As CURE’s Multimedia Producer, most of my time is spent with a camera in my hands. It is one of my greatest joys.
When I’m home, most of my time is spent with a spatula in my hand, stirring something in one of my vintage cast iron skillets. I love sharing our patients’ stories with people as much as I love sharing homemade food with my friends and family around the kitchen table in our farmhouse.
Unfortunately, some of the children we serve don’t get to experience that joy. To be a kid with a disability in the underserved world is a challenge, and not just a physical one. These kids also face social challenges. Even at meals with their own families, they often don’t get a seat at the table and sometimes only get the scraps of food leftover from the family dinner, all because of the stigma of being disabled.
We needed to set up a photo that depicted this issue, so our Spiritual Director at the time asked a family whose son had been treated at CURE Dominican Republic if they would be willing to help us. (And just for the record, they never treated their son poorly.) They agreed and showed us incredible hospitality, but as much as I love to cook and talk about cooking, once we got there I was more concerned with placing their son Pedro in the best light in the house than with what his mom was making for dinner.
We found out later it was the best meal they’d had in years. It was like a big Christmas dinner in the barrio with meat, rice, and a green salad. What this mom did with such a small kitchen was rather impressive. And she did it with joy. She knew how to cook and showed her kids love and care through food.
There is great joy in feeding people. Twenty years ago I ate fast food and made red beans and rice from a box. Now I am passionate about local, natural foods and I make my red beans and rice from scratch. It’s the same care in craftsmanship I see in the kitchen of our hospital in the Dominican Republic. I’ve talked fried chicken and homemade tortillas with our cooks; I’ve walked around neighborhood bodegas talking cooking technique with our staff, about how all of our teenagers are eating us out of house and home and what we do to fill them up. There are many universalities to be found in a love of feeding people.
And the kitchen staff at our hospitals love feeding people.
In the US, we usually think of hospital food as something undesirable, but in most hospitals in the developing world, the family is responsible for bringing food for the patient. If your family doesn’t bring food, you go hungry.
That doesn’t happen at CURE hospitals.
Patients and their guardians have meals prepared for them by our incredible kitchen staff.
Many of our kids come in malnourished and need some good, healthy food to prepare their bodies for surgery. Just like the care they receive from the medical and spiritual departments, feeding patients is one more way we show love to the kids and families we serve.
Our hospitals provide emotional, physical, and spiritual healing, and sometimes the best way to start the healing process is by giving kids a plate filled with food and a seat at the table.
Meet the kids CURE serves at cure.org/curekids