I had observed lots of other feeding programs around the world, but never had I witnessed it accomplished in such orderly fashion. Each child received two slices of bread. All stood quietly as they devoured the bread slices. Monica then passed out plastic cups that were soon filled with the thick nutrient drink.
Heather circulated among the kids, looking for the ones suffering from malnutrition. She would walk up and pop a flavored vitamin pill directly into the hungry child's mouth. Nearly all the smallest children received the vitamins. "No one else would do this if I didn't," Heather told me as I followed her from child to child.
The last food handed out to the kids was some sweet puffed rice treats out of a giant plastic bag. Monica went to each child and pulled out all the puffed rice treats she could gather in her two hands and gave it to the child. The children were trained to pull up the front of their little dirty shirts and make a pocket to hold the goodies. That way, no empty plastic bags were left to litter.
Then came the zinging "teachable moment" of the whole "Food Angel" operation. Heather called an older child over to the back of her truck and showed the child some shoes and clothes she had brought with her. She asked the older child whom he thought the shoes and clothes would fit. Then Heather had him take the clothes to that person. "You see," she whispered to me, "I have just involved that child in becoming a loving caregiver. He will never forget that feeling for as long as he lives!"
I was thinking about Heather the other day when I received a message on the social network from a lovely mother who had taken her daughter to our Project C.U.R.E.warehouse in Tempe, Arizona. She, much like Heather, wanted to set up an experience of care-giving that her daughter would never forget:
". . . we live in Gilbert, AZ and were able to volunteer at your (Project C.U.R.E.) warehouse in Tempe. That has been one of the most memorable things my daughter has done.Seeing the needs of others, and her love of science, she has decided to attend the University of Arizona and study medicine. It's because of people like you who encourage and inspire other generations to continue with an important cause. We look forward to continuing to help out with Project C.U.R.E." It is a great privilege, and an incumbent responsibility, that each of us makes it possible for those around us to have the magic of the experience of learning how it feels to make other people "better off."
When Heather's hungry children had gobbled up their bread slices and had finished drinking their gruel, Monica and the two men collected the plastic cups, poured some fresh water out of an old gas can into a large plastic pan, and began washing the cups for the children at the next feeding station. A daily ritual of tender, loving kindness unseen by the outside world. Unnoticed? Not on your life: " ... assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My bretheren, you did it to Me." Matt. 25: 40 NKJV