Ask any child-headed household what their greatest need is, and they would say food and school fees. Sometimes when a child manages to go to school, they are sent home because hunger prevents them from studying.
SOHO volunteers were at a community clinic when a little girl who had been following one of them like a lost pet, sat down.
Silently glancing at the volunteer, the little girl waited, asking for nothing. “What’s your name?” she was asked. And why aren’t you in school?” The story tumbled out. She looked like eight but she was thirteen. The household had three other children younger than her. Her mother was sick and she did much of the work. Out of a class of 30, she was first.
She was bone thin and when she straightened up to walk, her legs were bowed. Malnutrition. Tears flooded the eyes of the volunteer. The child was home from school because she got sick in class. It had been so long since she had eaten. She was asked where she found food, “From begging.” And when that failed, she did without.
She took the volunteer’s hand and lead her out into the yard to introduce her to a bowed, ill looking woman . A quick trip was made to a near by neighborhood pantry, and a grocery list was made. Cooking oil, some corn meal, sugar, salt, a loaf of bread, powdered soup mix and some soap. It wasn’t much but it was what was available.
Further inquiry showed that the place where the destitute family lived did not even have a blanket to cover the cold floor. SOHO arranged to provide blankets, some clothing and a supply of food. This scene repeats itself all too frequently and without help from organizations like SOHO.