by Rachelle Gan
World Vision Malaysia
You could say food means a lot to me. In fact, food is a part of most of my best memories. Never food at fancy dinners or feasts, but home cooked fare and street food gems. Warm meals shared amongst loved ones at down to earth places which allow for easy conversation and laughter. Knowing all is good as it is, that there are people who will care for you long after the table is cleared.
The significance of what food represents and what we associate it with makes it so much more than just a necessity, although that in itself is significant enough. There is a bond that comes from willingly sharing a meal in good time and talking over your thoughts and experiences. Over time you build your own culture and rhythm, an inner stability you carry with you even as times change and dinner companions are no longer the same.
On a base level these kinds of interactions encourages one to think for oneself, to care for the importance of nourishing oneself, and by extension caring for others. Truly, the joy and appreciation for food is just the beginning, a basic first step leading to a joy and appreciation of the other little things in life.
Admittedly I never had to worry about my next meal, or having enough to eat. There would always be food and all that came with it. Many of us never had to deal with the insecurity of not knowing if one of the most basic survival necessities of humanity was going to be simply, cruelly out of reach. There was always a place at the table for us.
Although I will never fully understand the depths of actual real hunger, it pains me nonetheless to think of the child who does. A lack of food security goes beyond the terrible clutch of hunger, the effects reach far into a child’s life.
A hungry child’s brain and body will not mature as they should without the proper nutrients, and many of these children can be emotionally stressed from the strained home life of a family who cannot afford to buy food. Additionally, their futures are affected should they have to neglect school and work to earn money to avoid starvation.
The few memories these kids treasure will be haunted, maybe even eclipsed by the daily grind of hunger, of uncertainty, of hopes dashed and unfulfilled longing to see past the shadows of poverty. And I believe everyone deserves a chance to be free of such circumstances.
After all, everyone deserves a place at the table.