The Numbers Don’t Mean Squat

Posted on by More Than Me

This is a guest post from Billy Vierbuchen, a More than Me volunteer that recently joined Katie on the ground in West Point. 

So, the numbers don’t mean shit.

The estimated 75,000 inside this tin hole of huts, the number of dead kids this year, the number that never get out, the number that didn’t eat today and don’t know what they’ll eat later, the little girls that will have to sell themselves, it just doesn’t matter.

The little 3 and 4 year olds are tugging on my pants, and laughing at “white man,” as they call me, and the numbers just don’t matter. Here’s what matters right now: I’m holding a little boy who isn’t well. His big haunting eyes are looking directly into mine, and I don’t even know what to say. Pus is coming out of his eyes, and there’s obvious malnourishment, his mom looks walks over, glassy eyed.  An old man looking on says that mommy dried up, so the boy is sick.  I don’t know what to do.  I tear up as his mom takes him back.  I want to just cry for a minute.  Katie joins us and calls over Macintosh, who will try to find the boy tomorrow in the maze to get him to a medical office.  Mom doesn’t have any money for meds even if the doctor knows what is wrong.

We toured this shantytown, laughing with the kids, Katie dancing around like a nut. There’s so much laughing and I can still see the one kid who just couldn’t catch her breath she was laughing so hard at us crazy white people.  Good stuff.  I can still see us there. We’re walking down the ally now, the 3 or 4 kids we just bought ice cream for quickly turns into 15 kids.  The treats are less then 25 cents each.  We finally say, “no more,” and one of the latecomers is staring at me.  I give him what is left of my ice cream, and he jumps for joy!


Looking around, I see Katie talking to one of the moms whose kid is doing well in school.  And here comes a few of More than Me’s kids in their uniforms, looking cool and proud.  They seem happy. They met us earlier in the day, and seemed to really be having fun in school.  They raised their hands and ran to the board to finish a math problems.  These are some of the 25 percent of the kids that live in West Point who had an opportunity to go to school today. Crazy day.

When we got home, Katie asked me how I was, and I just said that I needed to be alone and cry a little bit, then I’ll be ok.

How can we help, what’s the best way to get our mission done? The numbers are daunting. They don’t mean a thing down here.

Editor’s Note: Macintosh Johnson is no longer employed by More Than Me due to violations against the institutions’ child protection policy. For more information, please refer to MTM’s official press release here.

About More Than Me

More Than Me is on the ground fighting Ebola. We’ve seen results. We were in Liberia before Ebola, we’re here now, and we’ll be here long after to ensure that vulnerable children have choices for their futures.
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