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For me, half is not so bad

March 23, 2011

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As soon as I woke up this morning, I had a word in my head: "half." It was just there, waiting for me to consider — and so I've been thinking about it all day.

Today, I turned 41 years old. Or, if you want to be really specific about it, I'll turn 41 in about eight hours (having been born in Colorado at 10:55 P.M. Mountain time). But 41, yeah, I guess that's about as mid-life as it gets — if you're lucky.

And I am fortunate to live here in the United States, where I have enough to eat, clean water to drink and access to health care if I need it. Because, unfortunately, in many of the places where Mercy Corps works, 41 isn't halfway through a person's life — it's when a life is nearly over.

There are 17 countries around the world where the life expectancy is less than 50 years old — 16 are in Africa. Mercy Corps works in five of them:

  • Somalia, where the average life expectancy is 48.2 years (46.9 for men)/li>
  • Zimbabwe, 45.8
  • Afghanistan, 44.6
  • Central African Republic, 44.5
  • Liberia, 41.8

It's a sobering thought that, in Liberia, these could be my last few months. And so, again, I have to say I'm lucky to have what I do: food, health, freedom and relative peace. I have the things that make it possible, at 41 years old, to look forward to the next half of my life.

So I have been thinking about what comes next — and one of my sincerest wishes is, just like I have for the last several years now, I'll be able to continue trying to bring help and hope to places where lives are cut short. To enjoy my family, take time with friends old and new, keep exploring and learning. I hope that I can spend the next half of my life doing even more for those living through dire poverty, disasters and conflict in these crazy times.

And I feel fortunate, each morning I wake up, to be able to do a little something for a world in need — with your help.