Humanity chose Notre Dame over starving children



Notre Dame in Paris, France, as seen from the Seine river. The cathedral’s roof and spire burned down in a fire last month.

Colleen Ford is the Web Editor for The Easterner. The opinion expressed in this article is her own, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Easterner’s editorial board.


It turns out that humanity can fix world issues—it’s just that we don’t want to.

Notre Dame almost burned to the ground two weeks ago. The 850-year-old cathedral had hearts breaking all over the world as people watched the spire fall into flames and smoke billow into the Parisian air.

Almost immediately, thousands of people across the world donated money to help the church rebuild after the costly accident.

But did the Cathedral deserve it?

In just two days, over $1.1 billion was donated to the church. The damage will cost about $8 billion to repair, according to Reuters. People just like you and me gave money simply because they believed that this church, this iconic monument of humanity’s courageousness through strife, was a worthy enough cause to sacrifice a few dollars.


The harsh reality

Here are some other things that happened in the past few weeks.

In the time that it took for Notre Dame to burn, nearly 5,400 children died of starvation, according to Mercy Corps’ statistics on world hunger.

In the span of one day, while the world watched the flames lick the stones of the great cathedral, an average of six refugees died trying to cross the Mediterranean. Just ask the U.S. High Commissioner of Refugees: that statistic lasted throughout 2018.

Flint residents in Michigan passed their five-year mark of living with contaminated water.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which has grown to twice the size of Texas, continued to expand—after all, there is only so much The Ocean Cleanup crews can do with patchy funding.

And, since you started reading this article, another three children died from hunger.


Colleen Ford
These to-scale graphics represent the areas where we see large funds being appropriated. Notice how the cost to repair Notre Dame is four times greater than the cost to repair an entire country’s worth of cyclone damage.

We already have the solutions

There are many world crises that can be fixed if our funds were redirected to more suitable locations.

It would cost $30 billion to end world hunger each year, according to the Borgen Project; Congress spent $734 billion on defense in 2012 alone.

The cost to renovate the PUB was $40 million, according to EWU’s website. It would cost $30-$40 million to feed every homeless veteran in the U.S. three square meals a day for two weeks, according to Forbes. Three square meals a day for two weeks can mean the difference between life and death, but at least we have a new Panda Express.

Microsoft reported earning a revenue of $30 billion in its last quarter of 2018 alone; the company surpassed $100 billion for the whole year. It would cost a mere $2 billion to repair the damage done to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi after Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in March. The storm killed over 600 people and resulted in over 4,000 cases of cholera. People are dying.


The call

I’ve been to Notre Dame; I’ve sat in the pews and prayed, wondering if my grandmother ever did the same when she lived in Paris so long ago. I know that the church has heard countless prayers rise through its scaffolding, and I wonder how the church would feel if she knew that people valued her brick and stone more than the lives of starving children.

As a society, we command our leaders to make changes to the world, and we blame them when the results aren’t satisfactory.

But over $1 billion was raised by people who took it upon themselves to save something that they were passionate about.

We obviously can fix the issues in the world we care about, so just act on your passions and do it yourself.


Here are some nonprofits that are working to fix our problems.

The Ocean Cleanup is spearheading the movement to clean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Action Against Hunger, Stop Hunger Now and CARE all work to end world hunger.

UNICEF has set up a site where patrons can donate to help repair damages from Cyclone Idai. finds nonprofits in your city and directs you to resources to help them.