Our 6th-12th Religious Education students participated in what is called a "Hunger Banquet" with the help of the Mission Society this week. Every Wednesday we feed these 70+ students and teachers supper, but this week they experienced how the world population eats. Everyone's name was entered in to a drawing and chosen at random for which world population they would represent. We had 4 students representing the High-Income population, the wealthiest in the world. They were served a steak dinner, and were waited on constantly by staff.
15 students represented the middle-income world population. They ate tacos, chips and salsa and cookies family style around a big table. Approximately 50 students represented the lowest-income population world wide. They sat on the floor with bowls of rice, no utensils and water scooped out of a community bowl.
Those in the higher and middle income populations were not allowed to share their food with the Low-Income population, a representation of corrupt governments. In many cases hunger is about power. It's roots lie in inequalities in access to resources.
The reactions were many. What was most striking was the anger. Sure, there were a few kids angry that all they got was rice, but they were mostly angry that this was the state of the word. The reaction repeated most often by the students during our meal was: “this isn’t fair!” And they are right. It is not fair. Just as these students did not choose to be in the low-income population, neither do many people all over the world choose that for themselves. They are born in to it and it is not fair.
2.2 billion people live in poverty. Nearly 795 million people suffer from chronic hunger. A child dies from malnutrition or a related, preventable illness nearly every 10 seconds. That's more than 8,000 children a day.
This Lent we have a remarkable chance to make the tiniest difference to address this issue of global poverty in our use of the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl. The money that we donate in our Rice Bowls goes to help alleviate poverty both worldwide and locally right here in the Diocese of Wichita. It is a great chance for us to practice Almsgiving this Lenten season.
To the parents of these students: Thank you for raising children that react to this injustice so strongly. During his explanation after the Hunger Banquet Fr. John told the kids that “this is what it means to be a Christian, that we share what we are given. That is how we can live the Gospel message.” I am filled with hope that we are raising a generation who will live this Gospel message out loud!
You can view pictures from the event on our Facebook page by visiting here: https://www.facebook.com/StJohnsClonmel/
~ Cassi FitzGerald