How can you help a hungry child?
I sat wide eyed and speechless as I watched the video while a friend and co-worker of mine narrated the video and the still pictures. The pictures and video were taken at a small orphanage in Liberia called Fatima Cottage. This orphanage houses 64 children and is run by an eighty-eight year old woman who has the heart of an earthly saint. Children sat at several long tables in a dirt floored room. The room was filled with smiles and songs sung by wiggling children with sparkling eyes. It was then that I heard her words, “One of the six tables in the room will not receive food today because there is not enough food to feed all the children in the orphanage.” As my heart dropped and my eyes widened I said to myself, “How can that be?” I watched silently as the children who did not receive food continued to sing.
A tidal wave called obesity is here. Whether or not you are overweight it will shape your future. We all have heard about the importance of a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables and energy rich whole-grain foods. Our portions are too large, our reasons to overeat are too numerous, our stress is too high and our bombardment with unhealthy food eating patterns and food choices are too many. We live in a country where the largest fast food company, McDonalds, spends nearly $1,000,000,000 dollars a year on advertising. We know it is time to change our approach to food yet education does not seem to work. New roadblocks to good health appear as soon as old roadblocks are removed. We hear a never ending stream of information that trumpets the importance of improved access to healthy food, active lifestyles, as well as the avoidance of empty calories from junk and fast food. We hear about the perils of snacking and sugar-added beverages and the invasiveness of modern day technology and electronic devices that eliminate our interest and the need to be physically active. Children and parents become detached from a sense of purpose that each of us can relate to. It is this lack of purpose that haunts and defeats us in our daily pursuit of good health.
Children must be given the opportunity to choose compassion, altruism and respect over distraction and the pursuit of personal satisfaction. Although we over-eat for many mindless or purposeful reasons including avoidance and comfort the fact is we continue to overeat. If we are to survive this tidal wave of unhealthy behavior and stress we must pivot, acknowledge our goal of a healthy life for every man, woman and child on this earth and adapt and alter our response to this problem. We must stop killing ourselves while allowing so many in our world to go hungry or starve.
What can you do? Stop this disconnect between food and survival for your child. Teach your child what food actually means. How food allows not only each of us but everyone to survive. Lead in your actions and words. Show your child how to become a steward for others and for themselves. With your help your child will stop seeing the world as a scary self-centered place where one’s own desires trump those of another. This awakening will show your child how the care of others leads to both healthy self-care and an inner happiness born from a certainty that is within each of us.
Reach out to your faith, family and friends and join an organization that is dealing with the hunger and starvation in our world. Allow yourself and your child to be engaged in the fight to understand and defeat hunger. This battle will not be short or easy but it can be won. Your actions will change how you and your child eat. Reframe your understanding of what you eat, why you eat and when you eat. Don’t walk away from that table of children singing ever louder hoping to silence their hunger. Your efforts can change your life and the life of your child and lives of hungry children throughout the world. Start today. Bring your love and commitment to this battle to live healthy and defeat hunger. You are your child’s greatest teacher. Act now, before it is too late.