Friday, October 3, 2008

Finish Your Food, There Are Starving Children in Africa – October 2

In my case, with being raised by WWII-era-clean-plate-club grandparents, this line has never actually been used. But I’m sure that had it, I would’ve been the smart alec to respond that it doesn’t make a difference to any starving children in Africa if I have leftovers or not. That is…if I wasn’t such a fatty that finished everything on my plate anyways, or if my mother wasn’t such a good cook.

Anyways…the significance of this line really starts to increase when “in Africa” can be replaced with “20 miles away” or even “right outside our incredibly posh coach bus.” Here’s the difference it makes: if you don’t finish your meal, you could potentially give it to the children right outside your window. The boy with the bulging stomach and inflated feet that’s sitting at a distance because he no longer cares if he lives or dies so why should he care if he has friends when he does – he’d probably really appreciate that disgusting excuse of a sandwich, which is really just a piece of mystery meat and cheese between two pieces of dry and moldy (yes – at the same time) white bread. But here’s the bigger issue: if you don’t have enough to give to everybody, you might as well not give out any at all. Lest you be the cause of turmoil between those who received and those who did not. Let me tell you, when you’re forcing your way through a piece of overly dry and crumbly “cake,” staring at children staring back at you, and listening to your tour guide who tells you that you cannot under any circumstances take any food off the bus to offer the children, you’re really going to appreciate every last bite of that terrible piece of cake.

This was the opinion of one tour guide.

On a different tour of a different Cape Town neighborhood, our tour guide did allow us to give away our leftover lunches. This was not the original plan. We were actually supposed to be volunteering with an organization called Operation Hunger, cooking and serving meals to select residents that were so underfed that intervention was the only solution. (Operation Hunger refuses other residents in order to avoid the risk of dependency.) Unfortunately, on the day that we planned to serve, the soup kitchen was temporarily out of money (something about being the last day of the month. …because people only need to be fed at the beginning of each month?) So the group of us trekked back through the muddy roads to our bus, where we gathered all the leftovers we could find. We then set up our own line of food donations.

I have never seen children so well behaved. We asked them to line up single file. The older children immediately took control, directing the younger ones to the front, while staying in the back themselves. They benefitted from the selflessness of this move when the younger children decided to share their rations with the older ones, completely on their own initiative. This was especially necessary because we ran out of food by the time the older children came through the line (despite cutting everything from the apples to the cookies in half). But it didn’t matter, because after receiving their food, everybody tromped over to a small shelter, where they laid it all out and distributed it evenly between the younger and older children. Amazing.

Moral of the story: Finish your beer because there are sober kids in India.

1 comment:

James said...

I finish all my beers. I know there are sober kids in Africa.