Fast reminds local kids of those forced to go without

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

In a 24-hour period, over 16,000 youngsters around the world die from hunger. On every continent, there are millions who don’t know what they’ll have to eat the next day – if anything at all.

So maybe going without food for a day, as a few dozens kids from South Hampton Roads did on Saturday, isn’t really a big deal. From 10 a.m. Saturday until after the Sunday Liturgy the next morning, the children feasted on only juice and water in the Fifth Annual Food Fast retreat at St. Mary of the Presentation. Students in grades eight through 12 from St. Mary’s. Good Shepard, Resurrection, St. Stephen and St. Paul’s Episcopal gathered to learn to live with hunger and poverty. While previous events helped the kids learn about such plights as Haitians and those with AIDS, the 2005 program focused on Native Americans.

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&uot;When you fast,&uot; said Donna Riley, St. Mary’s youth ministry coordinator, &uot;it allows you to feel hunger and pain and open yourself up to the suffering of the people around the world.&uot;

The event started off with a visit from some Native Americans, who taught the kids about life on a reservation and the prejudices that America’s first settlers face. Then, every few hours, they got a gourmet of orange juice.

&uot;With people starving in other countries,&uot; said Lisa Marie Miller, 16, &uot;it helps you understand what that’s like. I’m going to eat a bunch of pancakes tomorrow after church.&uot;

Between sips, the kids played games and worked on several Native American-type projects, like putting together dreamcatchers for when they finally dozed off (they were served with a large breakfast the next morning).

&uot;I think of everyone who goes without food for days at a time,&uot; said Lakeland student Andrea Dobbins, &uot;so this really isn’t that bad when you think about it. You think of how fortunate you are and you want to help people that don’t have food.&uot;

King’s Fork student Patrick Atkins got ready ahead of time.

&uot;I ate a lot of waffles and bacon this morning,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s really not hard, but it would probably be hard if it wasn’t by choice. I’m doing it for my own understanding of hunger.&uot;