It is evening in a simple home in Kenya. Four children have had light tea for breakfast and no lunch, but are now waiting for dinner, the only substantial meal they get in a day. Their father died of AIDS many years ago and they now live with their mother who is HIV-positive.
“Mum mum is the food ready soon?” they ask.
“In a little bit,” replies the mother as she adds more firewood under the boiling cooking pot. This was the fifth time she was asked about food being ready that evening. Her youngest child has already fallen asleep on an empty stomach. And sure enough, one by one they each fell asleep as they waited for the food to cook. The last question about dinner was from the oldest girl who eventually gave in and fell asleep too.
After having ensured that all of her children are sleeping, the mother puts out the fire, takes the lid off of the cooking pot, and removes the warm water and few stones she had put in there when the children were outside playing. There was never any food in the pot or in the house for that matter, but she has learned from experience that it is the easiest way for the family to cope with days like these; days without food.
This is not only a true story, but actually a coping strategy that some of our poorest beneficiaries have shared with us. This was often their reality prior to the food assistance that WFP provides to HIV/AIDS patients in Kenya. You don’t often hear these true stories, but it is important that they are told.