Real Hunger

February 17, 2012 • Liberia

Trudy Petersen blogs from Yekepa, Liberia, where Samaritan’s Purse is working to expand the African Bible College University

How many of us have overused the phrase, “I’m starving?” More accurately, how many of us have misused the phrase?

Most people here have tea for breakfast, no lunch, and rice with a kind of soup poured over it for supper. A handful of raw peanuts is a treat.

Several women I’ve talked to here share stories of foraging for wild yams and other roots in the jungle in the absence of anything else to eat. Musa (from Sierra Leone) tells of the need to move every time the rebel soldiers were closing in on his family. With no food on the run, life was reduced to basic survival mode.

Some of the older male students describe eating raw cassava while in hiding during the war. Cassava is all but inedible without cooking it, but during the war no one started fires lest they be discovered.

Bouillon cubes (used for making soup) are sold singly in the outdoor market. Saturday night supper for our students on campus is tea and bread.

The Liberians have a few tricks up their sleeves such as swallowing GB—a small, slimy ball of cassava that sits heavily on the stomach—to fool the body into thinking they are full.

A bag of rice costs about $45. The construction workers at the college make $25-50 per week. Betty, an elderly widow hobbled into our house on her arthritic knees to tell us her “rice was finished.” Translation: she has NO food in the house.

So the next time you are tempted to say, “I’m starving,” you might consider those who really are!