I went to a friends’ BBQ on Day 5 of my water fast. Though I am a vegetarian, the scent of the smoking turkey and grilling sausages was almost overwhelming. My friends were so kind and asked wonderful questions about my fast and the situation in Darfur. One teacher asked me about how she could bring this situation into her 5th grade classroom, albeit she did not have enough time in the semester to do an entire course on the Darfur crisis. I shared an interactive exercise that I experienced in a workshop once: Each member of the group was given a small piece of paper with an A, B or C on it and asked to divide up accordingly. The largest group was C and was told to sit on the floor on a mat. The second largest group was B and was given some benches or chairs to sit on with a cloth spread between them. The smallest group was A (about 10% of the group) and was invited to sit at a beautifully set dining table with candles, plates and silverware. Next, the moderator brought out one loaf of freshly baked bread. She tore off small bite-sized pieces and gave them to each person in group C. Then she tore off slightly larger chunks and shared them with the members of group B. About 2/3 of the loaf was still left, which she placed on a bread board next to a plate of brie cheese and invited group A to serve themselves. She then asked us to eat in silence. As the A group looked around at the C group, sitting on the floor savoring their tiny pieces, their discomfort turned to tears. The moderator explained that this represented the current allocation of food resources on the planet, and as Americans we were all sitting at the dining table each night.
I’m considering ending my water fast on Sunday (Day 6) and switching to refugee rations for the remainder of Mia’s 21 days. I feel really strongly that I need to understand what the Darfuris are given to eat (that is when they had monthly food rations) by experiencing the rations myself. Too often we sit at the dinner table with our portion of the global bread loaf with such a disconnect to what living in group C is actually like. I have always had a major issue with the black-tie galas and big fancy events that NGOs throw to raise money – where the patrons dine, drink, party and forget even further the lives of those they are there to help. Though I understand the need to invest in such events, and though I admit abstaining from such events has not served our operating budget so well, I still endeavor to find a way to break down that disconnect between Americans and those in greatest need (while generating support for our work with genocide survivors). And so, that is why this fast is so powerful to me. I hope in some small way I can bring a new level of awareness to others so that one day we can all gather together at the global table and share equitably the planet’s resources.