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posted Sep 7, 2017, 11:12 AM by John Ramthun   [ updated Sep 7, 2017, 11:21 AM ]

“When you and I are hungry, we often joke of being “hangry.”  Thankfully, most of us that are reading this likely don’t have an issue with reliable access to food, and rarely have to deal with being hangry for more than a few hours.  But we understand that going without food affects our ability to be cheery or productive.  This story of a boy named Blessing reflects what can happen when food is regularly not available, and how a life going down the wrong path can be righted with nutrition and love.  Healing Hands International in Zimbabwe along with FMSC MannaPack meals helped Blessing to break through the “bad boy” image."  - Jackie Bascom

Story From "The Feed"
FMSC Blog: Stories of Feeding God's Children Hungry in Body & Spirit
In Zimbabwe: A Boy Named Blessing
Fifteen-year-old Blessing was known to those in his poverty-stricken village in Zimbabwe as “The Bad Boy.” 
As a child he suffered from kwashiorkor, a form of malnutrition caused by a lack of protein in the diet. He also survived polio and many other minor illnesses. This malnutrition and illness delayed his education. He was four grades behind for his age. He lives with his grandmother, a widow who takes care of seven children. “My grandchildren always had to search for whatever food they could find,” she said. “In the process, Blessing went to extremes as he just tried to survive.” These extremes are what earned Blessing the nickname “The Bad Boy.”He began to hate school. He was a laughing stock to the other children because he was so behind. His grandmother couldn’t afford the school uniform, which made him stand out even more. And his belly was almost always empty. Blessing started bullying others and taking their food. Often, he skipped school altogether. “Blessing would break in or sneak in huts and houses by day or night in search of food to save his life,” Healing Hands International staff said. “Many people believed and thought he was possessed.”

At 15 he was dragged to the local neighborhood police station. Blessing’s bad habits have been attributed to a “bad spirit.” However, his grandmother believes her grandson was just a victim of extreme poverty and hunger.And she is not wrong. Studies show that the consequences of undernutrition go beyond the physical. Stunting, a form of under nutrition, has adverse functional consequences on children, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). These functional consequences include poor cognition and educational performance. Simply put, it is not farfetched to believe that a child suffering from extreme hunger would behave poorly. These behaviors can be intensified in adolescence (ages 10 to 19), especially as interventions for children very often focus on the younger ages, according to UNICEF.

The Power of Food

But as we know, food is powerful. Blessing’s grandmother began to receive FMSC meals through Healing Hands International, and everything began to change. The teen now eats at home with his family and also receives MannaPack™ meals at the care center run by Healing Hands International. “Blessing now loves school and is currently doing grade seven,” his grandmother said. “Skipping school or staying at home with nothing to eat are now a thing of the past.” Healing Hands International agriculture trainer John Dube agrees. “Without the Care Center providing FMSC Manna Pack Rice meals, Blessing would not be the boy he is today,” Dube said. “Today Blessing is no more the ‘bad boy’ he used to be.”

Feeding Volunteer's Spirits

posted Mar 8, 2017, 8:32 AM by John Ramthun   [ updated Mar 8, 2017, 8:36 AM ]

Sauk Prairie Against Hunger’s tagline is “Feeding People Locally and Globally.”  The intent of that tagline is to represent the fact that our global impact is through our partnership with Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) in our packing event held each year.  That food is then distributed to 70+ countries around the world.  The local impact is based upon multiple programs where we both collect and distribute food in partnership with the Sauk Prairie Food Pantry and Sauk Prairie School District to families in our own community.  However, over the years of holding the FMSC event, we have experienced countless times that this “global” project is, in fact, having a huge local impact on the hearts of the people here in our own community, and all those that come to participate. 
During a recent visit to our local bank, one of the bank associates pulled me aside eager to tell me about her son’s participation at our recent packing event last October, 2016.  Andrea Porubsky emotionally shared her experience with me emphasizing how much her then 9-year-old son, Nicholas, did not want to spend his free evening going to the packing event.    
“It was our night to hang out.   We were going to go pack food for kids.  He was like, “Really?  That is our fun time!  I thought we were gonna go to Culvers or a movie.”  I said, “Nope, better yet!   Packing food for kids --kids that don't get to go to movies or Culvers.”  He said, “Fine.”  We went, and he had a blast!  We tasted the sample on the way out, and he asked me if he could go back for more!  We were driving home and he said it was awesome and wants to do it again.  He felt sad about the movie that played first, but he said it was awesome filling the bags and then packaging them up. He did ask if he could be one of the red hat helpers and move the big boxes around. It was just such an Amazing night that he and I shared, and he's still talking about it, so I know it meant a lot for him to help.” 
Then, Andrea opened up her day planner to inside the co
ver and showed me the dog-eared and clearly precious picture she had taken of her son at the packing event.  That picture says it all, and speaks to the legacy we can leave by involving our kids in something fun and meaningful, while making a global impact at the same time. 
We love hearing these stories! 
And, it is no coincidence that part of Feed My Starving Children’s commitment to excellence states, “We will package our food through the use of volunteers to feed their spirit.”  That is exactly what is happening in Sauk Prairie.  We truly have witnessed the feeding and energizing the spirits of our local volunteers and all who participate in our annual food packing event. 
Do you have an experience to share?  We would love to hear it.  Email your SPAH story to 68spah@gmail.com .
--Jackie Bascom

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