A Hungry Childhood

Kenya Hunger

Peter Kimeu is a small-scale farmer in Machakos, Kenya, and a technical adviser for Catholic Relief Services, a humanitarian organization. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo / CRS

Hunger is an unforgivable disease because it is the easiest one to cure. It is devastating to wake up in the morning and look east, west, south and north and see that there is nothing green that you can chew. During a drought everything goes yellow and dry. I would walk the roads and search the ground to see if someone had spat out a bit of chewed-up sugar cane. I am not ashamed to say that I would re-chew what I would find. Hunger is dehumanizing. It gets to a level where you do not know how you will survive and you will do anything for a simple kernel of corn.

The thing about drought is that it does not just affect farmers and their crops; it affects everyone. If you think about it, during harvest time farmers hire local farmhands to help with their crops. But when there are no crops to harvest, not only does the farmer lose his or her income, so do the laborers the farmer would have hired. There is a ripple effect that affects the whole community. Few have food and even fewer have money to buy food.

Peter Kimeu’s opinion piece about growing up hungry was published in the September 11 edition of the New York Times.

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