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Making Life-and-Death Choices

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1 Making Life-and-Death Choices
Hungry Decisions Making Life-and-Death Choices "A large proportion of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night." Though we have heard this many times, most of us cannot comprehend it. We cannot fathom the suffering. We cannot grasp the difficulties faced right now by millions of people who are barely clinging to the edge of life. But it may help us understand their plight and sense our kinship with them if, in our imaginations, we try to make some of the tough survival choices that such people are facing day after day. To begin the exercise, go to the Slide Show menu and click View Show. Read through the first three slides, then click Male Story or Female Story to begin your journey.

2 Making Life-and-Death Choices
Hungry Decisions Making Life-and-Death Choices On the following pages you will take the part of a man or woman who is trying to eke out a living in a poor rural area of a developing nation. At the end of each page you will face a difficult decision between two courses of action. Your choice of one or the other will direct you to another page, where the consequences of your decision will lead to a new dilemma, another choice, another page and so on – and finally to one or another of sixteen possible endings. The story of your life – your very survival and that of your family – will depend on how you make these "hungry decisions."

3 Making Life-and-Death Choices
Hungry Decisions Making Life-and-Death Choices You are invited to work through each decision thoughtfully, weighing the pros and cons of both alternatives. Of course, this story is fictitious and oversimplified. But "any resemblance to real persons, living or dead," is very intentional! The story is true, many times over. Perhaps as you take part in this story you will gain a greater sensitivity to your brothers and sisters around the globe, trapped by poverty and injustice, who are making these very decisions as you read. Begin Male Story Begin Female Story

4 Hungry Decisions Male Story m1
You were born in a rural area of Africa, southern Asia, Central America or South America. You have survived childhood and grown to become a man. Being somewhat more fortunate than most, you have leased four acres of farmland on which you grow half your crops. Today there is great celebration in your family for you have married a young woman and are establishing a home. When there is no evidence of your having children within the first year, your families become worried about your security. They remind you that children are necessary to assist with the farm labor and, with no government or other pension plan, to care for you in your old age. Probably eight to ten children will need to be conceived to guarantee that some children survive disease and malnutrition. And there will be extra mouths to feed long before they can help with farm labor or provide for your support. You and your wife discuss whether or not you will have children. If you decide to have children, click here and continue your story. If you decide not to have children, click here and continue your story. m1

5 Hungry Decisions Male Story m2
Six years have passed since your marriage, and your wife and you have had three children that survived out of the five that were born. The oldest, a daughter, can help a little with the work, but the other two children, both boys, are still too young. Last year’s harvest provided you with barely enough to live on, but you have planned well and have stored some food for your family to eat. As the year passes your food supply begins to run low and you are able to obtain only about three-fourths of the minimum number of calories needed for a person who works in the fields. Because of your diet, you are exhausted after five or six hours of work. It is nearing time to plant grain for the new year. Fertilizer will help keep the field producing and increase the yield per acre, yet petroleum (a major ingredient in purchased fertilizer) has tripled in cost, causing the price of fertilizer to triple also. Since the grain you set aside last fall will now buy only one-third of the minimal amount of fertilizer you need, you and your wife consider the possibility of selling some of your food grain to buy fertilizer for the fields. If you decide to sell some of your grain, click here to continue your story. If you decide to save your grain for food and not fertilize your field, click here and continue your story. m2

6 Hungry Decisions Male Story m3
Six years have passed, and without children, you and your wife have borne the brunt of many whispered conversations and jokes. The work on your farm is not going as well as you hoped, and though you and your wife have enough food, you are not getting ahead. Fertilizer has tripled in cost because of increased prices for oil (a major ingredient in fertilizer), and your landlord expects more and more production from your land. You have seen some of your fellow farmers leave for the city to seek jobs, stimulated by rumors that the government is starting some factories there. You see little hope for grain where you are, as something always happens to destroy your hoped-for profits. Yet the city jobs are just rumors to you. You and your wife discuss whether to leave your acres here and seek your fortune in the city or to stay and try to make a go of it. If you decide to stay on your acreage, click here and continue your story. If you decide to seek work in the city, giving up farming and your land lease, click here and continue your story. m3

7 Hungry Decisions Male Story m4
This spring another girl is born into your family, your fourth child. You wish that you could provide a little extra food for your wife and baby. Because of the grain you sold to purchase fertilizer, your family food supply has dwindled to almost nothing. Your children have not complained, but you can see that they are undernourished. You and your whole family have had to cut back on rations. On a trip to the village nearby to see your landlord, you come upon your own children among the many young ones rummaging through garbage dumps, gobbling up whatever they find that is edible, and searching through cow dung for undigested grain to eat. You stop, sickened and angry by what you see and by your inability to provide adequately for your family. You wonder what to do about your children’s behavior. If you decide to stop your children, forbidding them from ever rummaging in the garbage again, click here to continue your story. If you decide not to say a word to your children, click here and continue your story. m4

