Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

February 1, 2010

Hunger in Haiti

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

The images of hungry children in Haiti bring back vivid memories.  As I have watched via television, the children holding small containers and lining up for food following the earthquake has renewed old emotions from my days in Haiti.

Over 30 years ago I recall seeing similar scenes.  At that time the world focused on Bangladesh, known for its poverty and starvation.  True, it was having the largest number of deaths from starvation of all the nations in the world, but Haiti was experiencing the largest number of deaths per capita.

Up in the mountains where I was spending my time, there was a small feeding station for the hungry children.  Everywhere you looked the scene of malnutrition was obvious.  The children with bloated stomachs, the clumps of hair turning red, and a general weakness of their small bodies.  One of the world food agencies provided some help.  They would give a sack of grain a week for the community.  This grain would be mixed with water, much like a mash fed to chickens.  It had no taste and looked much like oatmeal.

The feeding was at 11 o’clock each day. This was the one and only meal for them.  The children would line up outside the small home used as a feeding station.  It was one of the few frame buildings.  Most of the homes were made from mud and straw.  This house had once belonged to a witch doctor, but had been abandoned.  In one room there was a large hole in the floor which  appeared to have been a dry well in the ground some ten feet deep.  I was told that this had been the disposal pit of animals and other items that had been used in  voodoo practices.  It was a blessing that this place was available and could be used for good purposes.

The heart-wrenching scene was to see the children line up with their small tin containers, bowls, or whatever type container they could find.  The line was formed much before 11 o’clock.  Because of the limit of mash available, only the first 100 children could be given a small amount.  The man at the door allowing the children to pass through to get a scoop of mash in their container would count the children. When 100 had passed through the door, he would turn the others away.  Their disappointment caused some to react.  The man actually held a long switch in his hand and would wave it to threaten the children to go on back home.  I wanted to do something, but there was nothing I could do.  It is not a scene that you ever forget.

Do you know that the hunger problem in Haiti has not changed?  Even before the devastating earthquake, hunger has been prevalent through the years.  It has been reported that 25% of the children die before they reach 5 years of age.  Through the news sources coming out of Haiti these days, we have become aware of the mud cookies  eaten to combat hunger.  The yellowish dirt from the central plateau is mixed with some salt and shortening.  This has almost become a staple for many children.

And now the problem of hunger is mulitplied because of the earthquake.  Most of us cannot identify with hunger, especially as we see it in Haiti.  Yes, I know, it also exists this bad in locations in Africa, and other parts of the world.  Even here in our country there is hunger.  But certainly it cannot be seen more visibly than we are seeing via television these days from Haiti.

There must be empathy . . . and perhaps more!

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat . . . .”  ” Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you . . . ?”     ” . . . whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:35, 37, 40)



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