It's rice and beans week at the Laney's. It's part fridge clean-out, part charity, and part empathy building. Once a quarter my husband Brent and I don't spend our normal grocery budget on groceries. We purchase a couple essential items: a little milk, bread, rice, and beans. All of our meals for the whole week come from whatever is in our home and those few purchases.
This idea came about this past summer. Brent and I are both news junkies, and found ourselves affected greatly by the dire famine in Eastern Africa. Massive droves of Somali refugees flooded the Dadaab refugee camp in Northern Kenya. People were dying of numerous malnutrition-related diseases. The organization Care has a good description of the Dadaab camp and the food crisis in the Horn of Africa You can check it out here.
The drought made me uncomfortable. I felt powerless and helpless as I looked at picture after picture of malnourished babies, the masses of suffering people and the extreme lack of supplies. Usually I would look, and perhaps share a few articles telling people that we need to take action. I'd contact a few congressmen and would ask them to send aid. Then I'd move on with my life. But this time I wanted to do more. Brent wanted to do more. We discussed our options and came up with 'Rice and Beans Week'. It was a spin off from a movement I had seen on Facebook for people to eat rice and beans for lent. We decided to donate all of our grocery money for one week to one of our favorite humanitarian organizations, Samaritan's Purse. Samaritan's Purse is excellent, I have seen their work firsthand in several countries and completely trust their financials. They are truly seeking to care for the suffering in the name of Jesus, and they do it well.
The week was great. We got creative with our rice and beans. We cleaned out our fridge, using condiments and leftovers to add to our meal. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and drank water instead of juice or coke. We used spices to add flavor and variety. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we decided to make 'Rice and Beans Week' a quarterly occurrence. We have never experienced true hunger, but eliminating comfort foods and the plethora of options we usually enjoy is a good reminder of our blessings. We are able to donate extra money apart from our normal giving to help people who are truly suffering. It hasn't been difficult finding humanitarian crises or organizations to support. There is plenty of need. For this Rice and Beans Week, we will be donating our money to support those affected by the crisis in the Sahel. This is a dramatic situation that is getting worse by the day. You can read about the Sahel crisis here or here. We don't know what organization we will support yet, but will figure that out by the end of this week.
'Rice and Beans Week' seems like such a small way to try to help people who are suffering in massive ways. I acknowledge that. I know that our seventy dollars won't change the world. But it could save several lives. Also, I remember that small things done by many people equal big change. If every person in the United States gave their grocery budget once a quarter to help those suffering from starvation and malnutrition, we could make big changes- we could change the world. So I refuse to live in my apathy, I'm not going to turn off the TV and go about my life. I'm taking small steps to change the world. You're welcome to join me.