8 Hungry Decisions Male Story m5
Another year has passed and a new daughter is born, giving you four children and creating a need to provide more food for your family. Because of the lack of fertilizer, your fields are not producing well and the food you have continues to be too little. But you and your family are managing to survive by being inactive for long periods of the day, thus using fewer calories. Your inactivity and lack of enough food require that you be near a fire during the cold months. You live a long way from any wood, for closer resources have been depleted by previous generations that did not replant. Dried cow dung has become the chief source of fuel in your area, and your children have been out gathering dung which you hope can be split between fuel and fertilizer. Everyone in the house is cold, especially at night. You and your wife discuss how much of the dung to use for fertilizer, knowing that what you put on the field will deprive the family of needed heat. If you decide to use all the dung to burn for heat, click here and continue your story. If you decide to use half the dung for fertilizer, burning the rest for heat, click here to continue your story. m5

9 Hungry Decisions Male Story m6
You continue to work hard in the fields and eke out a bare living for you and your wife. Because you have had no help in the fields, much of your time is spent carrying buckets of water to irrigate the land. The work is a little more than you can handle by yourself, and you are beginning to walk stooped because of all the water carrying. You have heard of water pumps and wish you could own one. It would ease your workload and allow you more time to keep the weeds and rocks out of your fields and to make needed repairs. With your brother-in-law, who farms the acres next to you, you have the opportunity to buy either a gasoline pump or a bicycle-pedal pump. The gasoline pump would not require your time and energy to run, but it would require the purchase of gasoline. Both are available from your landlord along with financing terms. You will have to borrow a portion of the cost from the landlord. You and your wife decide to buy a pump with your brother-in-law and discuss whether to purchase the bicycle-pedal or gasoline pump. If you decide to buy the gasoline-powered pump, click here to continue your story. If you decide to buy the bicycle-pedal pump, click here to continue your story. m6

10 Hungry Decisions Male Story m7
Leaving your farm, you travel to the city, a sack of grain on your back. Your spirits are high with the hope of finding decent work there. The lease on your land has been quickly given to another family, for your landlord does not want the land to be idle. The new tenants were moving in almost before you and your wife could move out. Arriving late one day in the city, you find the streets crowded with traffic and with others like you who have come seeking work. The rumors that you heard about factories are true, but it seems that there are more people looking for jobs than there are jobs. After two months and trips to many factories and other places of possible employment, you still do not have a job. Twice you came close to a job, but each time someone just before you was hired. The grain you brought with you ran out a week ago; you are very frustrated, hungry and almost without energy. Your wife is very frail. Neither the government nor the religious institutions you have visited have been able to help. You and your wife talk about your survival and whether you might beg or even steal to live. If you decide to begin stealing and begging for food, click here to continue your story. If you decide to do some begging while still trying to find work (knowing the begging will not provide enough food for you and your wife), click here and continue your story. m7

11 Hungry Decisions Male Story m8
During the next five years you and your wife have three more children. Two die in infancy; the other (a girl) lives, giving you five children. As the children grow up they need more food; and even though your yield has increased a little because of the fertilizer you have put on your fields, food is becoming more of a problem for you and your family. To make matters worse, the cost of goods and materials has increased sharply, more than absorbing your increased yield. You had hoped that more land would be available for you to farm. Members of your family go hungry every day. A wealthy man in town has offered you some money if your oldest daughter will come and live with him. He needs help cleaning the house, cooking the meals; and since he is all alone, he wants companionship. The money would be enough to buy some of the land you farm. This would provide more grain for your family, for less money would be needed for lease payments. You and your wife discuss the merits and the dangers of allowing your daughter to go with this man. If you decide to sell your daughter to this man, click here and continue your story. If you refuse the offer, keeping your family together, click here and continue your story. m8

12 Hungry Decisions Male Story m9
During the past five years you and your wife have given birth to two more children that live (a boy and a girl), giving you six children in all. As a result of your older children’s poor diet and their eating garbage from the streets, three of them have become seriously ill and have severe diarrhea. They are increasingly weakened and can barely rise off their sleeping mats. Medical help is available free, but it is three days’ journey by foot (the only means of travel available to you). The children are weak and would need to be carried most of the way. You would have to be away from your fields for a week. You and your wife discuss the health of the children and the danger to your fields from stray cattle, flood and theft. If you decide to seek medical help for your children, click here and continue your story. If you decide to treat the illness at home as best you can, including giving the ill children a large portion of the daily grain allotment, click here and continue your story. m9

