Tag Archives: Poverty

Project One Bowl of Rice

(photo by georgereyes)

One bowl of rice isn’t much to eat.  Usually its enough to accompany beans, chicken, or a slab of meat; but a bowl of rice by itself…. ummmm, not so much!

Now imagine that bowl of rice being the only thing you eat ALL DAY!

Hard to even think of, but to about half the population of this world we live on, that’s ALL they get!

I remember when I was little and hungry, I would use the phrase, “I’m starving!” (ok… I still use it today) The truth be told, I have NO idea what starving is really like.  Most of us from West don’t.  I don’t think it’s a BAD thing that we don’t know the feeling of starvation, but I also don’t think it’s a GOOD thing that we don’t think about those who actually are.

The difference between sympathy and empathy is this: understanding through experience.  Until we ‘walk a mile’ in someone else’s shoes, we cannot empathize with them, only sympathize.  It’s something I battle with on a daily basis, literally seeing starving families all around me, but only on a sympathy level.

So, I’ve decided for ONE WEEK, I am going to see what it’s like to empathize.  I am going to only eat ONE BOWL of rice a day throughout the upcoming 7 days.

Sure, I know it’s not the same as truly living in poverty and not having a choice about how much to eat.  I can easily choose to give up and eat more during the day.  This isn’t  a special diet or trying to starve myself for poverty’s sake, its more about putting myself in someone else’s shoes for a week in order to gain a better perspective of what true poverty is. I know its not going to save the world, or even a portion of it, but even if it brings an awareness to myself and others through the experience, it will have served its purpose.

Hopefully, I’ll be blogging about how it’s going and what I’m learning throughout the week, so stay tuned.  And if you want to join me, even if only for a day, please feel free! That would be awesome!

Here’s to ONE BOWL OF RICE A DAY!

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A True Meaning of Hospitality

Yesterday I went to the house of one of the refugee girls, who I am working with, to speak to her parents.  Her dad is Ethiopian and her mom is Eritrean.  I originally went to make plans as to what time I will pick up Rivkah each morning, but I ended up staying for much longer…

…They live in a TINY 2 room apartment, all 6 of them.  There are 4 children, all under the age of 10.  Rivkah is the 2nd oldest at 7. She has an older brother, 10 yrs old, a younger one, 4 yr. old and a 6 month old baby sister.  And they all live in that 2 room apartment.

One room consists of 2 beds and a couch with a couple plastic chairs while the other has 2 more beds, leading into the kitchen (which is technically the same room).  There is a ridiculously small bathroom, which they all must share. There is no art on the walls, no decorations brightening the place, and certainly no “extras” as we all tend to have in our lives. They are all ‘refugee status’, but haven’t been given work visas yet.  This is the main concern of her dad, as he cannot provide for his family.  Looking around, my heart is breaking, but I must remain positive for them all.  They are beyond poor, not even having diapers for the baby.

YET, the first thing Rivkah’s mom did when I entered her place was offer me coffee.  She barely has enough food in the house to feed her 4 children, but she is concerned about my well-being and me feeling welcomed.  At this point I was almost in tears, thinking about this gesture of hospitality.

As I left their humble abode, I will admit I felt ashamed, angry, and sad. Ashamed for all the times I complained about where I live, what I don’t have, and how difficult life can be. Angry at how society perceives the African Refugees in Israel and how they are treated on a daily basis. And Sad because of the situation, not only that they were in, but for the other 20,000+ families who were in the same boat.

What I walked away with yesterday was this: It doesn’t matter how much you have or don’t have.  It doesn’t matter how much money is in your pocket or in your bank account.  It’s not about what car you drive or the size of your house.

It’s all about how you treat others.  Years from now the details of their apartment will probably be forgotten, but I will never forget how I was treated and welcomed by them.

A lesson I need to constantly remind myself of….


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