Homelessness and World Hunger: How You Can Make a Difference
Recently, we brought another mother's child with us on an adventure to see the Blue Angels at the annual Air Show in Fort Worth.
Taking along one that's not your own can be challenging, especially if they don't fit into your family dynamic. And we knew it would be that way with Legend,who had never been to anything like an airshow before.
Legend is one of the millions of hungry and homeless kids across the globe today, only we found him right in our own city, in downtown Dallas.
"Come with us!" my 7 year old son Reed pleaded, tugging Legend's shirt.
They had met, played, and talked animatedly about toys and little boy things, in a parking lot in downtown Dallas where we had gone to feed the homeless. Legend had been on the street for over a year, shuffled back and forth to various locations, sleeping in shelters, on the street, and under bridges.
A week after we met, we decided to take Legend along with us to the airshow, which is a cataclysmic event for any young boy. It was a beautiful Sunday and as we walked through a field towards the tarmac, loud jets blasted over our heads, swooping low in formation.
"I want to be a pilot!" screamed my five year old, Luke, the moment he saw it.
Inside the cavernous space of a Cargo plane, my seven year old got to sit in the cockpit.
Legend followed along, but he stared at his shoes, uninterested.
I knelt down. "What's wrong?" I asked.
Legend looked around, vacantly. "Can we have some food?"
World hunger is a very real problem, but what a lot of people don't realize is that it's right here in our own backyards. Families with children sleep in shelters, or in sleeping bags under the overpasses we travel to the mall each day Just a mile from one of my city's wealthiest malls, is a homeless tent city where kids rummage through trash bins for food.
Legend is one of them.
The World Health Organization reports that one-third of the world is starving. Over 4 million people will die this year, and in countries like Asia, Africa and Latin America, well over 500 million people live in abject poverty. Some sleep in mud huts, and others live under trees. Most fight for meals and often go days without food.
In America, homelessness and hunger is prevalent in every state. There are thousands of Legends, and they need a helping hand. Most of my friends don't understand my desire to spend time with people under bridges, but I know from experience that one word can change a life.
It's about leaving a legacy beyond yourself, and doing whatever you can to change or save a life, in that moment.
The solutions for world hunger aren't always economics. It's much deeper than that. At the core of hunger is poverty. And at the root of poverty, is often loss, addiction, hurt, and emotional issues. The poor are hungry, and the hungry are poor. In Third World countries, poverty and hunger hinges on sustaining life.
In our country, poverty and hunger are problems facing the homeless, and their children. We can do our part in our own individual cities and make a clear difference in the world, by making a difference in the life of one family.
Hungry kids are not like ours. They're focused on survival, and it's hard for them to enjoy even the most frivolous of things.
After lunch Legend gulped down a lemonade, but instead of being excited about the jets, he laid down on the concrete amidst thousands of people and put his jacket over his head. He curled up into a fetal position and slept. Around him, hundreds of normal kids squealed and laughed. Including mine. Legend missed it all, drawing inward. I sat down on the tarmac and rubbed his back, knowing that nothing I could say in that moment would change things.
"Can't you call Child protective services?" another mother asked me later.
But the answer isn't that simple. There are thousands of Legends living in our world. Some of them will die, and others will make it. Sometimes all you can do is reach out, and be the one who gives them a brief light, or example of love.
Legend laid down on the tarmac, unconcerned with the things normal boys care about.
Overhead, the airplanes roared.
Tammy Kling is an international author and literary coach. Her books have been featured on Dateline NBC, 20/20, Geraldo, and Oprah among others, and sold in countries across the globe. She is an advocate for the homeless and the mother of two boys.
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