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Death: It’s an Everyday Thing

by Deb Dawson
my dog, Destiny

But, we don’t treat it that way in this country. We recognize our losses in the obituary pages, we celebrate and remember the lives of our loved ones through memorial services, and we mourn. Unusual and tragic deaths are headline news, as are the deaths of leaders and celebrities. Mass murders are reported, investigated, and discussed endlessly on every news station. We continually ponder the primary questions: what causes such horrific events and how can we prevent them?

In the US, we expect death to come to the aged, and most people in our country live long lives. Even our pets enjoy the best medical care money can buy. Two days ago, my husband and I brought our 14-year-old cavalier, Destiny, to the vet to be euthanized. My own heart is heavy with the loss and with the decision I made that her well-lived life, now marked by suffering caused by the rapidly-progressing complications of congestive heart failure, should end. But for the numerous costly medicines we were able to provide her, she would have passed two years ago. The idea that I give my pets care that is unthinkable for most citizens of South Sudan gives me pause even as I grieve for my beloved dog.

In South Sudan death visits at younger ages, and it could often be prevented if there was adequate nutrition, medical care, education about health and hygiene, reduction in tribal conflict, and if Sudan would cease bombing its indigenous African citizens along the border, displacing them from their homes into the south and preventing humanitarian groups from delivering food and medical care.

In 2011, just before independence, South Sudan had about 120 medical doctors and 100 registered nurses to serve a population of eight million people. One in six children born die within their first year of life, and maternal mortality is the highest in the world.

How can we help? Education is the key, and educating girls is the most effective way to ensure the spread of education to all. Educated girls marry later, have fewer, healthier children, and they are able to contribute to the support of their families. There is no middle class without educated women, and it is the middle class that will bring up the standard of living for all.

One girl at a time. African Soul, American Heart (ASAH) is educating future leaders. We are giving orphan girls an opportunity to go to school, to learn practical life skills, and we are protecting them from forced marriage at puberty—a sure path to a short life for the girl and her future children. Visit our website to see how you can help.

About the Author

Deb DawsonDeb Dawson

Deb Dawson is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, businesswoman, teacher, humanitarian, and philanthropist. She holds a B.S. Ed. in Education and English, and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her role as mother to biological, step, and internationally adopted children led her to write When Love is Not Enough, a memoir about the way mothers and daughters forge relationships in the face of tremendous obstacles.


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