Tag Archives: hunger season

only when food is plentiful

I eat what I eat. Don’t make eating complicated. Rules are made only when food is plentiful; in times of famine, one eats what one can get. — Hari Dass

Most of us cannot even conceive of a time when food isn’t plentiful. We are among the blessed of the global family who have always had plentiful food. We are the well-fed minority.

The vast majority of the world knows from painful, and all to often deadly, experience that there are times when food is anything but plentiful. Sometimes food is so scarce that you are forced to watch loved ones suffer a slow and agonizing decline from lack of food. In many parts of the world there is actually a “Hunger Season,” the time before harvest when food is so scarce that prices for basic sustenance climb so high that most cannot afford the luxury of more than a simple meal once a day, if that.

But when food is plentiful we play with it. We get creative with it. We take it for granted. We waste it.

When food is plentiful we become picky eaters. We have so many food choices we continually search for new and more exotic varieties and combinations. We now have an entire entertainment industry focused on food. That can only happen when food is plentiful.

There are many of us that now live to eat rather than eat to live. That can happen only when food is plentiful.

When food is plentiful we could end hunger forever. We could share with those sit in the shadow of famine and create a word where food is available to all.

We can change the world forever by ending hunger in our lifetime. That can happen only when food is plentiful.

Old Fangak field report

Stop Hunger Now works in dozens of countries around the world. Our implementing partners are dedicated and caring folks who are committed to helping the poor and hungry.

Old Fangak in South Sudan is the most remote and difficult place we work. The need there is immense and the challenges are almost unimaginable. But, by working together we are making real difference. Here is a report we received this past week from Gretchen Stone, a volunteer nurse working with Dr. Jill Seaman in the village.

Subject: Feeding issues

Lots of people here are hungry.  It’s the end of the dry season, which means the harvest finished about 4 months ago.  Old Fangak and its surrounding villages are normally home to 5000 souls. The resurgent civil war has meant a population boom of 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs), most of whom arrived about a year ago.  You can imagine what that does to the food supply.  World Food Program provides food for IDPs, but WFP has its own issues. They were supposed to fly a month’s worth of food in this week, but emailed that they would be here April 7 instead–to which Jill wrote a very tactful letter saying she knows how challenged they must be, and how hungry folks are here–please don’t take this merely as a scheduling problem–and now they are coming on Tuesday!

But the feeding issues closest to home often sit right in our laps.

Many of the IDPs are big city folks.  You can tell by the way they dress.  Sometimes they have cell phones (no reception here, but they still play music) or fingernail polish. Women wear outfits that match, and often wigs with hundreds of tiny braids, and dangly gold earrings.

In the big city, they see doctors who tout infant formula in place of breast milk.  The market here no longer has bread for sale, let alone infant formula. The other day, a regal woman with her so-cute-you-want-to-eat-him three month old presented with an official letter from the commissioner, asking that we give her formula. Pity.  We explained that breast is best, and we can’t provide formula, but we could offer her some fortified milk powder to improve her supply.  She was not impressed.

Yesterday, a scrawny, shriveled 2 1/2 month old appeared.  His healthy-looking mom explained that his jaw wouldn’t grasp her nipple properly.  He weighed in at 2 kg even. His facial shape and muscle tone indicate a congenital problem, which we are woefully unable to diagnose, let alone do much about. Jill explained that this is “from God”.  We tried a bottle, but found that dribbling milk into his mouth with a syringe worked best.  They went home with a tub of milk powder.  We are not at all confident that he will live to finish it.

Then came the little sweetheart, with a child health card saying “Feeding problem. Refer Old Fangak.”

Her feeding problem?  When this kid was 4 days old, her mum was bitten by a cobra, and died.  Grandma spoon-fed her milk for 3 months–but then the cow died as well!  It had taken a week from the time the referral was written for Grandma to walk the 12 hours, with babe in this basket on her head, to request help.  We figured that was one of the better justifications for infant formula.  She went home with a bottle, mosquito net and blankets as well.

Now we have one tub left.  What baby out there needs it most?

“And flesh and blood so cheap!”

 

Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. – Lamentations 4:9

The words of the Prophet Jeremiah echo loudly today as we witness the brutality and senseless violence in South Sudan. The echoes can be heard in the headlines as the world’s leading relief providers have already started warning of an even uglier tragedy beginning to unfold in that young and reeling nation.

Famine is coming to South Sudan. Unless immediate response is mounted we are being told to expect the starvation, not of dozens of children, not of  hundreds of children, not of thousands of children, but to prepare for the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of innocent South Sudanese children.  These are the children who will  starve to death within the next six months, pierced by hunger, unless we act to prevent it.

Already malnourished and weakened, these children cannot survive the agony of their life draining away as it will during the hunger season. Once the rains begin the hope of these children, the life of these children, will wash away.

I am reminded of the words of Thomas Hood, the 18th century English poet. In The Song of the Shirt he wrote:

“Oh, God! That bread should be so dear!
And flesh and blood so cheap!”