13 Hungry Decisions Male Story m10
With another child surviving birth during these next five years, you now have five children at home. The warmth from the cow dung has been especially helpful for your family, and you sleep warmly at night. Your family is still hungry, however, and you are wishing for a way to increase your harvest of grain. A missionary is speaking in the village and indicates that there is a grain that will produce a greater yield per acre. It is available at the same cost as the seed you have been using and has been grown successfully in some other countries halfway around the world, but it has never been tried here. You would like to have a greater yield but are afraid that it might not work. If it were to fail, or produce less than your present yield, some of your family would surely starve to death. Even now you are on the edge of starvation. You and your wife discuss whether you can risk trying the new grain. If you decide to take the risk and plant the new grain, click here and continue your story. If you decide to continue to plant the grain you have used in past years, click here and continue your story. m10

14 Hungry Decisions Male Story m11
A new baby boy is born during this season, giving you five children. Spring has continued to be cold and very hard on you and your family. The low food level and the cold in the house brought about by too little fuel to burn have been too much for some of your children. Two of your children, the new baby and your oldest daughter, have severe colds, probably pneumonia. They are listless and cough almost continually. Medical help is available free, but it is three days’ journey from your home. A trip to and from the medical center would take a week. You and your wife talk about the trip, the health of the children and the possible loss to your crops from cattle, theft or flood while you are gone. If you decide to seek medical help for the children, click here and continue your story. If you decide to treat the children the best you can at home, click here and continue your story. m11

15 Hungry Decisions Male Story m12
After purchasing the gasoline pump, you and your brother-in-law work to install it, getting additional help to do what you do not know how to do. The pump works quite well, saving you much time. For the first time you are able to get enough water on your fields. But the worldwide oil problem is affecting the use of gasoline in your country. Not only has the price risen, but there is less available because your country is importing less. You have to buy gasoline for the pump and have waited in line for as long as two days, wasting precious time that could have been spent in the fields. There is no more gas right now, but some has been promised in three days. You believe you are close enough to the front of the line to buy gas if it comes (delivery times are unreliable). Your wife comes to see what is taking you so long. You and your wife discuss whether you should stay in line or leave for home. If you decide to continue to stand in line, hoping the gasoline will come, click here to continue your story. If you decide to go home with your wife and without the gasoline, losing your place in line, click here and continue your story. m12

16 Hungry Decisions Male Story m13
The bicycle-pedal pump is working quite well. You do spend a little more time pedaling than you would like, but it takes far less time than carrying the water did. Your yield has increased, because for once you have enough water on your fields. Partly because of your higher yield, you have the opportunity to lease a larger plot of land about six days' journey from your present farm. The terms of the lease are the same as you have now. But if you move you will need to start from the beginning. About half your tools (including the pump) you own jointly with your brother-in-law. The investment would need to be divided, thereby placing a financial burden on both of you to buy new tools. On the other hand, more land to work would give you the opportunity to raise more grain and, perhaps, to save money for old age. You and your wife talk about the possibility of staying or leaving for the new farm. If you decide to take the opportunity and move, click here and continue your story. If you decide to decline the offer and stay where you are, click here and continue your story. m13

17 Hungry Decisions Male Story m14
You feel desperate and depressed. You no longer even think about what you are doing, but now regularly beg in the streets. If the occasion presents itself, you steal so that you and your wife may eat. Your wife has started to beg in the streets also. For a while you have lived in this desperate state and survived. Today, however, as you are stealing some rice at the market, you are observed by the shopkeeper. He shouts, “Thief! Thief!” at the top of his lungs, and police who are nearby begin running toward you. In panic you turn to run – but then wonder if you should just give up. If you run to avoid arrest, click here and continue your story. If you stay and admit your guilt, click here and continue your story. m14

18 Hungry Decisions Male Story m15
Begging is hard on you and you don’t do it very well. Not only does it produce very little food, but it is degrading. You have been looking hard for a job in the city, but to no avail. Then, almost at the same time, you receive news of two intriguing possibilities: Your brother-in-law would like you to help on his farm, and a Government Communal Farm is seeking new workers. Returning to your brother-in-law’s farm would strengthen family ties, though you would need to hire yourself out to some other farms too. The Government Commune would provide work for as long as you are able. You and your wife discuss the two possibilities. If you decide to go to your brother-in-law’s farm, click here to continue your story. If you decide to go to the Government Commune, click here to continue your story. m15

