Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Eat Your Veggies

Yesterday afternoon we were doing an English lesson at my NGO for the "older kids" (5- and 6-years-old) where we showed them common vegetables - onions, butternut squash, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, potatoes - with the intention of teaching them the English words. What we discovered instead was that the children did not even know the Setswana words for the vegetables. I asked the Head Teacher in charge of the lesson about this and she said that she expected this and that it is a big problem, especially for this demographic (orphans and vulnerable children), because no one has ever told them or, in some instances, they have never seen these vegetables before so they just don't know. It struck me as very sad that these children cannot identify the foods they eat (at least when fed at my NGO). How could a parent or caregiver never tell them what they are eating? Or, worse yet, how could they have never seen these very common vegetables? I am not sure if it is because so many of them are orphaned or because the parents/caregivers are too busy or preoccupied to spend the time to teach them but there is obviously a disconnect and the children are suffering as a result. I mean, growing up I remember my mother telling me to "eat your veggies" and who could forget the "Veggie Tales" with their goofy animated vegetables. It is a part of growing up in America and something we obviously take for granted - at least I did. I was truly struck by this. There is a moral in here and something bigger to be learned but, for now, I am just going to try and help these children learn... and maybe give them some extra veggies.

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