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The Face of Hunger

The face of hunger.

I have some thoughts rattling around in my brain on the subject of poverty, and hunger. I have seen homeless people here in America, and have helped some of them out with money and food. I have also seen a different kind of poverty in third world countries. It is in these third world countries that you will truly find, the face of hunger.

There is one thing that really baffles me about poverty in America. Why is it that when there is a news story about poverty in America the news crew is always interviewing a large woman who is smoking a cigarette, and complaining about her food stamps getting cut back.

She claims that she is going hungry while smoking a cigarette, and wants the viewers to feel sorry for her. What she really means is having her food stamps reduced will cut into her cigarette money. It is really hard for me to have sympathy for somebody like that.

I have done some traveling on this little blue green planet we call home. I have even found my way to so called third world countries, and have seen things that some of you may have only seen on a Feed the Children fund raising campaign on Sunday morning T.V., while eating Belgium waffles, and fried eggs.

There is a big difference between hunger here in America, and in other parts of the world. I love my country, but we are all human beings here on Earth. Does being born to parents who are “financially challenged” in another part of the world make someone less human? I don’t believe so.

I have seen people digging through the dumpster behind my store, and have given them money, and told them to get something better to eat. This happened a few times, and the results were the same. They went into the store, and bought beer with the money. Why buy food when they can get it free from the dumpster? They wanted to spend the money on beer. Which more than likely explains why they are in that situation in the first place.

There was a similar situation I came across in Bangkok. There were garbage cans set up on the sidewalk near some food carts, and I saw a homeless man digging through one hoping to find some uneaten food. I handed him some money which he gladly accepted. There was a 7-11 store about a minute walk from where I handed him the money, so I half expected him to get a cold beer from the store.

He disappointed me, as he went over to one of the food carts, and ordered food with the money. He was truly hungry, he wanted food not beer. I walked over to the 7-11 store, and bought a bottle of water for about thirty cents. (The same bottle of water that costs a dollar, and some change in America, only costs thirty cents in Thailand.)

I found the man nearby, and handed him the bottle of water to wash down his food. He seemed grateful to have fresh food, and water for his meal that day. The face of hunger is much different there. Allow me a moment to give you another example of what I mean.

I was wondering around Bangkok, Thailand enjoying all of the fascinating culture, and customs in this captivating city when I came across an area with many street vendors selling food. The smell coming from the food carts selling all kinds of different foods was intoxicating. There was an area close to the food vendors with many tables, and chairs set up to sit down at, and enjoy your food.

I purchased food from two different vendors and walked away with some fried rice, Papaya salad, Pad Thai with shrimp (my favorite), a plastic bag of fresh cut Mangos for dessert, and a liter of cold water. I was in heaven as I walked over towards the tables to enjoy my big lunch that I paid less than five U.S. Dollars for. I had a big smile on my face, and my tummy was rumbling as I walked over to find a seat, and then she stepped in front of me.

She was a young Asian child, maybe six or seven years old. She stood right in front of me blocking my path, but never said a word, she just stared at my food. She appeared to be a little dirty as I looked upon her. It wasn’t just her clothing, but her face, hands, and arms appeared unwashed as well. She was wearing a pair of sandals and although this is normal foot wear in Thailand, I am guessing that was the only pair of shoes she had.

I tried to say hello to her both in English, and in Thai, but she did not respond. She did make eye contact with me for a brief moment with a look of disdain on her face, and then her eyes were fixed again on my food. Someone whom I assume was her mother stepped over to the child, took her by the hand, and then bowed to me as if apologizing for her child standing in front of me.

The little girl then looked up at me again with a look in her eyes, and on her face that said only one thing, that she was hungry, and wanted something to eat. It was a look of surrender, a look of pleading. What would you do?

I know what I would do, and did do. I motioned with my hand to the mother to follow me over to the tables, which she apprehensively did with her daughter in tow. They sat down, and I put my tray of food in front of them, and smiled as I gestured towards the food.

The little girl wasted no time picking up the chop sticks on the tray, and eating the food in front of her. Her mother soon joined in. I looked back at the little girl as I walked away, and she had a smile on her face as she ate. She instantly went from a look of depression, to a look of happiness, even her eyes lit up with her smile.

I ate a big breakfast earlier that morning, and I had a dinner date planned with a lovely Thai lady later that evening. I would be willing to bet that was the only thing they would eat that day, or the next for that matter.

I may be a Total Loser that works in a grocery store, but I am human too. The look in that skinny little girls eye was the true face of poverty, the true face of hunger. Not some heavyset woman smoking a cigarette complaining about her food stamps getting cut back. Then again that is only the opinion of a loser.

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