19 Hungry Decisions Male Story m16
You have sold your daughter to a rather wealthy village man, and you never hear of her or see her again. In making some inquiries you learn that after a year they moved out of town. No one knows quite where they have gone. You continue to work your acres, and because of the land you bought you are able to provide enough food for your family. In some ways the children at home resent you for selling their sister, and the confidence they had in you has eroded. As you and your wife grow older your children provide for you, as is their duty. But you can sense their resentment. Life is not happy. The end. reflection m16

20 Hungry Decisions Male Story m17
As usual, food continues to be a problem. Because of inflation, what little gains you have made with fertilizer have been swallowed up. Your children continue to be hungry but do feel close to you as parents. As you grow older and can no longer work in the fields, your children take over the land lease along with two more acres they have been able to secure. From their meager yields they gladly provide food for you and your wife. Three of your five children marry, and you rejoice with them. The End. reflection m17

21 Hungry Decisions Male Story m18
The journey to the medical center is more difficult than you anticipated. Carrying your children has proven to be a challenging task. One of your ill children dies on the way. On the return trip you walk on ahead of your wife, who comes more slowly with the children. Your grief over the loss of your child is compounded when you arrive home and find about one-half acre of crops has been destroyed by stray animals. This is a great setback for you. During the next year another child dies of malnutrition. As you grow older your remaining four children take over some of your work. When you and your wife must leave the fields for good, your children care for you. The End. reflection m18

22 Hungry Decisions Male Story m19
Your ill children continue to get weaker. There is not enough food for you to reallocate to them without a serious sacrifice. You and your wife give up most of your food. Still, two of the sick children die within a few weeks. The third survives and slowly gains strength. As a result of your sacrifice the fields suffer a little, and the yield is smaller. Your family works hard together and feels very close. As you grow older your children take their responsibilities seriously and are able to increase some of the yield. When you and your wife can no longer work, they care for you. reflection m19

23 Hungry Decisions Male Story m20
You plant the new grain. That first year you discover you should have fertilized the field before you planted, for the new grain requires a richer soil. Your fields as a whole produce less grain than before. Only the super yield on a half-acre of your best soil saves you from disaster. A gift of fertilizer from a Christian church to all the farmers associated with your village helps you out the next year. Your fields are now producing one-and-one-half times what they were, and for the first time in your life you are beginning to live more comfortably. As you grow older your five children are able to care for you and to establish working fields of their own. Even today you are grateful for the timely gift of fertilizer that enabled you to survive that year of the bad crop. reflection m20

24 Hungry Decisions Male Story m21
The yield of your farm continues to be about the same as in the past years, except for two consecutive years when there is a bad drought. Two of your children and your wife die in these years. You continue to struggle, and your three remaining children work hard. Inflation becomes more of a burden and you seem to have less to eat. Even though your children provide for you when your ability to work ceases, you feel somehow that life has defeated you. The End. reflection m21

25 Hungry Decisions Male Story m22
The trip to the medical center is a long and hard one. The two sick children continue to get worse as the damp, windy air adds to their illness. One of them dies before you arrive, and the other dies at the medical center. Your wife becomes ill on the trip and you must leave her at the center to get well. Upon returning home you find that erosion from a broken dike has destroyed about one-half acre of crops. With the depression from all that has happened the last few weeks and your exhaustion from the journey, it is many days before you can work. Your remaining three children help as best they can, and after a few weeks your wife returns. The years pass. You and your wife grow old together. Your farm is producing less than it did a few years ago because of the erosion, but you have a little better yield than when you started. You are surviving. reflection m22

26 Hungry Decisions Male Story m23
The house that you live in is cold, and you cannot keep it warm for the children. You look for cow dung to burn, but there is little to be found. The two sick children continue to have a rough time, and one finally dies. The other survives but is very weak and unable to do any work for many years. You also become ill, and though you live, you are quite weakened and unable to work the fields. Your children take over and work hard. With your wife they are able to maintain the minimum yield. In old age you see your farm worked by your children. The production is about what you were able to get in your prime. Times remain hard for everyone. The End. reflection  m23

27 Hungry Decisions Male Story m24
The gasoline does come after about six days, and you are able to buy some. You continue to have problems securing gasoline, and this takes much of the time the pump saves you. So you come out about even. You are able to stay just ahead of the rising costs but are not able to put anything away for old age. As you grow older your productivity begins to lag, and the owner of the land threatens to find someone else to lease it. You are forced to take in help to share the workload and the yield. It turns out that this is not as bad as you thought, for while you stand in gasoline lines the other person can work. Your yield shows an increase. With a promise of land, your worker cares for you quite well until you can no longer work. But once the lease is transferred to him, you are given barely enough to survive. You go to bed very hungry every night. The End. reflection m24

