10 Cent Meals
There are numerous poverty-stricken families in Cane, Honduras. In a particular family of seven, only one of the little ones goes to school. He is seven years old. In a year or two he will have to drop out of school and begin working.
For them, childhood is over, Jenny Rogers, executive director of The KidSAKE Foundation said. They hope to be fed and to be warm and to get a pair of shoes if they’re lucky.
“They play, but they bear a burden that shouldn’t be the burden of a 7-year-old child,” Jenny said. “These children don’t have time to wonder and to imagine. They are hungry.”
Clementina, a 74-year-old woman who lives on a teacher’s pension in this third world country, runs a soup kitchen in her village for the poor children up to age 10. She used to feed 90 children two meals a day, but now she can’t afford it.
“Clementina is only feeding one meal a day to the 45 absolute poorest children, blending breakfast and lunch to spread it out,” Jenny said. “She’s feeding half as many kids half as much food.”
Even though she has reduced the amount of food she gives out, she is in debt to the market 200,000 lempiras. That’s about $1,100.
“Without Clementina, I don’t know what I would do,” one of the soup kitchen mothers said. “When I need milk for my babies, somehow she gets me milk. When I’m desperate, I go to Clementina and she helps me.”
Jenny believes Clementina perseveres because she holds on to the hope that somehow the children’s lives will be better than the mothers’ lives. She sees a beacon of hope.
For the past five years, Jenny has been that beacon of hope. She met Clementina, decided to create a nonprofit organization called KidSAKE, and has worked to help the Honduran woman with the soup kitchen ever since. She thinks about Clementina every day.
“I’m nobody,” Jenny said. “I am a single mother of three. So many times I have thought, ‘I wish I could quit’ because I’m so tired.
“But how do you quit on Clementina? When you’ve been here and you know there’s something you can do, you can’t quit.”
At the same time, she struggles to support her own family. She works full time, goes to school at MTSU full time, is a mother full time, and gathers as much money and support as she can to help Clementina and the village of Cane.
“I don’t think I could live with myself if I quit on Clementina and the children, but I can’t do this myself,” Jenny said.
She relies on the goodwill of others 100 percent of the time. Her own children are on the free lunch plan at school, so she can’t simply donate thousands of dollars from her own pocket. She tells the story of Cane to others to muster donations.
“Too often people think the little they do won’t make a difference ... so they do nothing,” Jenny said. “They are wrong. It takes 100 pennies to make a dollar. Think of all the times you pass by a penny because you’re too lazy to pick it up.”
Four hundred dollars a month would feed all 90 kids twice a day on the weekdays. That’s 10 cents a meal.
If many people share the load, it’s not a heavy load, Jenny said.
“Most of the people I know go to a fast food restaurant at least once a month,” Jenny said. “If you were willing to sacrifice that one time and put that money in a jar and at the end of the month donate it, you could feed a child for an entire month. That’s one value meal at McDonalds. Then, if 90 people gave up that value meal, we could feed all 90 kids.”
For now, only 45 of those children will eat a little food each day. And Clementina will remain in debt. Jenny prays she can somehow help Clementina and help the children.