April 3, 2023
I don’t want to date myself here, but one of the most influential (or at least traumatizing) movies I have ever seen was called Soylent Green. Without spoiling this for my millennial audience, the movie takes place in a futuristic world where significant overpopulation and a lack of resources has created a global food shortage and forced everyone to have to consume all their nutrition in pill form (or Soylent).
This movie really impacted me during my early undergraduate career, as the nihilist in me saw that this could become reality. Some years later, in a short career in nutraceuticals, that paranoia let me to invest some time and energy (and far too much money) on testing the potential value in Soylent products. Thankfully the concept never took off. It turns out everyday people living in North America aren’t interested in consuming pills or gruel for basic nutrition, let alone paying top dollar for it! Although it was a lost concept, I was thankful that such a dark nutritional reality existed solely in movies, or so I thought.
I’m broadcasting to you today from Chipata, Zambia, where I am embedded with one of our charitable parters, Mary’s Meals. This organization, made up of dedicated humanitarians, is dedicated to providing the most basic nutrition to kids living in some of the poorest regions of the poorest countries of the world. Some of these areas are simply so impoverished that nany children don’t go to school as they have to work the farms (or worse) to find their next meal.
Mary’s Meals has a very simple model. Their sole purview is to provide basic nutrition to kids in schools throughout the developing world, Zambia being one of them. In the areas in which they work, their feeding programs often boost school enrolment by upwards of 50%! By simply providing a nutritionally fortified meal, a porridge that you and I wouldn’t eat any day of the week, they promote education, create safe spaces for these beautiful children, and, bit by bit, slowly help provide access to a better life for those living in extreme poverty - all by way of simple nutrition.
It may not be pretty, but today, in the most remote parts of Africa, this is what philanthropy looks like. It’s not giant cheque, digital video, or front page of @castanet
It’s real, it’s hard, and it’s humbling. Amongst the sobering reality however is something else, a tiny glimmer of hope.
More to come tomorrow. For now, I’m heading back to learn more about this amazing program, and to sling some porridge to some beautiful souls, before ultimately destroying them at a game of soccer!