28 Hungry Decisions Male Story m25
Discouraged, you go home without the gasoline. You and your brother-in-law go back to carrying pails of water. Because of the time this takes and the loan on the pump you still must pay off, you have less grain and your food supply is decreased. Your wife becomes very ill because of lack of food. She lives, but never again has much energy. As you grow older you lose the farm because you can no longer work it. Your brother-in-law’s children take over your fields as well as his and provide some food for your older years. The End. reflection m25

29 Hungry Decisions Male Story m26
Moving has proven to be a hardship for you. The new tools that you have needed to replace those your brother owned cost more than you expected, and the extra acres are a lot more work. You did not realize how much help your nieces and nephews had been on your old farm. As a result, you must now hire some of the extra work done. The wages and the tool debt eat up the extra profit you were expecting. After many years of hard work you finally begin to gain a little extra. But as you grow older you find that your reserves are not enough to support you for very long. Your old age is spent begging for food. The End. reflection m26

30 Hungry Decisions Male Story m27
The work becomes easier for you and your brother-in-law. Though you never get much ahead, you do for the first time have enough food to eat. Years go by and your land improves as you fertilize it and use better grain. After many years your yield has improved considerably. When the time comes that you must slow down because of old age, you accept one of your brother-in-law’s children to work the farm and eventually assume the lease. You and your wife are taken care of by your brother-in-law’s children. The End. reflection m27

31 Hungry Decisions Male Story m28
Caught in an act of theft, you run from the police as fast as you can. Due to your very poor diet, you do not have much energy and are sickly. But you are desperate, and you run long and hard. You dart in and out of shops, crowds, and animals. Just as it seems you have eluded the police, you fall down from exhaustion. It becomes almost impossible to get your breath, and your chest is filled with pain. Soon, there in the street, you die. The End. reflection m28

32 Hungry Decisions Male Story m29
Being caught in the act of theft awakens you to the sort of life you have been leading. You admit your guilt to the police and tell your tale of misfortune. You describe the time you have spent hunting for work, your frustration at not finding any, you and your wife’s starvation and your seeking of help. The authorities have heard this story before and are not impressed. You are put in jail with many others caught by the same circumstances and decisions. The End. reflection m29

33 Hungry Decisions Male Story m30
Returning to your brother-in-law’s farm, you work hard. But he does not need you full time, and you are placing a food strain on his family. You hire yourself out to other farmers. By working longer and harder than you have ever done, you are just able to provide for you and your wife. You are always in a state of exhaustion. However, it is better than your life in the city. As you grow older you would like to lessen your work, but you do not know how, for there is no one to care for you. Weaker and weaker, you continue to work until finally you drop dead in the fields. The End. reflection m30

34 Hungry Decisions Male Story m31
Crowded in the back of a truck, you travel to the commune and are given a small one-room house to live in. Even with all your farming experience you must start as a first-year worker and labor hard in the fields. The work is difficult, and you don’t always know which fields you are to work. Often you are placed in fields that have not been properly cared for. As you grow older you must continue to work, for the commune has no retirement plan. Until your last days you are laboring in the fields, just as you did as a youth many years ago. The End. reflection m31

35 Hungry Decisions Female Story f1
You were born in a rural area of Africa, southern Asia, Central America or South America. You survived childhood and at age fourteen were given in marriage by your parents. By now you have lived with your husband and his people for six years, giving birth to four daughters in that time. You live and eat by raising crops on a four-acre leased farm. You want to have more children, and especially sons. Children are important on a farm because they help in the fields and about the home. They are also an indication of your fertility and, therefore, a status symbol. Lately though, there has been a government movement toward smaller families. Besides, all of you go to bed still hungry each night. You and your husband discuss whether or not you should have more children. If you decide to have more children, click here and continue your story. If you decide not to have more children, click here and continue your story. f1

36 Hungry Decisions Female Story f2
You give birth to a daughter who is sickly and dies shortly. Soon you are again working your full load of grinding the grains and preparing meals for your family, tilling the fields, carrying wood and water, washing clothes and taking care of children. This year it is very dry. You must carry water all the time, it seems, trying to keep your crops alive. Your husband knows there will be a small harvest, so he decides to go to the city to see if he can find work. With the help of your daughters you try to do the farm work while he is gone. A buyer comes to your area to ask for handmade goods to sell in the markets of the city. He will buy items from you for cash and will come every two weeks to buy more. You must decide whether to spend some of your time making handmade items or to spend all of your available time carrying the needed water for the crops. If you decide to make handmade items, click here and continue your story. If you decide to carry water for the crops full time, click here and continue your story. f2

