By Jaci Schneider, Opinion Editor
Much Ado About Something
The tragedy of the tsunami that devastated South Asia after Christmas can be difficult to comprehend. After a few days of watching the news coverage on TV and seeing the headlines online, I dreaded learning the daily totals of the number of people killed by the giant wave. I can’t imagine most of my town being wiped out in a few seconds with no notice. One minute a child might have been cleaning his room, and the next minute his room, his home, his family, his friends and everything he knew might have disappeared into the sea. He is now one of millions of orphans, left with nothing but a refugee camp for a home and a future full of questions.
The tsunami has drawn compassion from around the world; countries donated millions of dollars as soon as the scope and enormity of the tsunami was reported. Individuals and businesses also gave their own money to help. As of Tuesday, the United Nations had received $717 million from countries around the world for the relief effort, according to cnn.com.
The amount of money donated is almost as unimaginable as the more than 150,000 deaths accounted for so far.
However, this tragedy will soon fade from people’s minds. New stories have already replaced it on the front pages. The shock of photos of the countless white body bags lined up along the bare beaches has diminished. People will forget about the children left with nothing in a world that is cruel to penniless children.
The region of South Asia, including Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, was already known for the trafficking of children for forced slavery and prostitution and has become even more susceptible to those atrocities. In just one region of Indonesia, at least 13,000 children might have become orphans. Even if their parents are alive, they have been separated, and it may take weeks to be reunited with their families.
Luckily, people are aware of the dangers the orphans face; relief workers have set up refugee camps with special, guarded sections for children, they have made it illegal in several countries for anyone to leave the country with a child under the age of 16, and they are working to give the children a sense of normalcy throughout the chaos by teaching school, playing sports and spending time with them.
We find it easy now to have compassion for the children and victims of the tsunami, but in the coming months and years, we will forget. More disasters will demand our attention and money, but the children in South Asia will still be orphans. They will still be vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor.
Please find a way to help, and don’t forget. One thing you can do now is type “children” and “tsunami” in Google, and find many charities helping the children. You can also get involved by coming to International Justice Mission Chapel next Thursday in Administration building Room 219. IJM is a national organization that seeks justice throughout the world through raising awareness, money, and by praying.