Saturday, July 7, 2012

day 25: the power of encouragement

I'm dedicating day 25 to this brother and sister I met in the slums of Chennai. Their squatter's home had just been bulldozed by the police. All that remained of their previous make-shift shanty lay in the few scraps you see in the background behind them. Look at the little girl's smile. In one way she's smiling at me, but in a stronger sense, I feel she's smiling because she knows her brother is looking out for her.

Some days I think we all feel like the little girl in this photo. Alone, we're weak, but with someone's arm around us, with that sense of encouragement from others, we get a smile, and we can press on. We can overcome the most dire of circumstances to rise above the despair.

Here he is explaining to us what had just happened. Apparently we had missed the act only by a few moments. You can see the shock in his face as he tries to make us understand--"my home, where I was sleeping just last night, it's now gone, in one minute!" I'll never forget this.

Back to the little girl getting the encouragement from an arm around her. I wanted to share a tangible example. If I were trying to live on $1 of food per day, and it was just me, no blog, no community of support, I would really be struggling to make it. But because of your encouragement, I have a huge advantage.

I'm just convinced that everyone needs encouragement--something, some catalyst to take you from despair to hope, from hope to a determination that you're going to make it, and from a sense of "I'm going to make it" to a creative, almost entrepreneurial drive that allows you to overcome in ways that are beyond anything you could have imagined.

This past 25 days has been just that. I've really surprised myself with what I've been able to come up with in terms of variety and satisfaction from these past 75 meals. And I attribute it all to those of you who've been cheering me on. You see, I believe we're all created to be a light to others, to shine on others' darkness in some way or another. It's just a matter of whether we're going to let that light shine, or keep it to ourselves.

Where you might have guessed I'm going with this... to another real-world example, which is much more poignant than mine. These children in the slums. They have no reason to possess hope. Their identity is that of the untouchable, the slum dweller, the trash-heap scavenger. There's no hope, there's no future for them. But I'm here to testify to the fact that there can be hope. I've seen it in the eyes of these children at The Children's Hope Center--how appropriately named! Here's a picture of that hope in their eyes:

In the same sense, the kids of this education center are getting an arm of support around them. They're thinking, with their new shoes, school uniforms and first-ever school supplies fitting snugly on their backs in their new backpacks... "Wow, I'm going to school? So this is what it feels like to wear a uniform and shoes!" And they're getting some sense of "Hey, I've got a chance at this!"

This glimmer of hope becomes a little light within them. If appropriately fanned through encouragement from teachers and peers, it becomes a fire of passion within them, to overcome, to be creative, to someday start their own business, or learn a special skill they never would have had the vision to believe they could master.

It's beautiful when you think about it. One flame to another, lights going out into the darkness. Will you let yours shine? Will you extend your candle of hope to another in darkness? Or will you just hide it in your own little world of indifference?

Today, I was incredibly encouraged. We received some smaller donations that added up to $125. Why am I so encouraged about this? Because now our total is up to $5,225--10 new children of the slums have received scholarships and are in the process of being enrolled at the Hope Center, and we only need $275 to bring in one more. Will you be a part of helping me get the next child enrolled? You can donate any amount here, and I'm here to tell you that it will make a difference.

On to what I was able to cook up with just $1 today, thanks to your support, encouragement and wonderful recipe suggestions!

Breakfast. Was in a hurry this morning and had to simply throw together a quick batch of oatmeal and raisins, seasoned with none other than my favorite, season-all. It's really good on oatmeal--try it! I think it's partly the conditioning of the past 25 days, but surprisingly, this held me over nicely until lunch.

Lunch. This was my masterpiece of sorts, I'll be honest, I'm kind of proud of this one. Again, a tostada variation, but with fresh chopped carrots and a chopped hard-boiled egg on top of the re-fried bean and brown rice base: this was over-the-top sensational for a meal that cost about 30 cents to make! The kicker--you ready for this? My kids asked me to make these for dinner (from the family stock, not mine, thankfully), and they all loved it and asked for seconds! Yessss! Fist-pump! I'm already thinking about a 30 days on $30, family edition! Hahaa!! Hope my wife's not reading this.

Dinner. Ok, nothing to write home about here, except for one little "rationing victory" story. As you might have noticed (really? I don't expect it, lol), I have not made soup the past two days. So, as a result, I saved up an entire ramen seasoning pack for use in tonight's soup. (It's the little things!) Usually, I would have split the packet up between soups and other dishes across three days. So tonight I had a minestrone-style soup with the added kick of a full packet of "spicy chicken" flavor ramen seasoning--a flavor with a lot of kick to it! As far as soups go, definitely nothing gourmet about it--but it was tasty and it filled me up! Mission accomplished: day 25... done!

Take Action!

1) Please consider giving toward my goal of 10 scholarships for children of the Indian slums. We surpassed our initial goal of $5,000 to cover 10 scholarships, but I want to keep going to see how many more scholarships we can come up with! Every little bit helps!

2) Please visit my unofficial sponsor, through this link. 7% of your purchases made through the link are given to Peace Gospel. If you're in the UK, use this link.

3) If you're compelled by my effort here, please share it with friends. One of the main goals is awareness. So if you can help with that, huge.

4) Leave me feedback. Please comment on this post, especially if you have any ideas about what I should try to cook with these ingredients I have available. I love hearing from you! It really helps!


  1. Kirby,
    I just "found" your blog again through another mutual friend. I'm glad the potatoe pancake turned out so well for you. :-)

  2. Another recipe, cook carrots until soft, season with cinnamen or nutmeg and add raisons. It would be very similar to mashed sweet potatoes. You could eat this with a savory potatoe and rice dish, or even with a hard boiled egg that you could turn into a deviled egg by mixing a little bit of refried bean or potatoe and season all in with it. You would mainly need something pretty moist to mix the yolk with. My mind is on thanksgiving right now, so those flavors are what i would want to be recreating.

    1. Oh, one more thought, I would save the water tgat you use to boil the carrots, it would be a great base for a veg. broth for a soup later in the day.