Our old kitchen, a thatched covered 4x8 foot structure
This past Saturday, the 17th, Stanley and I took a trip out to Bright Vision for a meeting with Morias, the foreman who we've hired to build the kitchen that is being sponsored by Evergreen Baptist Church San Gabriel Valley. On the way, we made several stops to purchase food for the Christmas celebration that Evergreen is also sponsoring on Christmas Eve. We bought a couple hundred pounds of rice, a bunch of SOBO drink concentrate, a lot of salt and cooking oil, and a new pot to help cook for so many people. It was good time to spend with Stanley in the car picking things up and driving out to Chamadenga. We got there, unloaded the stuff, and went into our meeting with Morias. The meeting was very good. We put together a plan that has us starting in mid-March and ending in mid April. He seems like a really good guy, competent and honest.
The reason for this blog entry is actually some thoughts from after our meeting. I was sitting outside waiting for Stanley to finish meeting with some of the village heads (Stanley's very diplomatic with these guys even when they are frustrating to deal with). The Saturday feeding program was going on and I was watching hundreds of kids waiting in line for their turn to get food. They let them go to get their hands washed in groups of 20, and from there they head to the line to pick up their bowl of nsima and beans. Well, head to the line is an understatement...they are sprinting to the line! These kids are desperately excited to get food.
They're so excited, that one girl had her food knocked out of her hands onto the ground, twice. I escorted her to the front of the line after the second mishap for a third bowl of food. I resumed my post watching the kids line up to get food. Two small kids of about 5 years old went to the site of spilled-food-#1, and started picking the beans up from the ground and eating them, dirt and all. They were that hungry.
Other kids were eating part of their food, then putting some of it into a container that they could take home. At first I was thinking: "Who's going to eat this food when they leave? They shouldn't be taking it home with them." About two seconds later, I'm thinking "Who cares!? There is no way that we are going to restrict these kids from taking their extra food home with them when they are so hungry." We are getting to that time of year in which families in the village are eating one meal a day, and are fortunate to have something to eat with their nsima (the corn-based mashed-potato-looking stuff that has almost no taste).
My next thought as I surveyed the hundreds of kids there: "Are we doing anything to help this place? These kids are getting meals that will tide them over for several hours, maybe even a day. But this hunger is just going to continue." Stanley said on the way out "We grow maize every year, but the hunger is still with us." I was thinking then, these four hundred or so kids are going to have kids of their own in 15 or twenty years, and there will be more mouths to feed growing up in the same poverty that is existing now.
So needless to say, I was standing there watching these kids, feeling quite helpless. These hundreds of meals are being provided twice a week in the feeding programs, and hundreds more in the nursery school each weekday. I will not allow myself to sink into pessimism or negativity, because with God there is always hope and joy. But it was sobering to watch and think, and then pray about what to do.
I don't have any answers yet, but would appreciate your prayers for wisdom as we go forward. What do we do to meet this massive need? Thanks