The Bad Seems So Much Smaller Now

poverty-is-1 filteredWhile the resolution of the image above is weak, the message it carries is strong. Many children not having enough to eat is a common reality. And it’s not only in some foreign country. Statistics say around 1 in 5 kids in the United States don’t get enough to eat each day. I hate to see adults suffer, but little children doing without food tears at all my emotions from sadness to anger. Have we accepted children going hungry as a fact of life? I can’t and I won’t!

Every day, children in every county in the United States wake up hungry. They go to school hungry. They turn out the lights at night hungry. In high school, Katherine Foronda trained herself not to feel hungry until after the school day had ended. She wasn’t watching her weight or worrying about boys seeing her eat. She just didn’t have any food to eat or any money to buy it. “I thought, if I wasn’t hungry during class I’d be able to actually focus on what we were learning,” said Foronda, now 19.

Early on in high school, with her hunger distracting her from her studies, she failed an English class. Rather than repeating the class, she was given the option of taking an afterschool life skills course, which offered meals to attendees each day and sent them home with food supplies each weekend. She also gained new insight into the possibilities for her own future, learning from a mentor that college was within her reach, despite her family’s economic circumstances.

With food to eat and not just a little bit of hope, she started performing better in classes, and founded a program that offered food support to the student body in her high school. She won a scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she is now a sophomore.

That’s one of the unfortunate beginnings that now appears to be headed toward a good life story. For many that is not the tale their life will write.

Growing up was not an easy time for my brother and me. Yet comparing our experience to what some go through, we were lucky. The poverty and mental, physical and emotional abuse we grew up in left its scars on us. However, we never lacked for clean clothes to wear, even if unfashionable and ill-fitting; a dry and safe place to sleep, no matter how humble it was; and enough food to eat, even if just basic and cheap sustenance. We were encouraged, even threatened sometimes, to do well in school. All in all the childhood my brother and I experienced made us far ‘richer’ than what many children are going through today.

This will sound a little strange to some, but I am grateful for my childhood. I am mature enough now to see the negative parts and not let them over-shadow the benefits I had. My start may have been rough by some standards, but the essentials for life were there that enabled me to grow into a functional adult who contributes positively to society. The bad seems so much smaller now and the good so much larger.

Hunger of choice is a painful luxury;
hunger of necessity is terrifying torture.
Mike Mullin