Opinion: Flip a switch to shine a light on malnutrition

Lucy Dustman, Staff Writer

My family and I walked through a dark, musty hall into a classroom where we were welcomed by young boys and their teacher. The young monks wore orange tunics that covered their thin arms and legs. Their heads were shaved and shined brightly under the low light as they looked with curiosity and shyness across the room.

During that visit last February to the Friendship Association For Cambodian Child Hope, I learned that most of the boys I had met in that classroom were not young; instead, the majority were near the age of 20. I found this astonishing as I figured that they were below the age of 10.

The teacher informed me that the boys had suffered in their early ages from malnutrition and a lack of clean water. Luckily, with the help of their community, they were brought into the school on a full scholarship to learn and become stronger individuals. With the help of this school, they were also physically cared for and are now survivors of a terrible, global problem that many others in developing countries endure as well.

It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) that nearly 2.5 billion people lack access to clean water and sanitation. Sadly, this type of knowledge is not widespread, so even those of us who do know, do not have the means to do something about it, or are not active because its effects are not felt directly.

Without knowledge and education about what is going on around us, people are dying from problems that Seabury students could help improve.

Students are not taking action and trying to understand what is happening around them because most of them believe that their lives are pretty amazing. We sometimes take for granted our comfortable homes; we have lights when we flip a switch and clean water when we turn the tap.

Due to this, most students are oblivious to the magnitude of the problem and do not realize that there are tens of millions other people out there who are not as privileged as they are.

All people should have a life where their fundamental human needs are met. Students have to help those who are struggling.

Many think that there is already a solution: humanitarian organizations.

While many humanitarian organizations do good work, they cannot take care of “780 million people [who] do not have access to an improved water source” alone (CDCP).

Seabury Hall can be a part of the solution even though the problem is far away from them. Students have the capability of helping others live healthy and sustainable lives.

I believe that, with support and education, we can make a difference. Engaging ourselves and taking an active part in giving our energy to community-based and humanitarian projects will be time well spent. If Seabury Hall students strive to learn about current crises occurring in developing countries, they can be an effective and powerful part of the solution.

“Every day, over 800 children die from preventable diseases caused by poor water, and a lack of sanitation and hygiene,” as summarized by UNICEF.

Without knowledge and education about the issue, students like you and me, cannot help and assist other children, like the Cambodian monks. We have to make an effort to learn on our own, until others teach us.

Everyone deserves a life. Schools, including Seabury Hall, need to implement curriculum that teaches students about global issues on a weekly or monthly basis so that they understand what is happening around them and will be inspired to become a part of the solution.