a. A strong desire or need for food.
b. The discomfort, weakness, or pain caused by a prolonged lack of food.
2. A strong desire or craving: a hunger for affection.
v. hun·gered, hun·ger·ing, hun·gers
She is malnourished. Because her body lacks so many nutrients, her feet are swollen with oedema, she has a pot belly, her limbs are skin and bones, and her skin has started to slough off. When we first saw her in the village on Sunday, we thought she had fallen into the fire. Her mother loves and cares for her, and so she sought help to make her baby well. Like many people here, she went to the traditional healer (witchdoctor) for guidance, who advised her to withhold food and drink until her child got better. After a few days of her daughter getting sicker and sicker, this mother and another relative walked 5 hours to our clinic to seek help – a journey that took both courage and endurance. Now, 5 days later, the child has begun to heal. The child’s unsatiated hunger nearly cost her her life.
The dogs here are desperate. One has continued to break into our kitchen, wreaking havoc, breaking into metal trunks and causing destruction. They break holes in through the sticks on the side of the tukl, and when those have been repaired they jump through the window or squeeze and scrape their bodies through the chicken wire and back in through the hole. This week one was caught inside and a man here beat it severely. Several of us woke at 1:30 in the morning to the desperate yelps and growls of an animal defending its life. Though it was not beaten to death, it is impossible that it survived unscathed. But the next night, the dog squeezed itself back into that kitchen to scavenge for more food. Its hunger compells it to return.
Her uterus contracts again, just as it has been since her water broke 3 days ago. Though she has laboured at home stoically since, her first child has yet to be born. When the fever came, her relatives brought her to the clinic. She is exhausted, but still trying to push out this child that will make her a woman in the eyes of her culture. Never has anything had the potential to bring meaning to her life like the delivery of the baby that is inside her. But though her uterus contracts, her cervix does not open; she remains only partially dilated hour after hour, and the situation becomes severe. She will certainly need a caesarean section for the child to survive, and maybe for herself as well. Though the doctor at our clinic has performed over 500 of these operations, the risk for infection is too great with the facilities that are here. Her relatives find a vehicle to take her 6 hours to the closest hospital. Against odds, her child’s heart continues to beat strong. The baby hungers for life.
Hunger. Every day each of us has on earth, hunger will be with us in some form or another whether it is hunger of the body or hunger of the soul. It can seduce us to pain; it can inspire us to fulfillment. Left unsatiated, we will die. Satisfying it in dangerous ways also provoke morbidity and mortality. The good news is that we are created to have the deepest hunger of our beings filled by the Bread of Life who came down from heaven. He is the One whose eye is on even the desperate dogs, and so much more those denied food, those led astray, and those battling for life. Taste and see :)