Listen to a Grammy Award winner's song about world hunger. It's simply stunning.

A haunting plea.

In 1993, four-time Grammy Award winner and British-Nigerian singer Sade released a song called "Pearls," and it's become one of her most enduring hits.

But did you know this song is about a woman and child living in the 1992 Somali famine?


Sade rocks out. Photo by Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images.


That fact flies by some because one doesn't really need to listen to the words Sade sings to get the effect of her music.

The main character in Sade's story is picking "pearls" off the side of the road. These aren't actual pearls but grains of rice that have fallen off relief trucks passing by her. To her, they are as precious as pearls because in her life, they are just as rare. Mothers in Somalia's food situation are forced to live a life where they can't just pop over to the supermarket to get some food.

Here's what the lyrics in "Pearls" mean:

Somalia has had three separate famines in the last 25 years: In 1992, from 2010-2012, and in 2014.

The famine (a period of extreme hunger) Sade is singing about claimed 220,000 lives in 1992. The 2010-2012 famine claimed another 260,000, and in 2014, the death toll of the ongoing war caused partially by Somalia's hunger problems is still climbing.

As of September 2013, there were more than 1.1 million Somalis displaced internally and nearly 1 million refugees living in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Yemen.

The population of Somalia is 10.5 million; a tenth of the country is displaced from their homes without their choosing. That's a lot of people.

You know how many? 125 football stadiums of people.

One-third of Somali children are underweight.

According to the World Health Organization, 32.8% of Somali children younger than 5 are underweight and malnourished. America and other countries have been sending aid to Somalia since 1993, but still the problem has persisted. For every 1,000 Somali children, about 146 won't make it to age 5.

It's hard for people in drought and famine situations to even think about the situation they're in day in and day out.

This one is a little less fact-based, so I'm going to ask you to use your imagination: You know when you get a new pair of dress shoes and the leather is crisp, stiff, and unwrinkled ... you almost don't want to wear them yet because they're so doggone perfect? And then you put them on and walk out the door, and you already have blisters on the edges of your feet and want to take them off? This is what I think Sade means.

What can we all can do to help?


Somali refugees in Kenya after fleeing the 2011 famine. Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

All this time, I never thought about what I should do. She's speaking about a problem — hunger in Somalia — that has been a problem since I was 10. I'm 32 now.

  • Keep up with what's going on in Somalia by visiting Oxfam. (If you scroll to the bottom of this page, there is news about what they're doing to help.)

  • You can donate to Oxfam or UNICEF, if you'd like.

  • Most important: Be vocal, share news and articles about it, and keep it fresh on peoples' minds. If we aren't talking about a problem, how are we going to help fix it?
More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular