The Star Fish Story


The Roman Catholic sisters in Mbare dished out the fortified, nutritional drink mahewu, what food they managed to find and antiseptic creams and other basics donated by pharmacies, some time-expired but effective all the same. (There were politicians who hated this – and even tried to stop it – it was driven by charities, non-government organisations and those traditionally critical of the state – and it implied the Public Health Service could not supply free or cheap date-valid medication for orphans and the malnourished urchin children of the abject poor.)

The Mbare sisters were always inundated There was never enough to go round. Hundreds of children were turned away every day. Wasn’t it rather pointless then? Not for the few who weren’t turned away, the sisters said.

This is called The Starfish Principle:

An old man is walking on the beach one morning
after a storm.
He sees a young woman picking up starfish
and throwing them back into the sea.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the sea?”
“The sun is up and the tide is going out and if
I don’t throw them in they will die.”
“Don’t you see there are thousands of starfish on
the beach? You can’t possibly make a difference.”
She picked up another starfish and threw it
into the sea.
“It made a difference for that one.”


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