37 Hungry Decisions Female Story f3
The government-sponsored family planning clinic chooses a contraceptive plan for you to go along with your wishes for no more children for the time being. While you are there at the clinic, you learn of a women’s textile cooperative that instructs women in the use of cloth dyes and patterns and then markets the finished products. You are interested. You could participate in the work of the cooperative by coming to the center one day a week. However, that would mean valuable time away from the fields and home. You and your husband discuss whether you should join the cooperative or spend all your time continuing the necessary work at home and in the fields. If you decide to join the textile cooperative, click here and continue your story. If you decide to work at home all of the time, click here and continue your story. f3

38 Hungry Decisions Female Story f4
Your husband earns very little in the city, barely enough to buy food for himself. When he returns in the spring, he brings no extra money. During the winter you and your daughters survive on the little money you earn from your handmade items and by reducing your meals to two a day. Within the year you give birth again, this time to a son. You are extremely weakened and your son is not gaining weight. You have heard that a bus delivers infant formula once a week to a nearby village. You wonder if your son would be healthier drinking the infant formula than the milk from your weakened body. You and your husband discuss whether or not you should continue breastfeeding your son or try to get the infant formula. If you continue to breastfeed, click here and continue your story. If you decide to try the infant formula, click here and continue your story.  f4

39 Hungry Decisions Female Story f5
It no longer seems worth your while to stay on your farm. The weather is so dry that no crops will grow, except for a few vegetables that you must water daily. If you went to the city, you and your family could be reunited with your husband, and probably you could sell your handmade items for more money there. Still, if you give up the lease on your land, it will be almost impossible to ever lease land again. You must decide whether to leave your land and go to the city or to stay on your land until it once again is possible to farm. If you decide to go to the city, click here and continue your story. If you decide to stay on the farm, click here and continue your story. f5

40 Hungry Decisions Female Story f6
At first you spend one day a week learning at the textile center, taking your younger daughters with you. You have not earned any money yet, since you are just beginning. Your husband misses your help in the fields and is impatient with you to earn some money to make up for the time away from your work. In addition to field work, you grind grains and cook food, carry wood and water, wash clothes and care for your small children. Also at the center is a reading class. You would like to go to it. You had one year at a mission school when you were young, and you remember how exciting it was. This would mean almost another full day away from home. You and your husband discuss whether or not you should take the reading class. If you decide to take the reading class, click here and continue your story. If you decide not to take part in the class, click here and continue your story. f6

41 Hungry Decisions Female Story f7
Several years go by. Your life is hard. There is always worry about lack of food and whether there will be a good harvest. You never have any extra food and sometimes you go to bed hungry. Your daughters are growing up, and soon the oldest will be ready for marriage. During the rainy season your husband becomes very ill with a high fever. You care for him, but he becomes weaker and weaker. Finally he dies and you are in agony. For a time everyone tries to comfort and help you. After a while, though, you realize that you are no longer welcome to live with your husband’s people because you have no sons. You think about moving back to your family’s people or going to the city to live. If you decide to move back to your family’s people, click here and continue your story. If you decide to move to the city to live, click here and continue your story. f7

42 Hungry Decisions Female Story f8
You and your son are weak but he is growing. Your oldest daughter is now seven, old enough to go to the mission school some twenty miles away. She would have to live there and come home only once in a while. Your husband says she is just getting big enough to be a real help in the fields. It is, however, very important to you that your daughters learn to read and write. You had one year of mission school and you remember how satisfying it was. You and your husband discuss whether or not to let your daughter go away to the mission school. If you decide to let her go to the school, click here and continue your story. If you decide that you need to keep her at home, click here and continue your story. f8

43 Hungry Decisions Female Story f9
At first your son grows quickly on the formula and you grow stronger too. Then one day he suddenly becomes very ill. Your husband stops his field work to walk the distance to the medical center. He is told that probably the formula was kept too long after it was mixed with water and that it has spoiled. He brings some medicine back with him to be given to the boy. You are suspicious of the medicine because the formula they gave you made him sick. Maybe the medicine will make him worse. But maybe he will die if you do not give it to him. You and your husband discuss whether to give him the medicine or not. If you decide to give your son the medicine, click here and continue your story. If you decide not to give your son the medicine, click here and continue your story. f9

