“When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24
Most of us love to sleep. We dread the alarm clock that interrupts our blissful 8-hour escape to dreamland. We look forward to weekends when we can catch up and sleep in a bit. As we get older, we appreciate bedtime more.
Children sleeping on the ground in Somalia.
Good sleep protects our health, boosts our immune system, and helps our bodies and brains restore themselves. Most of us live in places where we can lock our doors at night and sleep in relative peace without fear of harm. It’s a blessing we often take for granted.
I was reminded of this while touring an exhibit at Medical Teams International yesterday. Visitors are invited to step inside tents and shelters that serve as homes for people in places like Haiti and Uganda. Imagining the discomfort of sleeping on the ground with six people in a tent was troubling, but what disturbed me the most was thinking about the insecurity these families must feel when darkness falls.
They have no doors to lock, and a plastic tarp offers no protection from potential intruders.
During an interview last summer, a South Sudanese widow named Rebecca told us she is haunted by memories of hiding in the bush at night with her children when their village was attacked. “The memories of war … there are many,” she said. Those memories have become nightmares now and she has trouble sleeping. “Thank God I am alive. That day was horrible.”
A little boy sleeps on his mother's lap as she rests on the long walk from Somalia to refugee camps in Kenya.
In Somalia, families fleeing violence and famine travel by foot for weeks in search of food and water. About 80% of them are traveling without a male companion. They sleep outside in the open air. Many women are raped along the way, or even after they reach the refugee camps in Kenya. In spite of this, one mother told us, “I will sleep better at night, knowing my children have something to eat in the camp.”
Those who have survived a sudden disaster, like the earthquake in Haiti, often sleep lightly with one eye on the door and are jolted awake by the slightest sensation of shaking. Others living in crowded tent cities for months fear the danger of intruders. Families who have received new homes from World Concern are grateful to have doors and windows, they tell us.
A family who lost their home in the Haiti earthquake sits on the bed inside their tent.
Being able to sleep is one of blessings of having a home.
Tonight, when you crawl into bed, take a moment to thank God for the gift of a good night’s sleep and say a prayer for those who don't have this.