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Rae Waring – Cobourg, ON
Ola Honduras, I had not forgotten you completely, but my mind was sharpened by the sight of the hills from the plane, patterned in forest green, lawn green, and housetops tiled in red, orange, or pink.
After a great reunion with old friends from a previous trip, we began our distributions and, as in past trips, the close-up sight of the children caused emotions not felt from television pictures. The sight of blind children receiving their bedkits was heartbreaking. Many other children were deaf or otherwise handicapped. So while many showed great joy when receiving their bedkits some were more subdued.
I know from my food chemistry background that part of the problem of impoverished children is poor nutrition. Contrary to what many believe, rice provides calories but very little nutrition. Beans are better but a diet of rice and beans would not come close to the minimum protein and vitamin requirements published in Canada. Also, the protein quality is not good. Egg protein is the best, followed by milk, meat, beans, and corn, in that order. But eggs, milk, and meat are not affordable for the poor.
I confirmed my impression by talking to two mothers at the distribution sites. Maria Gonzales is a single mother with one child of her own and an adopted child. She also has a brother living with her. Her monthly income is 1,700 Lempiras (less than a dollar) which provides a diet of only rice and beans and very occasionally a bit of chicken. Carla Inquina lives with her husband and child. She earns money selling trinkets on the city streets. She says she cannot afford milk and vegetables. The diet of these families thus provides very little protection from disease.
As I leave Honduras, I know there will be poverty for a long time. But I hope that someday all the poor children will have an adequate diet.
In the meantime, good sleeping facilities and insect protection will add much to the health of the children. I am proud that SCAW is making a strong effort to make that a reality.
So I say, "Adios, Honduras." I hope I have helped you a little bit.