I spent a few hours making 20 meals this morning, questioning my sanity the whole time. I have been feeling the urge to start cooking meals at least once a week for the many children who can be found living on the street. Fear amongst other things has been holding me back. I was scared that the children would want money instead of food, that I would get swarmed and not be able to provide for everyone, or even that I wouldn't be able to find anyone to feed! What would I make? How would I serve it? Would it taste good and be nutritious? There was just so much I was unsure about that I had convinced myself for months that it wouldn't be worthwhile.
If the mouth of only one hungry child is fed, shouldn't that be enough? I started to realize that I was worried I wouldn't meet my goals, or meet my satisfaction instead of worrying about meeting the goals of whatever thing (much bigger than myself) brought me here. In all honesty, Katy really encouraged me to just go for it. We had many conversations about it and I left Hong Kong knowing that I just needed to do it. So, I did. And here is how making 20+meals by myself went:
-I burned the dal a little bit
-I made too much rice
-The containers collapsed and leaked dal all over
-I had solicited the help of my roomie to help me carry and deliver the food but she couldn't make it home in time. I was on my own. *In her defense she was at an orphanage playing with children, can't hold that against her*
-I cried a little bit because I wasn't sure how to physically carry it all and I didn't want to go to the train tracks alone. I found myself asking, am I really meant to do this all by myself?? I just wanted a little help!
-I took a deep breath, and realized that surly I won't have made these meals just to waste them because I can't carry them all myself. So, I shoved 20 boxes of rice in my back pack along with 25 bananas and placed all the dal in a box to carry in my arms.
-I hailed a tuk tuk, with dal leaking all over my legs
-I saw five children in a pile of trash, looking for food so I got out of the tuk tuk
-As I was feeding them I heard my name
-I turned around and saw one of the hospital's employees, a man named Chetri behind me
-He doesn't work for OpSmile but he is always helping us (ex: Carrying large children down the stairs when the elevator is broken, fixing equipment, blowing bubbles on the ward, feeding the birds from the window of the hospital's OR, etc)
-He saw me feeding the kids and asked if he could help, of course I said yes. God sent me Chetri! I couldn't get rid of my smile.
-He took the box out of my hands and helped explain to the adults around that first the meals must be given to children
-We kept walking, handing out meals to any street child we saw
-As we got to the tracks I was worried I wouldn't have enough meals, surely I would run out and disappoint some of the kids
-I was down to my last 8 meals when I looked up and counted exactly eight hands held out to me
-A train passed by as I finished handing it out, I was able to slip back down the road without being swarmed
-Chetri went about his day, buying vegetables as he does on any given Sunday.
-I went home and collapsed on the ground, shaking and astounded by the blatant confirmation that this can and should be done on a regular basis. I easily cooked the meals single handedly, the kids were all extremely grateful and I never felt swarmed or overwhelmed. Chetri came right when I needed him and in a city of a few million people, that is incredible. Next weekend, I have a date with some street kids again :)
As an f.y.i Here is what I made for each child:
-1/2 cup Dal tadka for protein
-1 cup Rice with ghee for added fats
-1 serving cucumber
-1 serving carrots
Any ideas of what else is nutritious that I could add for next time?