Whenever you see a child smile, it always brings a smile to your face.
Whenever you see a child cry, it just breaks your heart.
Hunger kills more people every year than AIDs, malaria or tuberculosis combined. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five ~ World Food Programme hunger statistics
I am not crusading to end world hunger nor am I starting a debate here on the economics of the distribution of food and wealth, although that would be such a lofty dream. I am simply doing my part and sharing my blessings to those who need it the most in my own backyard. In the wise words of the late Mother Theresa, “if you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
It was a bright sunny day at Talisay City, Cebu when we met a hundred or so kids around lunchtime. These kids were Sunday school students of a classmate in nursing school. She helped facilitate this mini feeding project as she knows them pretty well and their church also has a lot of programs for the indigent and needy families in the area. She was looking for a sponsor for the kids, be it monetary donations or used clothing or a feeding project. When I heard about it, I jumped in at the opportunity. I believe in giving back to those in need, specially the children.
Now where does the $125 fit in? It came in the form of McDonald’s lunch packs, chicken with rice and a soft drink. Yes, McD’s in the Philippines sell chicken AND rice, among other local favorites. One hundred lunch packs were ordered for one hundred children. Now before someone criticizes me for giving away McDonald’s, considered to be the number one cause of obesity in America, let me first tell you that these kids (and their parents) can barely afford a meal at McDonald’s or any fast food joint for that matter. Obesity? Hardly! I don’t know if they can even eat three times a day. So, THIS is considered a luxurious treat for them. They were told to wait for us at the city’s abandoned wet market. The space was big and clean and could accommodate the group safely. It was situated right above the river where most of these children lived with their families in shanties and shacks. They are called squatters, informal dwellers who do not own the land they built their houses on. Other than the fear of being evicted anytime by the real land owner or the government and face the risk of having their homes destroyed, they also live precariously beside this river that could swell and flood anytime the monsoon season begins. And it has in fact, swept away homes and lives in the past. As bleak as their situations may be, they were waiting for us smiling and eager to interact. The older ones even helped manage this young crowd. Two lines were formed, boys and girls as they received their lunch packs. As the lines progressed, I could see more women and mothers with their children coming and running to make it to the lines, hoping they can still have a meal. But only the Sunday school kids were counted so the rest, unfortunately were turned down. I wished we had more! It was a day my husband and I will never forget. He told me it was a very good idea to do this before we came back to America. Sometimes, you just tend to forget your blessings. You take them for granted. Only in situations like this are you reminded of how much you should be grateful for and only in situations like this tell you that nothing sounds so sweeter than a child’s “thank you”.
My heart ached every time I looked at them. The first few moments when we arrived, I had to fiercely hold back my tears. I thought I couldn’t go through with it. But, look at them, here. All smiles. Such innocence! It may not be much, what we did. We certainly were unable to provide for everyone in the area, for that I feel sorry for the mothers and children who went home empty handed and hungry. I know that this is not the most sustainable and practical way to help out. Dole outs are never the answer but I am just one person in the sea of millions of people suffering out there. I will leave the educating and empowering to the more experienced organizations and groups.
I am advocating though for those who have the heart and the means to help to give back to society, to that struggling single working mother two doors down your apartment, to those who lost their homes in a fire/tornado/hurricane, to that elderly man who lives alone in his tiny home, to our brothers and sisters across the globe who are victims of political and religious oppression, to the children who are starving and are left as orphans. Before I start sounding like a United Nations commercial, yes, giving back does not mean giving thousands of dollars. It can be as simple as giving a warm meal to that struggling mother, used clothes for the fire victims, a helping hand to that elderly man, prayers for those across the globe. Start small, start within your own backyard. You will be amazed at how people respond to you and you will be richer in your hearts as well.
This was the best $125 ever spent!!!