Monday, August 8, 2011

The Hunger Project

I've always been a tangible, learn by experience kind of girl. I wish I was that person who could be told the stove was hot and could walk away, but no, I have to burn myself to truly understand that it is hot. This fact about myself means I often have to explore the simple and complex concepts of life using a hands on approach. I think that is why I find my heart beats the strongest when I am traveling. There is something about being in a new land, with new people, and new sights that makes one ponder the deeper, confusing things in life.

I just returned this past weekend from Honduras. It was my first trip there and being the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere it was my definitely my biggest glimpse into true poverty. Don't get me wrong, I have seen children in rags and shoeless walking the streets in Europe and I have seen deformed and malnourished children tied to beds in Jamaican orphanages. Even still, something was different about Honduras. Maybe it was the widespread poverty that seemed to touch almost all city and country inhabitants or maybe it was just the extremeness of the poverty (no shoes, clothes, food and little shelter....). Whatever it is/was, it shook me. When I close my eyes; I see the toddler whose ribs stuck out but whose belly was hard and big from worms. I see the shame in the school girl's eyes as she tried to hide the skin disease on her feet as I fitted her for shoes. I see the desperation in the mothers' faces as they ran behind our supply truck hoping for just a little more. Children caged like animals in an orphanage surrounded by barb wire-well, it's just not right.

Every day I passed out supplies and every day I left those bordos and orphanages and headed back to my hotel. I'd be exhausted by the time I got there and I'd be "starving." Long days in the heat doing manual labor and passing out all of those supplies sure gave me an appetite and I'd woof down an amazing dinner in a Honduran restaurant.

Then, I got back to the States and a friend emailed me about the famine in Somalia that is killing tens of thousands of children. I watched video clips of children in this famine who are as thin as my arm who are just slowing wasting away without food and water. Then I looked through my trip pictures and saw the devastation and hunger represented there as well, and I wondered to myself; "What is it like to be hungry?"

Now I'm not talking about that "starving" feeling that I talked about above when I referred to myself being hungry after 5 hours of not eating something. I'm talking about true hunger that comes from days and weeks of not eating anything substantial or maybe nothing at all. After mulling over this question for two days and finding no real peace about it I knew it was time to make it tangible. I decided the only way I am going to understand the true severity of hunger that these children face every day is by getting hungry, very hungry.

For the next week or so I will forgo food to pursue hunger. Instead of eating I will journal/blog what hunger feels like as it builds and wanes. Hopefully what I learn in my own quest will enlighten you to not forget how blessed you are and might inspire you to help stop hunger around the world.

Thus the hunger project is born. It is my personal quest to understand hunger just a little better. I will never truly understand what these children go through living in poverty; but hopefully experiencing just an ounce of it will help me never forget to do what I can to help them.

Let us be hungry to help others,

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