Haitian Grace and the Global Food Crisis

I was feeling very bad for myself last week. My car broke down on the side of the road late one night. That same day I had picked up my car from the mechanic. And poor poor me, my husband had taken our other car to the shop that day — so he couldn’t come to my rescue as I froze on the side of the road late at night.

Ricot, my coworker in Haiti, was asking how I was, so I launched into my tale of woe. To Ricot. A Haitian. Who two weeks ago couldn’t go into work because hungry mobs were throwing rocks through the windows of his office. Who, as part of his daily job, visits children who live under scraps of aluminum and eat whatever few bits of food their parents can scrape together that day.

Haitian girl walking homeThe silent tsunami. That’s what they’re calling it. Those living in extreme poverty often spend more than 50 percent of their income on food. When food prices rise 83 percent in three years, as the World Bank estimates they have, it is like a unstoppable wave towering over and crashing down on these precious creations of God (for that is what they are). Those who ate three meals a day, now eat two. Those who ate two, well, it’s hard even to think of it.

And here I am (in my best Valley-Girl voice), “Yeah, my car broke down, and like it’s really hard, ’cause like, my other car is in the shop, and like if I want to go to the mall, I’m going to have to call a friend, and like I just ate 4,000 calories at Carrabba’s last night on like fried zucchini sticks and lasagna, and I’m like so full, and yeah, my life’s pretty hard.”

Ricot, in turn, doesn’t say: “Let me get this straight, I’m living in a country where 8 out of 10 of my countrymen live on around 90 cents — 90 cents! — a day and are eating mud cakes and you’re complaining about how your two cars — two cars! — are giving you trouble?!!!”

No, he didn’t say that. First of all, I don’t think Haitians say, “Let me get this straight” — that’s a little uptight for an islander. Instead he said, “It’s really funny!” (That is me, with two broken cars is really funny.) “I laugh a little bit, but I am so sorry.”

There you go. Grace from a Haitian. I’ve got a lot to learn around here.

The global food crisis is a really complicated issue, involving things such as globalization, trade law, land use, and so on — a lot of stuff that, honestly, is a bit opaque to me. And what in the world can I do about it?

I can learn. I can remember that these aren’t just numbers I’m reading about, but precious children of God. And I can pray.

  • Pray for the world leaders to make wise, sound choices that will honor God’s will on this earth.
  • Pray for the children and families who are right now experiencing the immediate affects of this crisis.
  • Pray for the honest collaboration of governments, organizations, and people to reach out with that cup of water (or rice) that Jesus says his followers will offer to those who are hungry.

12 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Dana November 15, 2009

    What a good reminder of how much we have to be grateful for here. It’s too easy to get caught up in “woe is me” but all it takes is a letter form one of my children, or a glimpse of their pictures, to remind me of just how much I have to be grateful for and how much I take for granted.

  2. Vicki Small May 1, 2008

    My heart broke, not long ago, when I read about the dirt “cookies” many of the poorest Haitians eat to ease the hunger pangs. I need my heart broken often, to counteract the consumerist in me and kick me out of my own pity parties.

    Lord, help me to get over myself, out of myself, and take new steps to make more contacts to reach more people who will release more children from poverty, in Your name!

  3. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Amber Van Schooneveld May 1, 2008

    Hi Joyce, You can also check Haiti’s country news page on Compassion’s web site. An update was posted April 29. Here’s the address:

  4. Joyce T April 30, 2008

    Thank you, Amber, for helping me know how to pray. I have felt so helpless as I read the news, see the photographs, and think of my sponsored teenager in Haiti — who has 10 sibs including a newborn. Please keep on reporting what you know of the situation there, and suggesting ways to pray for the desperate people in Haiti.

  5. Stevi Ferguson April 29, 2008

    Last night, a group of us who were in Honduras in March got together to talk about the transition back to life in the U.S. and the challenges we’ve faced. We decided that it’s OK to feel the tension of knowing the reality of the poverty we saw, while living in the midst of plenty in the U.S. It’s OK to feel uncomfortable, so long as that discomfort moves us to action – whether through prayer, through giving, through going again, or through reaching out to the hurting in our own backyards.

  6. Ian Durias April 29, 2008


    (And you do a really good Valley-Girl voice. Grin.)

  7. Amber Van Schooneveld
    Amber Van Schooneveld April 29, 2008

    Thanks, all–I’m humbled by your comments!

  8. Compassion dave April 29, 2008

    Thank you Amber for that reality check. By the way (and speaking of reality checks), I am really digging “Hope Lives”. I am beginning to think it’s going to be ‘one of those books’ everyone needs to read.

    God bless.


  9. Dionna April 29, 2008

    I wrote a similiar post last week. I had been feeling sorry for myself because of grocery costs when I thought of the little girl I sponsor in Haiti.
    It’s all about perspective isn’t it?

  10. Larry Strohl April 29, 2008

    My son and I just returned from Haiti in March after 9 days there. Let me say to all who think that they understand poverty, please visit Haiti. We helped build a church and also held bible school for the kids. My whole life changed when a woman came up to me and asked if I would be willing to take her child home with me so she wouldn’t starve to death. Another thing that tugs at my heart is holding a child that’s crying from hunger. If you really want to understand the pain and suffering while being blessed at the same time visit Haiti, I beg you do this.
    May you feel GOD beside you.


  11. debra parker April 29, 2008

    I am leaving for Haiti in two days. I cannot even begin to comprehend what I will be taught there.

    Thanks for writing this thought provoking post!

  12. Kelly @ Love Well April 29, 2008

    Amber, I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my heart.

    (I’d let them stream down my face too, but it tends to freak out my four-year-old, and it’s too early in the morning for that.)

    I woke up cranky today, and I’ve spent the better part of the morning declining an invitation to The World’s Greatest Pity Party. My husband’s on another business trip, I’m on my own with the kids, I’m not losing the baby weight as fast as I want, I don’t think spring is ever coming to Minnesota this year, blah, blah, blah.

    In my mind, I know the truths of which you speak.

    But it took your post this morning, with all its authenticity, humor and grace, to really break through.

    Thanks for being the hand of God for me. I’m turning away from the computer refreshed.

    Perspective: it’s what’s for breakfast.

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