A story from ‘A ReaL MeaL’
We were walking down a dusty Kathmandu street when we first saw the kids. A million sounds, sights and smells crowded in on our senses and – much like everyone else – we passed them by with barely a thought. Helpless and innocent they may have been but sadly, such tragedies are easily overlooked in this city. They become merely ‘part of the landscape’ to most of us.
Most, but thankfully not all of us. Sitting in a nearby bar the following evening, we learned that our new friend Justin was one of the all-too-rare exceptions to this rule. He had been spending time with those same street kids and taking them to lunch when possible – did we want to come and hang out with them? Sure we did – we just wouldn’t have thought it up by ourselves.
Justin was already there when we arrived the next day and rattled off the introductions. Within about a minute whatever ice there might have been was well and truly broken. The kids wanted to know all about us and we found them to be great company as we led the little party through narrow streets to get some lunch. Along for the walk were a couple of dogs which the kids had adopted and cared for (we’d even seen one of the boys rush into traffic to save an errant pup the previous day). Laughing, chatting and holding hands we soon arrived at a small local restaurant, which our crew quickly packed out. We sat and played games while the kitchen hands dished up a big lot of rice, dhal and vegetables. As the food came out we saw firsthand why it was so needed. The kids fell upon it like… well like hungry children. All conversation ceased and they wolfed down the meal as though it were their last.
“As though it were their last”. It’s easy to skim over such phrases but in this case it really sums up the whole issue. These children – some as young as 6 simply don’t know when, or even if, their next meal is coming. As we parted ways with our new friends they took up their usual position on the sidewalk, having only each other for company as they watch the world pass them by. It hasn’t completely forgotten them though. Thanks to The Big Umbrella, I suspect that their world looks a little bit less uncaring than it did before. In some ways, this is the most important thing. For just a few dollars, the big umbrella gives both food and hope to those who are in desperate need of both.