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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.