I've been contemplating what to share today for 48 hours now. How has awareness about feeding tubes changed me? I've always thought I was pretty accepting of people and their differences. I guess the biggest change would be that I understand hunger better, I know what it looks like to starve. Naomi was truly starving before she got her feeding tube. About a year after Naomi got her tube I was watching a video from World Vision with my small group from church. In the video they were talking about hunger throughout the world and then it showed a picture of a little boy in Africa who had a ng tube. I watched him lay there with that tube, so spent from his starvation that he could not push the fly that crawled across his face away. Very slowly that boy became more than a starving little boy in Africa, he became my daughter. I remembered the days when she didn't have the energy to play, the times when she felt too awful to even snuggle. My daughter never got to the point that little boy was at simply because she was born in a better zip code. Had my daughter been born in the horn of Africa I might not have her. That moment, that realization I think changed my life forever and if I hadn't understood what starvation is I couldn't have had that moment. Since then I feel different about those who are hungry. I have much more compassion. Hunger makes you cranky, hunger gives you brain fog, hunger makes you tired, hunger makes it harder to work, harder to eat and harder to live. I needed to do something. Since then our family has chosen to sponsor children in Madagascar and the Philippines, we give money to build wells in Haiti, we regularly donate to our local food pantry and I am now there every week with Ladybug Connections striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We got a second chance with Naomi and I hope to give others a second chance too.
I know it seems a strange jump feeding tubes, to starving children in Africa, to hungry families here in my town but really it isn't that far of a stretch. We all need to eat and some of us need help doing so.
You can help the hungry abroad by supporting groups like World Vision, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, Doctors Without Borders or a small group like Una Vida who gives dignified work to marginalized women in the Dominican Republic.
You can help the hungry locally, by finding your local food bank and giving food, money or time. Every single time I step foot into the grocery store I buy something for the food pantry, this is double good, the food pantry gets food and I make less unnecessary trips to the store. Also find out if you have a local soup kitchen, they could always use help.
Finally you can help the medically hungry, those who can't eat orally by supporting Feeding Tube Awareness, the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, The CURED foundation, your local Children's Hospital, or you could help me with my toy drive for Children's Hospital Oakland, the toys feed the spirit of hospitalized children.
These lists are nowhere near complete and please feel free to suggest other great organizations in the comments.
Just remember you can't save the world BUT you can be the world to someone.