Today was THE day! The culmination of the "Feed My Starving Children " for Haitian orphans saw the first day of Mobile Packs being filled in the High School gym; this little community has raised over 60 thousand dollars since late January by fund- raising projects like Community Bazaars, a "Hoedown For Haiti" music and supper; a community Sing for Haiti and other worthy events in order to raise the money needed to pay for the food that is being packed today and tomorrow . It is destined to reach the hungry children in Haiti in just 10 days to 2 weeks. The Feed My Starving Children organization depends on volunteers to do all the work necessary for the dry food packets that will feed chidren in orphanges, schools and other places in countries where poverty and hopelessness prevails. Children all over the world in countries like Zimbabwe and other African nations, children in Asia, children in South America and children on islands such as Haiti which suffered the disastrous earthquake recently are the benefactors of todays’ volunteers from our community.
I worked a 2 hour shift this afternoon along with other adult volunteers and hundreds of enthusiastic 4th, 4th, and 6th graders from the local elementary school along with their teachers and other elementary school staffers. We packed the mobile packs to rocking music that was turned up to enable all of us to hear it……there must be ringing ears among the adults tonight. We didn’t recognize the songs but the kids did and they sang along with a lot of the ones that were blasted into the gymnasium’s atmosphere. Whenever one of the many tables where the volunteers worked together putting the chicken flavored powder, the dried vegetables, the soy protien nuggets and the rice into packets that when filled will feed one child for several days. At the feeding centers set up by Feed My Starving Children, huge pots of the cooked rice mix are distributed to children who eat this as the one hot meal they get each day. But they thrive and grow on this ration!!!
We were all dressed in white filmy hairnet covers for our hair and we all enjoyed the sight of each other until we got down to the serious business of packing the food. Then it no longer mattered that we looked weird in our hair covers.
Each time one of our tables filled another packing carton to the top with the filled bags we would break into Jungle Howls and Shouts to let the others know of our progress. At my table I worked along side 3 fifth grade students and we began to chant as we packed and poured: "CHICKEN! VEGETABLES! SOY! RICE!" We also rocked our bodies in time to the music and sometimes changed our chant to fit the music’s compelling beat. I never dreamed that I would be so carried away by the loud rock music and be chanting and packing with children who could be my grandkids! But I did and the two hours went so fast we did not know what hit us. The gym was absolutely full of kids and adults all working together in a rythym of hard work, pouring the dry foodstuffs into the plastic bags, weighing each packet to make sure it was between 340 and 400 grams; some kids added rice if the packet was too light, they removed spoonfuls if it as too heavy; others worked on sealing the bags and others lined the readied bags on the table til there was enough to fill another cardboard carton. When the carton was full we erupted into loud cheers. If we needed additional food we would hold up our cups and scream for "RICE" or "SOY". We ran out of rice and soy faster than anything else—–each mobile pack had 1 large cup of rice and 1 large cup of soy. There were diligent "runners" from the elementary classes who kept the bins full for the packers. It was marvelously planned and executed packing session that ran so smoothly and so fast that when the 2 hours were over, we had packed enough bags to feed one child for over a year!!! I do not remember how many packets we filled or how many cardboard cartons were filled but the number was unbelievably high!
Before we began our 2 hour shift we were shown a DVD which was filmed in Haiti with children in orphanages who will receive the food providing a commentary on what the food packs mean to their daily lives. We saw pictures of very young children that came to the refuges in states of emaciation so bad that we could scarcely stand to look at the photos of them. After a few months of nourishment, one could barely recognize the chubby healthy child who has nearly starved prior to being brought to the orphanage. The most gut- wrenching true story…the one that made the auditorium go so unbelievably quiet that you would never have known the room was filled to capacity with energetic upper-elementary students…was that of "Baby Moses". His mother gave birth to him in a public outhouse and let her baby fall into the outhouse hole filled with human body wastes. An elderly man who approached the public outhouse heard a baby’s cries coming from inside the outhouse.
When he realized that the crying baby was down in the toilet hole, he courageously lowered himself down and got the infant out, bathed him , wrapped him up as best he could and brought him to the orphanage. Later pictures of Baby Moses showed a growing healthy infant; the last picture of Baby Moses was of him as a lively 4 year old, so healthy and happy that he was considered a "troublemaker" among the many children at that orphanage. Tears of joy were shed at the end of that story. It was a terrific introduction to the students who went in to pack the food with the fresh images of the children in Haiti who will recieve the food we packed today.
I was amazed that I stood for 2 hours without moving and worked to fill the mobile packs…we did exchange jobs with each other as the three fifth graders wanted to have a hand in all three stations….chicken powder, dried veggies, soy and rice. We were able to make our exchanges so smoothly we did not miss a beat in our packing. It was an indescribable experience today…..it was nothing but inspiring and positive. The students felt it too….they were awe-struck by the enormity of what they were doing today…..packing food for strarving children in Haitian orphanages and refugee camps.
Tonight after another trip to into "town" to visit my Auntie at Eventide and then stopping to do two errands, I returned home sometime after 7 p.m. when the sun was just beginning its descent in the West. There were clouds….blue gray in hue…piling up in the west and the formation looked amazingly like mountains….I remembered the first time I saw the distant Rockies from Laurel, Montana on a sunny morning in June, 1950. The clouds tonight looked just like mountains and I could not help but think of the "mountain" we scaled today at the high school gym where we packed food for those Haitian children.
I hope the "mountain" for those kids from Haiti is made lower and easier to surmount by the volunteer work we accomplished this afternoon. The packing continues tomorrow with the adult teams working with the mobile packing. I hope they can sing to the music (if they play it tomorrow) and shout and cheer as loudly as we did today…. I hope they can sway their bodies to the beat like we did for two hours…..all the elementary kids and all of us Old People who worked side by side with a great bunch of children who will not forget what they did today or why they did it.