Years ago, I met a young man named Scott who shared an experience that prompted him to think of the blessings and opportunities in America and the meager resources people have in many parts of this world.
Scott was in high school when a speaker, at a school assembly, showed the size of the United States of America versus the rest of the world. Then the speaker had the students visually represent the populations of several countries and their respective amounts of resources per person. Three students, including Scott, stood for the population of America. Scott remembered that eight students embodied China’s population.
Each of the students representing America’s population was given three hot dogs. The eight students representing China’s population were given one and a half hot dogs to share among themselves. As Scott was sympathizing with those eight students, he heard one of the boys representing America ask, “Where is the ketchup?”
That perspective would capture Scott’s attention. “Here, each one of us had three hot dogs while eight students were to divide one and a half hotdogs among themselves,” Scott said, “but a guy was concerned that he didn’t have a condiment to go with his large portion of food!”
For years I occasionally enjoyed a cup of Chai Latte from Moxie Java, until I visited Kenya, my native country, in 2010 – after living in the U.S. for 24 years. I found a level of poverty I had not seen before. Children were unable to join high school due to a lack of $600 tuition per year, which includes room, board and uniform in some schools. A mother of six committed suicide because she was unable to raise at least $150 for her daughter ‘s first term of high school.
But it was the knowledge that the majority of pupils at the local primary schools go without anything to eat at lunch that would bring my investment in Chai Latte into question. A medium cup of the tea averages about $5 — about what a child needs for almost a whole month of lunches in Kangundo, Kenya. Another way to look at is, if I were to order that tea just five times each week, I would pay the equivalent of the tuition needed to educate two students in high school for a whole year.
In 2013, I met orphan girls sponsored by Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, and learned that they missed classes some days of each month due to lack of feminine hygienic supplies — the basic supplies cost less than $4 a month.
I am a strong proponent of enjoying the blessings and comforts with which God has blessed me. It has become a ritual for me to order a hamburger, french fries and Dr. Pepper after I come back to America from Kenya. I thank God for every bite – completely aware of the millions who are not so fortunate, but also appreciative of the fact that I am doing what I am able to do for some of those people to have better lives.
It is wonderful to enjoy every morsel of your hot dogs. It is also important to remember those who must share the smaller portions.
Vincent Muli Kituku is an author and speaker for business organizations, schools and Christian groups. He is the founder of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, and Caring Hearts High School, a boarding school in Kenya. Contact him at (208) 376-8724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Idaho Statesman’s weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.