The Largest Eyes I’ve Ever Seen

The suffering in our world overwhelms me. That’s why I work for World Concern. It helps to be part of a team that is doing something to make things better—one person, one family, one village at a time. Still, there are times while researching and writing that all I can do is pray over and over again, “Lord Jesus, have mercy.”

I didn’t know much about what was happening in Yemen until it came to the forefront of everyone’s mind with recent events and news. I was asked to research and write about the children and families there whose suffering is—as impossible as I thought this could be—more extreme than anything I have ever seen. Declan Walsh brought the mystery of Yemen into full view in his New York Times’ article on October 26 and it was so powerful we all had to acknowledge the reality of the situation.

I was almost afraid to read Walsh’s article. As I read, I prayed that simple prayer for God’s mercy. Then I needed to download some of the emotion it brought up before I could continue my work. So I did that in the best way I know how—by writing about it. The following is what I wrote after seeing the images of these precious children and their parents.

Children of Yemen

The children of Yemen have the largest eyes I have ever seen. Yet on second glance, the size of their eyes is actually an illusion because their faces are so thin. Every part of their bodies is, in fact, diminished. Except those eyes. Their skeletal bodies lay passively, while those eyes peer out at the world, silently begging for help.

The world does not know about these children. If we did, how could we do nothing? Or maybe it’s just too unbearable to see them. To admit that there is suffering like this in the world. To admit that we could allow this to happen to children. For the sake of power. For the control of a port. For shipping lanes. For ideologies I don’t comprehend.

I want to look away from these photos, but something draws me back. I cannot escape searching those eyes for a will to fight. I feel as helpless as the little boys who shoot at the Middle Eastern sky with their pretend AK-47s. But little boys do not know they are helpless. In their minds, they are fighting the enemy. They practice their aim to one day shoot down the bomber that flies overhead and drops death on their families. The one that killed their father and their older brother. The one that made their mother cry.

These boys are the lucky ones. The ones where help got through. The children still eating a meal each day so they can run and play, and pretend to fight. Pretend that they will have the victory.

The other ones—with their ever-enlarging eyes—live in places where help was blocked. Sacks full of grain sit on barges in the harbor of their city, refused permits to unload. Trucks loaded down with rice have no fuel to deliver their cargo. Storehouses stacked with supplies were bombed the month before.

It has been too long since they have eaten. Too long since they had the strength to run and play. The fight has nearly gone out of them now. They turn their faces to the wall. Their ribs, tightly wrapped with skin on bone, heave up and down. Their limbs curl up as if returning to an embryonic state.

Their eyes are all that speak now, slowly blinking and staring. No sound comes through their voice. Their tears dried up along with their mother’s milk. Even she does not cry anymore. She just sits in silence, and watches death take her child. She has no power to fight this enemy, but she will not turn her eyes away. In this war, hers is the most courageous act of all. 

More than 130 children are dying from starvation each day in Yemen. Click here to find out how you can help.

Published by

Elizabeth Griffin

Elizabeth Griffin is the Senior Writer for World Concern.