Haitians eating dirt to stave off starvation

By April 10, 2008

Haiti (MNN) — Meals these days in Haiti consist of dreams
and dirt. With food prices out of
control and staples scarce, people are taking desperate measures to trick
hunger. 

A two-cup portion of rice costs 60 cents–up 10 cents from
December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have
gone up at a similar rate. That leaves
many only able to afford edible clay which is shaped into a patty and baked in
the sun. 

Bright Hope International's Craig Dyer explains,
"There's always been a medicinal 'cookie' that people would make out of
clay or dirt. And now people are using these to fill their stomachs."  According to recent news stories, pregnant
women in Haiti initially created the cookies as an antacid and a source of
calcium.

Yet a constant diet of these will cause severe malnutrition,
intestinal distress and other harmful effects, particularly for nursing women.

There are few options left. A dirt cookie only costs a buyer five cents,
and since most Haitians live under $2 a day, a dirt cookie is more affordable
than other staples.   

The cookies suck all the moisture out of the mouth and leave
a dirt-covered tongue behind. To bring home the reality of what survival tastes
like, Dyer says, "What Bright Hope
is doing is asking people to make a donation, and we'll send you six of these
cookies, along with some information. Take those to your church, to your
office, and show people." 

The dirt cookies are a symbol of poverty. Tasting them, handling them and seeing them
will bring home the point that there are thousands who are using these to stay
alive. While 100% organic and edible,
they are salty, and the taste stays with you–just like the Haitian version.

Dyer says they're also to encourage others to join the cause
of relieving suffering. Funds raised will
go toward food aid and startup funds for vegetable garden micro-loans.

More than that, Dyer says, it's "seed money" to pave the
way for ministry. "As training
happens with the micro-loans, the love of Christ is shared because people are
wondering, 'Why and how are you helping me?' They come back to you and say,
'This is a blessing to my family. What is it that made you want to do that?' And that's where you can share the message and love of Christ."

Through Bright Hope's partnership with a network of 23
churches in Pignon, Haiti, they have identified the most-needy families in their
communities. Click here if you can help.

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