Every 6 Seconds

Everyone up! Time to start the day! “What’s for breakfast?” On the way to school, “What did you pack for me in my snack and in my lunch?” After dropping daughter off, son says, “When we get home, may I have a snack?” We leave the house for a play date or running errands. “Did you pack me a snack?” We get home. “May I have a snack?” We pick daughter up from school. “Did you bring me a snack? What is it?” We do homework, play, watch a little TV. “Hey, Mom, what’s for dinner?” I answer. Then, “May I have a snack?” Pause five minutes. “I’m still hungry.” No more snacks, dinner will be ready soon. “I’m so hungry. I’m famished. When is dinner going to be ready?” We eat dinner, wash dishes, practice piano, play with the puppy, take a bath. As we are getting pajamas on, “I’m hungry. May I have a snack?”
Does that sound familiar or am I just living in snack hell? It really and truly gets to the point where I think I’m making a snack every six seconds, where I spend a fair amount of my day worrying about food. Do I have enough in the house to feed these creatures? Is it healthy? Are we making smart choices about when, what, and how much we eat? Are we heading toward obesity? Or eating disorders? Do we eat from boredom, comfort, or pure physical need? After all, they are growing children, right?
As aggravating as this is, I paused this morning to thank God for it. We are truly blessed… beyond our wildest dreams. Food scarcity is so far from our realm of reality that I think the cupboards are bare when I don’t have a head of lettuce in the fridge. We are rich with food. Food millionaires! When we lived in London, I loved grocery shopping at Marks and Spencer because the stores were small and they sold only one brand, their own. That is the attraction of Trader Joes here in the states. Walking into Costco or Safeway is complete food overload for me. We have plenty.
I got to thinking about this today because I was reading the journal Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom wrote about their trip to Africa this past November. In it, Wendy describes her visit to the Tanzania Christian Clinic where she encountered two severely malnourished three year old boys. One of the boys was brought to the clinic by his father, an alcoholic who had lost everything. His wife had left with the baby, leaving 5 other children behind. The boy was the youngest of those 5 and didn’t have the size, strength, or age to fight his brothers and sisters for the meager food they were able to find. Wendy gave him a packet of fruit snacks and a blow up beach ball which brought a smile to his face. The other boy was orphaned and living with his grandmother who had no goats or cows to sell to buy food for her grandson. This boy was also suffering from malaria and Wendy said it was pitiful to watch him sit on the grass staring and whimpering softly. He was given a shot of quinine for the malaria, but there are no feeding centers for malnourished children in this part of Tanzania. Because of this and his grandmother’s poverty, the prognosis for this little boy, named Yohanna, is poor. For Wendy, meeting this little boy was especially poignant. His name is the same as her daughter’s middle name. Wendy ended her journal entry for the day with, “I am praying that little Yohanna will live.”
Malnutrition kills 5 million children every year… one child every 6 seconds. What a startling figure. What a heartbreaking figure. The “whys” and “who is to blame”s are complicated and messy, riddled with political corruption, natural and environmental factors, and social taboos too numerous to begin to explain. It hardly seems right that I should go make a cup of Compassion Tea and feel that is enough, because it isn’t enough. But it is a step in the right direction.

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  1. Sanctity of Life « compassiontea

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