Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV)
Today, when we arrived at the Malnutrition Center, families were already lined up outside to pick up their food basket. As a Christmas gift, 80 families of children who are not sponsored ($35 a month pays for food and possibly school-go to www.orphansheart.org and look at the list of children needing to be sponsored) were to receive enough food for three months. An Orphans Heart volunteer, concerned about these children still awaiting a sponsor, started a food drive to feed them and their families for three months in hopes that by then, all the children will have a sponsor. I was eager to be a part of the distribution because my dad, as a gift to my mom on their 60th wedding anniversary, purchased one of the baskets and I wanted to be able to tell them about it. So, as soon as I could, I walked to the back of the center where 40 of the families waited (the other half will be given their baskets in a few weeks). One by one, the children were checked in and weighed, measured and photographed. Notes were taken on their development and whether they were progressing or had lost ground. Siblings, even those who had never been admitted to the Center, were also checked. Then, the families went to one large room where they sang some songs and two of the Orphans Heart staff explained why they were getting baskets and thanked them for coming. For the most part, the children sat patiently with their parents, but a few were bored and wandered out into the halls. I got some bubbles to keep them entertained until it was time to go get their food. One boy, Abulardo sat solemnly on a bench near the front door. He would not engage or smile no matter how hard I tried. Finally, one of the interpreters talked to him and he confessed he was afraid his parents would leave him again. When she convinced him that would not happen, he smiled and was willing to play. The amount of food that the families received was astounding. Twenty five pounds each of rice, beans and sugar, oil, pasta, mush, oatmeal and other staples. 150 pounds of food in all. The moms just wrapped it all up in fabric and hoisted it to their heads, walking down the mountain with a broad smile on their face and a hearty wave. Most would catch a “tuk tuk” or small three wheeled Cushman taxi. One dad got up at 2:00 in the morning to travel to the Center to get his family’s food. He would travel by several different taxis and buses before walking twenty minutes back to his mountain village. With 150 pounds of food and his small son. We take so much for granted in our culture. I complain about having to carry my grocery bags from the car into the house! Helping with the food basket distribution was a sobering experience. One I hope I never forget.