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Hunger and children

October 10th, 2003 · No Comments

I’m not sure how it started. I think I was trying to help Abigail understand how some of the rest of the world lives. Maybe I mentioned that not everyone has beds like we do. And she started asking questions. She wanted to know specifics. So I told her that there were children who didn’t have beds. Children who didn’t have toys. Children who didn’t have food.

Abigail’s reaction was immediate. She wanted to do something “to help the kids who don’t have anything.” She wanted to buy them toys. She wanted to buy them food. “Tunafish,” she thought would be good, “so they can have sandwiches.” “Will the children come over to our home?” she wanted to know.

“I’ll make them a card,” she declared. Using her favorite stickers, she folded a piece of blue paper and wrote “I love you kibs (sic)” on it. “This is for the children.” We talked about maybe taking some things to a place where people help children.

I found myself amazed, unsure of what I had started in her heart. I wasn’t sure what to do. How to explain to her that there are millions of needy children. How to tell her that one piece of blue paper with three stickers on it won’t do much at all to help the hunger. How to let her know that poverty is part of life. And that a little girl is powerless to change the world.

But I saw her passion and her hunger to help the hungry. And I thought about her sensitive heart, the pure desires of a 5 year old girl. Why should I discourage her? Why should I poison her with my pessimism and practicality? Am I the one who needs to change perspective, and not her?

What if every 5 year old had such a heart, wanting to help the hungry, wanting to change the world? And what if every 5 year old grew up to be a 35 year old who could actually do something about these issues? An adult who put her life where her childlike heart was? Or why wait to 35, why not a 25 year old? Or maybe even a 15 year old, spending her money on food and toys for poor children instead of fashions and trinkets for herself?

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