44 Hungry Decisions Female Story f10
Your stay in the city is short. You and your husband are reunited but you almost starve. You cannot sell enough baskets and he can only rarely find work. You leave the city and are fortunate to find work on an irrigated, foreign-owned plantation. Now your whole family works there for several seasons. Two of your daughters marry laborers here on the plantation. Then your husband becomes too ill to work the long hours in the fields. Now you and your younger daughters must earn enough to provide food and clothing for the family. A further problem is that women are paid less than men for the same amount of work. Children are paid even less. Therefore, the three of you are now earning about the same as one adult male. Some of the workers have been trying to organize a union to demand increased wages and a school for the children. So far no women are active in the union. You and your husband discuss whether or not you, a woman, should try to be active in the efforts of the union to demand better wages. If you decide to try to be active in the union, click here and continue your story. If you decide not to try and join the union, click here and continue your story. f10

45 Hungry Decisions Female Story f11
You manage to survive with the small earnings from your handmade items and by raising a few vegetables. Your husband has not returned. The growing season is now so dry that there is barely any water for drinking or cooking for anyone. Once a week water is delivered to your area by truck. Yesterday the truck did not come as scheduled. There is a train that goes by a few miles away. The boiler has water in it and there may be other water on it. Some of your people want to stop the train to get the water. Their plan is to make a mound of many people on the tracks so that the train will stop. You decide whether or not you will join your relatives and friends in their efforts to stop the train. If you decide to join the efforts to stop the train, click here and continue your story. If you decide against joining the efforts to stop the train, click here and continue your story. f11

46 Hungry Decisions Female Story f12
You are learning to read and you are happy. Also, you have some earnings from your share of cloth sold by the cooperative. You would like to buy a mechanical wheel for grinding grain. It would save you and your daughters four to six hours a day pounding the grain into flour. But your husband wants to use the money to buy more fertilizer for next year’s crops. You discuss whether you should buy the wheel or the fertilizer. If you decide to buy the grinding wheel, click here and continue your story. If you decide to buy fertilizer, click here and continue your story. f12

47 Hungry Decisions Female Story f13
You work long hours: cooking, washing, helping in the fields and textile dyeing at the cooperative. Although your wages are small, your husband seems to be uncomfortable with your new earning power. He wants to make some money too. Instead of continuing to lease the land you farm, he would like to move and go to work at the foreign-owned plantation as a laborer. You would still be close enough to get to the cooperative to make and sell your cloth, but as a family you would have no place to grow your own food. And you might never be able to find any land to lease again if you wanted to. You and your husband discuss whether or not to give up the lease on this land and move to the plantation, where your husband would be a wage-earner. If you decide to move to the plantation, click here and continue your story. If you decide to remain on your leased land, click here and continue your story. f13

48 Hungry Decisions Female Story f14
Back in the village of your birth, all the widows and other women who are alone work a plot of poor land set aside for them and their children. An agricultural development expert is coming to talk to the men about new ideas for bigger crop yields. You know that as women you are not welcome, but you all go anyway and listen, sitting behind the men. Together you women decide whether to try the new ideas on your piece of land, knowing that the men may not like it, or just to keep doing things as you have been. If you decide to implement the new ideas, click here and continue your story. If you decide to keep on farming the old ways, click here and continue your story. f14

49 Hungry Decisions Female Story f15
You have heard of factory work. Early each morning you go and wait in the hiring line, but in vain. You also hear that there are usually servant jobs available in certain parts of the city. You know that the factory work will pay you more than servant work, but you are desperate for money to buy food. What little grain you brought with you is now gone. You discuss with your daughters whether you should continue to wait in the line for work at the factory or try to find a servant job. If you decide to wait in line, click here and continue you story. If you decide to look for a servant job, click here and continue your story. f15

50 Hungry Decisions Female Story f16
You become weaker. So your sister-in-law takes over the breastfeeding of your son, and your husband gives you some of his share of the food. Gradually you gain strength and your son continues to grow. Eventually you become strong enough to grind the grain, prepare all the food and carry the daily water supply. Your husband sends you to the family planning clinic. He doesn’t want to have more children now. Your oldest daughter comes home every six weeks and shows you what she has learned. How pleased you are! The End. reflection f16

51 Hungry Decisions Female Story f17
You never regain your health, partly because there is not enough food for you. You are able only to do the food preparation each day. Then in the winter you become sick with pneumonia. Your oldest daughter begins to assume general responsibility for the home. She and the younger girls do your work and take care of your son. You die at age 23. The End. reflection f17

52 Hungry Decisions Female Story f18
Your son gets well. You will not give him any more formula. Instead, one of your sisters-in-law breastfeeds him and he begins to gain weight. Though he is small, he is healthy. And you are greatly relieved. The End. reflection f18

53 Hungry Decisions Female Story f19
Your son becomes sicker and dies. You are sad, angry and bitter, blaming the formula. But you must go on with your daily life and work in order that the rest of your family may be taken care of. A year later one of your daughters becomes ill. This time you do not seek help from the medical center. The End. reflection f19

