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I recently had the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua on a Vision Trip with an amazing group of Stop Hunger Now volunteers, partners and staff. This was my first time seeing our mission in action and learning the true impact of the meals we provide to the feeding programs through ORPHANetwork, our in-country partner.

More importantly, I was able meet children who receive our meals and put a name and face on each meal we served. We heard from their parents and community leaders who spoke about the importance of education for the children and how they are able to better leverage their meager resources when food is served at the schools. These are beautiful, welcoming people who treated this group of “gringos” like family every place we visited.

On the last day of the trip, I dropped my smartphone in some water. Even though the exposure was minimal, the damage was done. All I could think about was what a hassle and inconvenience that the phone was not operating properly. This was a classic diversionary tactic as I tried to squash the guilt I was already feeling about heading back to my comfortable life back in the U.S.

Once I returned to the states, I took my phone to the store to determine if it was salvageable. The very helpful big box store employee offered this advice: “Try putting it in some rice to dry it out. But it would have been better if you could have done it immediately after you got the phone wet.”

I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. All I could think to say, quietly, was, “Well, I could have done that, but 12 kids wouldn’t have been able to eat.”

I wasn’t angry. I was ashamed by my “first-world” problem. All the feelings I had been avoiding from this trip came bubbling up about the people we met, the poverty we saw, the hope we witnessed.

After our interaction, I returned to work with a renewed sense of purpose. I understand the value of rice more fully than ever before. Grain by grain, Stop Hunger Now is using rice to empower individuals to lift entire communities out of poverty, free from the burden of hunger and want. Rice is not merely a means by which to save accessories, but rather it is a lifeline connecting people with nutrition, health, education and careers for the purpose of saving lives.

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