of their own daily lives makes it easier for people to just throw money at a problem or sign another online petition. I’m not saying those things don’t have a place or an impact but they’re certainly not effective standing on their own.

        I do think it starts with empathy. When I was teaching it seemed once students were presented with information in a way that conveyed a real passion they could begin to tap into their feelings and look at a situation with wonderment. The problem is our educational system is more about test results and less about critical thinking skills.

        Thank you for sharing your experiences and I will continue to follow your travels.

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