As I re read the original posting, my thoughts turned to past generations of my family. As I contemplated the question. Did they go to bed hungry? They probably did. In the 19th Century it was common for only the man to earn a wage, and even then the wage would have been minimal. Families would have been much larger than we see today, with a much higher child mortality rate and lower life expectancy than we are used to.
What I find exceptionally sad is that parts of the world are still facing the same issues 200 years later. Going to bed hungry and low life expectancy. How can that be right or even acceptable? I guess, if you don’t know any different do you feel aggrieved by the situation?
We spent some time in Kenya in 1994. The staff at the hotel were very friendly and we often chatted to them about their homes, families and alike. We arranged to go on a tour organised by the operator. A member of staff was sick and we were asked if we minded being accompanied by a member of staff from the hotel instead. There was 8 of us on the trip and none of us minded so as we set off we were informed that we would need to make a small detour so to inform the family of the member of staff who was breaking his routine. Some of those on the trip felt that this was a ploy to show us the poverty the locals lived in. We felt that it was perfectly acceptable to inform his family, especially when most of the locals living in rural settings would not have access to a phone. We stopped in the village he left to inform his family and was back within a few moments. While he was away we observed that the children had gathered around the bus, curious. Many had never seen someone who was white! We smiled at that. We watched the women ground maize in a huge tall pot and asked the chap from the village how often they did this task. It looked hard work and we were told they did this every day.
The tour passed without incident and was enjoyable. We got to know Francis over the course of our holiday and found that he was very knowledgeable and interested in life in the UK and how it compared with Kenya. From that day we forged a friendship and we still send him a card at Christmas and a few nice, practical items from England. There was nothing sinister in the behaviour that day. We have developed a friendship and there was no degree of wanting. He did share with us proudly that his salary was £7 a month, (in 1994) and that he was able to provide for his family. He loved working at the hotel and that he had a small family. He still works at the same hotel and his children are obviously older now, but they send us pictures in with cards and we in return send them a few bits from England. He is proud of his achievements and we are better for having met him. What was very clear was that the people who lived in this village knew of poverty, yet nothing on the scale that we saw in the 1980s and since, and they had relatively little compared to us in the Western world, but what they did have they would share and I think that there is something rather refreshing in such a simplistic life.