On September 4th Outside the Bowl took a team of 8 people to Port au Prince, Haiti. During our quick 5 day trip, the team visited the OTB kitchen and spent valuable time interacting with our ministry partners and the people they serve. One of our team members, Kim Bryant, shares her experience and the impact it had on her below.
There are no fat people in Haiti—at least none that I saw on my recent trip to the island. And, whereas there are six restaurants/places to eat and one grocery store within walking distance of my home, I didn’t see one restaurant and only saw one store that could loosely be described as a grocery store.
In a country that is pushing 70% unemployment and no real safety net for those in need, food becomes a commodity. Something that you think about all the time. Something that you work for. Steal for. Something that forces you to secretly leave your children at an orphanage for. Because you know that the American Christians will make sure that your child gets fed and isn’t taken by traffickers.
I was stunned to learn that many of the “orphans” in Haiti actually have living parents. But after being exposed to new moms at a maternity hospital for the poor in Port-au-Prince, and seeing the hopelessness and despair in the eyes of the women, I can understand how turning your child over to strangers can offer more hope than trying to raise them, yourself. Leaving them offers them a chance—a chance of not dying of starvation.
During my stay, I witnessed how Outside the Bowl partners with orphanages to provide one hot, nutritious meal to some of the most beautiful children I have ever seen. One orphanage, Child Hope, even invites the local, neighborhood children (about 100) to share a meal at their facility, daily. It is obvious that the children are hungry as they devour the food placed before them. I even witnessed a little girl, probably about six or seven, finish her bowl of soup and then take the bowl of a younger child next to her and begin eating her food, as well. As I rescued the food and began feeding the younger girl, I realized that even with this feeding program, these children were not getting enough food to satiate their hunger.
That’s when I had an epiphany. The people lining the streets of every town we went through—lined up, table after table, like a community garage sale, selling anything that might be of minimal value to someone else, were likely just trying to earn enough money to fill their own belly for the day. And, sadly, it seemed that everyone was selling—and no one was buying.
Now that I am back home, I am uber-aware of my relationship with food and disgusted with how much I, personally, spend and waste. As a nation, we are consumed with eating for pleasure. Restaurant Week, A Taste of (name your city), we even have a whole television network, the Food Channel, dedicated to food! I am not advocating that everyone do a 36-hour fast to personally experience, in a very small way, what it is like to truly be hungry; but I do think it is important, especially during Hunger Action Month, that we take a minute over our Starbucks, and consider how we can help ease the food deprivation that occurs in so many other places in our world.
Outside the Bowl is truly making a difference in Haiti. I know that, first-hand. I have seen the faces of those that are being fed. One of the Orphanage Administrators I spoke with said, “Now that we partner with Outside the Bowl, the food is less expensive, it is more nutritious, and the kids like it better!” I feel good about supporting an organization that is working to provide food for those who might not otherwise have anything to eat. I see God working through this ministry to the basic needs of hungry people. I am proud to be a part of feeding the hungry—body and soul.