Friday, May 2, 2014
“Bread, soup - these were my whole life. I was a body. Perhaps less than that even: a starved stomach. The stomach alone was aware of the passage of time.” ― Elie Wiesel, “Night”
When May 1st falls on a Thursday, Friday becomes a school holiday as well. The rest of the country goes back to work, but school is out. This is a problem that really bothers me. We feed our kids when they are here for school and, for many, it is the only meal of the day for them. Many of them will now go four days without any real food. The extended family or village that cares for them will give them perhaps one banana every other day, so they don’t starve, but they come back sick and thin. We have worried with this every way but loose and have come to no solution. The teachers are willing to come, and the cook is willing to fix the meals, but the families will just not allow the children to come. For many, the child that comes here is just one of many children of that family and to let one come to school and eat makes the others jealous and the parents angry. We try to send fruit home with them the day before holidays, but we have no idea if it is eaten right away (probably) or taken away from them when they get home (also likely). Easter week is especially troubling as they are away for nine days, and some are too sick to return. We can only do so much, but it is hard for me to eat when I know that those cute, cute kids are going hungry. The problem of sending food home is major as we have no control what happens to it, and offering food here when half-brothers and half-sisters are hungry at home is no solution either. Knowing what the right thing to do is not hard—doing it is hard, especially when the culture fights against it. There is no sight that bothers me as much as a hungry child. My only consolation is knowing that in Arusha, those kids are eating every day, holiday or not. Sometimes, all we can do is pray—and pray we do. The kids know we love them and they know that get food, love, caring, and education here. No matter how long the holiday lasts, it doesn’t last forever and they will be back on Monday laughing, singing, eating, and learning. I live for Monday and pray all the time in between. Join me.