She Is Hungry

She didn’t eat yesterday.

The little girl told me that as we sat with her and her mother under a mango tree. The fruit was not ripe yet, and still sat high and green and out of her reach.

Just behind the house, a few rows of corn grew. But they didn’t belong to her family. She could see them every day. But they were out of her reach.

I feel like every week I write about children who “went to bed hungry.” And they did. But right then, I sat before a little girl who literally went to bed less than 24 hours ago with nothing to eat.

I tried to imagine the tiny bit of hunger I’ve felt in my life, magnified. That small ache after missing a meal turned into deep pain after missing one, two, three meals. The slight ache when I take my lunch late turned into a pounding, relentless headache when late turns into never.

I couldn’t imagine it. But this little girl doesn’t have to imagine it. She lives it.

She is hungry when she walks past the market, her pockets empty.

She is hungry when her neighbors light up their braziers at night while her family’s remains cold.

She is hungry while fresh fruits and vegetables are in her sight, but not on her table.

As we left that night, we hauled a bag of rice out of the back of our van. Her mother bowed her head, thanking us over and over. And I knew that when this little girl visited the child development center, she would receive a meal. And that the center workers would watch her carefully, and at the first sign of malnutrition, she would be treated.

Those things are not out of her reach.


She walked slowly out of her classroom, her face turned towards the ground. Her shoulders hunched up around her ears, the ragged sleeves of her dress nearly reaching her elbows.

“What’s wrong with her?” I asked the group around me. They stopped the girl, and French phrases passed much too quickly for me to keep up. Finally, someone translated for me.

“She can’t pay her school fees, so they’re sending her home.”

That’s when I noticed the headmaster, moving from class to class, a list in his hands. Those were the children who hadn’t paid their fees. He was calling them to the front of their class and asking for the school’s money. And if they didn’t have it, they were sent home.

Read the rest of the entry at I’m Just Sayin’

6 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Caitlin May 20, 2009

    I apoliogize for the length on this one.

    One of the things that buzzes constantly in the back of my head is that both of the kids are from large families (6 and 7 kids), the girl has two other siblings in Compassion, the boy has none, and while I know that my kids are getting at least one meal a day, and sometimes food packets sent home for the weekends, I wonder about the rest of the family. I’ve read among these Compassion blogs that often times, when food is sent home for the child for a week, it is split among the family, and consumed in roughly a day. And also,

    From the blog “Silent Tsunami”

    Silent Tsunami
    Approximately 95 percent of Compassion-assisted children are feeling the effects of the [global food] crisis. Many are living on one meal a day — receiving it at their child development centers — and struggling with feelings of guilt and sadness because their family members don’t receive the same benefit.

    I can understand that sort of guilt. I too come from a family of six kids, and being the oldest, have often sacrificed my portion for my siblings, or split a special treat, that was given specifically to me, 8 ways. Not to say that I understand painful hunger, I just understand the obligation and attachment to family. I would do the same.

    Another post (that I can’t seem to locate) talked about how many families in Haiti are so comfortable in the lives they live, even though they are starving, rather than take advantage of the vocational training opportunities, the parents will just wait for donations and family gifts.

    Now, this whole long thing buzzes at the back of my minds because for my two kids, their families, though for the most part I know nothing about them, are my families…I want to be contributing something to the welfare of the family that would not only help them now, but give them a foot up towards helping themselves. I send family gifts, but I assume they will be used for immediate needs, and I cannot blame them. What I want to know is, does anyone have a creative suggestion about how to send “Fishing lessons” across the globe, rather than just handing “leftovers” to parents?

  2. Sara Benson May 16, 2009

    Hearing statistics does not compare to meeting and hearing the story of a real live person who is goign to bed hungry.

    How many of us forget the reality of the one person behind the campaigns for the millions who are starving.

  3. Amy Wallace May 15, 2009

    I spend almost 5x more on a movie ticket than what her tuition costs…yikes.

  4. Mike Stephens May 15, 2009

    This probably isn’t a perfect analogy but I was thinking it is kind of like waiting too long to pay a speeding ticket b/c you don’t have the cash. The result is you end up paying more and possibly going to jail. As with not being able to attend school, you often end up having to pay more in the long run than if you could have payed ($2.40 in this case) early on.

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

  5. Vicki Small May 15, 2009

    Ever since I became involved with Compassion, 6-1/2 years ago, I’ve heard that many children who should be in school cannot go, because their parents cannot afford the tuition. I think I have assumed that the tuition was some huge amount, and now…this.

    Two dollars and forty cents–nothing, to us. To a child in poverty, it’s the world.

    Five loaves, two fish–lunch for one boy, but in the right hands, more enough to feed more than 5,000 people. Jesus makes all the difference.

  6. Mike Stephens May 15, 2009

    It is amazing how so little can mean so much! Thanks for sharing!!!

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