Tornadoes, Bin Laden and Development Work

The last few days have revealed the frailty of human life. We have seen the lives of the people in the south devastated by the wrath of nature. With the death of Osama bin Laden, we have seen the end of a different kind of wrath, the wrath of an ideologically evil man, whose efforts changed the world forever. I remember vividly 9/11. I was in my church office when the news broke of the twin towers attacks. One of our nursery school teachers ran out of the office that morning, because she had family in the twin towers. He was never found. Both events, tornadoes and the work of Al Qaeda that dark day 10 years ago, hit without warning and without sparing those in their path.

I have been privileged to have the opportunity for the past 5 years to try and work with a different kind of killer and monster. Extreme poverty seldom makes headlines or grabs attention. The poor are almost always forgotten. Eradicating it seems impossible, especially when corruption within the government robs even the dollars given to alleviate it. Poverty is not sensational enough, but I would submit that the cost in human terms of global poverty is greater in numbers and devastation than the havoc that rained down from the heavens last week; and from the evil human ideology and heart 10 years ago on 9/11. Children in Haiti routinely die for the lack of a simple cup of clean water. In Haiti cholera continues to steal innocent lives. In Haiti people are still living in unimaginable human squalor well over a year since another cataclysmic upheaval of mother nature on January 12, 2010. The rubble from the earthquake has still not been removed. To a people already destitute, the very foundations under their feet threw a poor people into an even greater dismay.

People who strive to help in Haiti invariably have one of two things happen to them. They either give up in the face of the futility or the enormity of the task, or they find themselves in a much deeper experience of love than they ever thought possible to find. The Haitian people win your heart. But the cost of the work wears at your strength. A battle ensues for the soul of those engaged. You either give up, or you stay the course and make small amounts of progress. Small in the eyes of the world, but huge in the eyes of those you help. And as with all good works, you are the one who is changed by virtue of staying the course. If their world is only slightly changed, your world is forever changed.

In my experience it is worth the effort. I invite you to join the iF Foundation as we seek to take on the monster that is poverty. Let us remember the people down south who lost so many loved ones, and the people whose family were taken from them on 9/11 by a beast. Let us give thanks for the brave men and women who protect us while we sleep and pursue our dreams. And let us not forget the people of Haiti in their centuries old struggle to just have a glimpse of the dignity they so richly deserve.

The Rev. Canon James E. Byrum

Managing Director, the iF Foundation

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4 Responses to “Tornadoes, Bin Laden and Development Work”

  1. Bill Yanson May 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Outstanding observation, Jim. Most Americans have no idea of the grinding poverty which consumes most of the world painfully, day by day. And–thankfully, for us–most Americans are spared the sort of anguish which is routine to most people in our world. Hopefully, when anguish does impinge upon us–either directly or indirectly–let us be reminded not only to care for those nearest and dearest to us most directly affected by singular events, but also be reminded of the poverty and anguish which most in the world suffer–especially the children, so dear to our Lord–every day.


  2. Ariane Ludecke May 8, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    One again, your article is very nice

    • fatherB May 12, 2011 at 11:59 am #

      Dear Ariane,

      How thoughtful of you to take the time to make a comment. I am grateful and thankful for your doing so.

      Fr. Byrum

  3. fatherB May 12, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Dear Bill,

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. We keep working as best we are able, and God blesses the work and our lives. My love to Anne and thanks again for reading and caring and commenting. So like you!

    Fr. B

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