I joined Eric on the Refugee Diet on Thanksgiving Day not only to support him on a holiday surrounded with an abundance of food but to hopefully make a larger impact on the message of the importance and urgency of Darfur.
I started the morning with the cream of wheat cereal and hot water. I was still hungry after that and I couldn’t wait till my next meal. Lunch of cracked wheat finally came around and I eagerly chowed down only to find that I still had the “I’m ready to eat now” feeling. At times I felt like I was in a daze but I kept myself preoccupied with the company around me. The smells of Thanksgiving dinner cooking began permeating my nostrils and my stomach growled at me. Thanksgiving dinner began and Eric and I began to eat our split peas and cracked wheat. The food being passed around was tempting but I was so ravenous I kept my eye and mouth on my food like a wolf. My stomach started to hurt after the peas and only half of the cracked wheat. Watching Eric over the month I had noticed that it took him a very long time to eat the cracked wheat and sometimes he did not eat all of it. I would ask him “Aren’t you hungry? Why don’t you eat all of your wheat?” and he would reply “Well, the wheat makes me feel full, but yet I am still hungry.” It was hard for me to grasp this concept until I actually tried it. I could only eat half the wheat because my stomach was telling me “no more”, but something deeper inside me still had a feeling of, “this isn’t right, I need something else to be satisfied”. At this point I empathized with Eric, as I now new how he felt when eating the wheat.
Even though it was only a day, not even close to the 5+ years the Darfurians have been on the diet, I can extrapolate my experience and empathize even more with the Darfurians’ struggle. From what I have experienced through all of this, I believe that if people try to empathize by connecting experiences, they will feel more connected to the struggles of others and will therefore be more motivated to help in the fight for peace, justice, and LIFE.
My greatest gratitude and admiration goes out to Jeremiah and Eric for this honorable dedication in the fight and awareness for the Darfurian people, genocide and malnutrition which plagues our world.
Empathy is the greatest of virtues.