• No choice but to persevere

    Posted by Matt

    10 April, 2014

    For me there is no choice as to whether or not to persevere in the fight against global poverty because for the people I advocate for, choice is not a luxury they have.

    Now before you think this is about to be a hard-nosed, "let's go hoo haa, stop whining and pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of call to arms, let me put you at ease. For those of us who care for the poor and marginalised, the last few years in Australia have been long, painful and at times utterly depressing. We have seen promises broken, cries for justice go unheard and what has felt at times to be not just a toughening of policies but a hardening of hearts. 

    So if you would allow me, let me take you to the far West of Nepal, to meet a woman whose perseverance has been the difference between life or death for countless mothers and their babies, so that her incredible story of determination might refuel and restore you to continue in your own advocacy here in Australia.

    Basanti surrounded by the other Child Health Now AmbassadorsBasanti surrounded by the other Child Health Now Ambassadors

    It was early in the morning when Basanti - a ‘Child Health Now‘  Ambassador trained by World Vision to educate and assist mothers in her local community - got the call. A husband had locked his wife – who was now in her second day of labor – in a back room of the house and was forcing her to give birth alone. The woman was screaming out for help and things were getting worse quickly.

    Knowing the couple herself, Basanti was furious and demanded the husband let his wife out, and that an ambulance be sent straight away. He refused. Time was of the essence. Measuring her options, Basanti called for the ambulance and sent it ahead to the village but it would only be able to reach a point that was still 5 kilometres walk from the house. Meanwhile Basanti made her way to the village herself and when she arrived, began to berate the other local men, telling them that unless the husband relented, they would all be held liable for the death of this mother and her baby. Well that changed their apathy! In only minutes, the men had physically entered the room, hoisted the mother and the bed onto their shoulders, and were on their way to meet the waiting ambulance. Thankfully mother and child were both safe, and the husband even thanked Basanti when she later came to visit.

    Here's what I want you to take from this amazing story. 

    For that one mother and her unborn baby trapped in that room, helpless and alone, there are millions of others who need an advocate, someone like Basanti who will stand up for them and not relent, perhaps someone like you?

    And I know it's different living in Australia for the world's poor are not necessarily calling you on the phone with desperation in their voice (as was the case for Basanti) and to advocate for them by meeting with a politician or signing a petition might seem like something far less direct but it's not for we all have our part to play.

    The poor have no choice but to persevere because for them it means survival. So let us act with the same urgency as was required by Basanti, knowing that even if we never meet those who we speak up for, we have stood with them and pleaded their case where they were not able to.


    Matt Darvas was the Political Engagement Intern at Micah Challenge several years back, and now lives with his wife in Nepal working with World Vision on exposure trips to the field.

    You can read more of his blogs here.