I like this area for several reasons, but mostly because we are serving a particularly poor and destitute group of villagers who are always so outgoing and energetic. They know they are poor, but being poor has nothing to do with having fun as a child. The children’s hair is matted with dirt, their clothes carry a shine of dust, their skin is rough and scuffed, yet they are all so happy. Maybe it is because they see these Just One feedings as a holiday, another opportunity to be together and play. They are very eager to engage with me, to sing with Danielle from Canada and to have their photos taken by Tyler from America. Then, it is time to roll out the mats for them to sit on and prepare for the meal. The children kick up a cloud of dust in their eagerness to align themselves in a line on the mats.
The feeding begins promptly at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. The menu is today’s fresh vegetable curry, puris (fried Indian bread) and the children’s favorite dessert, a banana. It is November, the best time of year for the weather in Varanasi, so the climate is perfect. We start slowly with only the local children around Chauka Ghat, but add more from nearby villages as the feeding progresses. All told, the Just One program is responsible for 200 children and 80 elderly and women being fed today. In Indian culture, to feed another person is to receive a blessing from their soul, so know that all of you who participate in the Just One program are receiving these blessings too.