"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:40 NIV)
I still remember being surrounded by myriads of local Haitian children, all with their hands stuck out begging for money: "Ti monnaie, ti monnaie…" (Haitian for "give me some change"). Their big, wondering eyes were enough to make anyone wish they could take them all home and give them a good, healthy meal.
Being fresh out of college and earning only 30$ a month as a student missionary, my resources for helping these poor kids were limited. Often my heart found itself stuck in my throat as I stood helpless, surrounded by a ring of pleading eyes. They were so many of them! How could I ever make a difference?
Rice and beans are the staples of the Haitian diet. Interestingly, I never saw any rice patties or bean fields in the country, which meant just one thing: The mainstays of their diet were imported from other countries!
That was more than 25 years ago. Today these poor people face an even bigger devastation. Food prices have risen so much in the past few months that most Haitians can't even afford rice and beans! What are they eating instead? Several major newspapers such as the USA Today, Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and the Telegraph report that with no other options, poor Haitian people are being forced to turn to the dirt they are walking on. That's right! They are eating mud! By mixing the dirt with a little oil and sugar, they at least have something to temporarily relieve the growling pain in their stomachs.
But Haiti isn't the only country facing such devastation. Food prices have been on the rise for all of us, but even more so in poor countries. Over this past year, 30 nations have experienced food rioting. In El Salvador, for example, food has hiked 46% since 2006. In the Middle East, food prices have doubled the last two months. Rice, the main staple of many poor countries, has risen a staggering 141%! The poor people around the world have had to cut their diet in half! They simply can't afford more!
In the US, the food crunch is being felt as well, though not as much as in third world countries. Eggs, for example have gone up 24%, dairy products 13%, and poultry 7%. Many Americans have been forced to seek help from churches and other charities, because with gas prices still climbing, they simply can't afford the gas to go to work.
What has caused these food hikes?
There are many factors beside the soaring energy costs. Food demands are higher due to population growth, transportation costs have soared, costs of farming have risen, and much of our corn products are being diverted to the production of biofuels.
What can be done?
May I encourage anyone who wants to help out these poor people to check out Christian charities that specialize in feeding the poor. Donations are not pouring in like in the past, and food demands are higher. Please feel free to donate liberally. It will make a difference to those who are hungry!
Another thing you can do is donate groceries to local churches where the focus is on helping the poor in your area.
And thirdly, but not lastly, please pray daily for these poor people who have no hope in sight. Your prayers will make a difference!
"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:40 NIV)
"Honey, I am home! What's for dinner?
"Mud patties as usual! Enjoy!"
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