This week as we follow Mary Smith at the clinic in Lal in Afghanistan, we see first hand the devastation that abject poverty and lack of food wreaks on a community and family. In the Western world it is estimated that we waste an estimated 1.3 billion tonnes of food a year. I am sure as you read Mary’s post this week it will give you something to think about with regard to food as it did me. thanks Sally.
Lal-sar-Jangal, Hazaristan – early winter 1989
Next day, Slowcoach had obviously decided to accept her fate and make the best of a bad job. She kept moving, if somewhat reluctantly, until we reached the home of Qurban’s patient, Nasir – after four hours.
After we had eaten, Nasir produced some apples. They were so very small and bruised I, at first, assumed they were for the horses. But they were for us. Other than Khudadad’s gift of a melon, they were the first fruit, I’d seen since arriving in Lal. In the summer months, melons are available, brought from Bamiyan, but bananas, oranges, tomatoes are never seen. When Bashir had shown me his English ABC book I’d pointed to the picture of an orange, asking him the Dari word for it. He shook his head, ‘It has no word in Dari,’ he replied. I said there must be, but he insisted there was not. When asked, Qurban explained Bashir had never seen an orange in his life, and assumed there was only an English name for it.
Lal’s climate was certainly not suitable for growing much in the way of fruit. It is only warm three months in the year, the soil is poor, and few farmers have enough land to grow sufficient wheat for their needs, so even vegetables are rarely grown – a few potatoes and turnips. It was hardly surprising so many children in Lal suffered from a variety of health problems caused by poor nutrition. Feeling guilty about even thinking of giving Slowcoach my precious apple, I bit into it as though it was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted.
Nasir brought his wife and children into the room to meet me. With the exception of the smallest baby – only a few weeks old – all the children had running noses and skin infections, head-lice and, possibly, scabies.
Please head over to Mary’s blog to read the post in full and leave your comments.. thanks Sally