54 Hungry Decisions Female Story f20
Because of your union activities, you are suspended from working. Your daughters are allowed to work, however. Their meager earnings and the food given by your older daughters and their husbands are what sustain you and your sick husband. You appeal to the union to take your case to the government, but you haven’t much hope of that. The End. reflection f20

55 Hungry Decisions Female Story f21
You remember how close to starvation you once were. You do have work here, however meager the wages. You hope the union succeeds in getting higher wages, but you dare not risk being a part of it. You might lose your job, and you do not know how you would take care of your husband then. reflection f21

56 Hungry Decisions Female Story f22
The water from the train supplies your people for another two weeks. You know that the next time the train might not stop. Your husband’s people pack their few belongings and begin toward a refugee camp far away. You and your daughters go with them. The End. reflection f22

57 Hungry Decisions Female Story f23
You get up very early in the morning to collect water from cloths laid out to gather moisture from what little dew there is. You squeeze the cloths and get a little drinking water, but there is not enough for cooking food. Some mornings there is not enough moisture to wring out any water at all. You pray that the rains will come soon, but you are not hopeful. You are very weak and know that you and your daughters may die soon. The End. reflection f23

58 Hungry Decisions Female Story f24
All of you are pleased with your new grinding wheel and the hours of work it saves in the grinding of grain, even your husband. He laughs and says that soon you will be able to buy him a new pump for a well and someday a new tractor for his fields! The End. reflection f24

59 Hungry Decisions Female Story f25
The fertilizer helps produce a greater yield in your crops this year. You have more than enough grain to last through the winter. At the cooperative you are now teaching other women how to dye cloth in traditional patterns. You are very happy. The End. reflection f25

60 Hungry Decisions Female Story f26
Your husband happily works among the other men in the fields, even though the hours are long and the wages are slim. You and your daughters work in the fields, too, but one day a week you all go to the cooperative along with some of the other wives of plantation workers whom you have persuaded to go along. The future looks promising. The End. reflection f26

61 Hungry Decisions Female Story f27
You stop your learning and working at the cooperative. You and your husband work side by side for years, good seasons and bad. You have seen your daughters marry. Some have moved away with their husbands. One day, in his old age, your husband dies in the fields. You continue to work as much as you can. Your daughter and her husband take you into their home. Two seasons of drought have hit the land. Food is scarce. Your grandchildren become too thin. There would be more food for the younger ones who need their strength for work if they had your portion. You think of voluntarily starving yourself and begin to eat less. The End. reflection f27

62 Hungry Decisions Female Story f28
The men are angry because you women came to the meeting and because you are now competing with them. Their wives shun you. The men insist that you shall be the last ones to use the new community tractor, donated by an overseas church, and that you shall have to buy your own gasoline. They see that you receive only the seed that is left over after they have planted their fields. In spite of this treatment, you continue to farm. The End. reflection f28

63 Hungry Decisions Female Story f29
You women eke out a survival living, as you always have, through many hours of back-breaking labor in the fields and in the homes. Still, that is not enough to feed all of you and your children. Some of you collect dry dung to sell for fuel so that there will be money to buy some of the food you cannot produce. Sometimes the other families bring you small amounts of grain or vegetables from their fields. The future seems bleak. The End. reflection f29

64 Hungry Decisions Female Story f30
Soon you realize that very few women are being hired. You are despondent. Your hope was that you could earn enough so that your daughters could go to school instead of working. You decided to knock on the door of one of the missions. They do not have literacy classes but they do teach crafts. They give you temporary shelter while you look for work. Your daughters begin to learn a craft. You wonder what the future will hold. The End. reflection f30

65 Hungry Decisions Female Story f31
The servant work is from dawn until late at night. You earn very little but you do have shelter and daily food. The problem is that your daughters cannot stay with you. Your oldest daughter takes a live-in servant job also. Your youngest daughters are resorting to begging in the streets and sleeping on mission floors or on the streets, wherever they can find a place. You sneak food to them even though your employer would dismiss you if she knew. What is happening to your daughters is a constant source of worry to you. The End. reflection f31

66 Hungry Decisions Reflection reflection
How did you feel as you took the part of this man or woman? How would you feel if you were in their position? What additional choices would you hope may be available to people in such situations? What new routes to better nutrition and health might be opened up? How do you compare the "hungry decisions" faced in this story with those faced by people in your own community? Based on this story, what would you say are the major causes of poverty and hunger? What are the consequences? What can we do to open up more choices and more opportunities for hungry people? What will you do? Begin a new story reflection

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