Global Hunger Fast Day 5: They’re Not Lazy. They’re Not Un-athletic. They’re Just Poor.

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Life in the Philippines
Tags: , , , , , , ,

These are my running shoes. They’re last year’s model, bought on closeout from for $60. Plus they had free shipping! Pretty thrifty of me, right? What a great sport running is: all you need is a pair of shoes! Everyone should get into it.

Global Hunger Fast Me reads that paragraph, and he wants to hit Old American Me over the head, steal Old American Me’s shoes, and then sell them so he can feed himself and his wife. (Maybe even eat meat a couple times!)  Because those $60 shoes–that’s a month’s earnings right there! There’s no way Global Hunger Fast Me, wearing his one pair of $2.50 flip-flops, could ever afford Nikes. There’s a reason Global Hunger Fast Me doesn’t see any joggers in the squatter community around the corner: as uncomfortable as it is for Old American Me to hear, running is a sport for the comparatively rich. If Global Hunger Fast Me wants some exercise, he’ll do what the millions of other urban poor around the world do, activities you can do in flip-flops or barefoot: walking, basketball, or soccer. (Or, since activity just makes you hungrier, probably not.)

Over the past nine months living in metro Manila and working at Samaritana, we’d already come to appreciate another of the reasons poor people don’t exercise: they don’t have access to the knowledge, the facilities, that we do as rich people. (For example, some of the women’s kids go to Batasan Hills High School. How many students do they have there? 40,000. (in morning and evening shifts). One of our friends teaches the morning shift, and has five classes of 65 kids each. Does it sound like there’s space for a gym? If they’re in school, the $2/day kids may well be in one like this, or–if they’re like a lot of the women we work with, had to drop out of one like it.

Thanks to this brutally peso-pinching week, it’s unforgettably clear to us why most of the Samaritana women (on top of lack of knowledge or facilities) had never exercised. There’s just no way for them to afford the gear–which puts in even richer perspective the donation that enabled us to start the Super Babae fitness program at Samaritana. Thanks to our Patron Saint of Exercise, Krista Ford at Nike, we were able to help these women do something they never otherwise would’ve been able to: jog around the block.

So since the true purpose of this week for us isn’t only self-denial, but gut-level lifestyle understanding, we haven’t run at all this week. We haven’t even exercised beyond walking to buy food–which brings me the third uncomfortable conclusion about why really poor people don’t exercise as much: it just makes you hungrier (and rice doesn’t grow on trees). Earlier this week I noted that for Global Hunger Fast Me, every decision comes down to money, but perhaps what would be more accurate is to say that every decision comes down to hunger. So exercise? Sorry. I’ll be sitting on the curb.


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* * * * *
Daily Tab:

2 whole-wheat buns–16
1 mango–16
3 eggs–15

Lunch + Dinner
bag of mung beans–33
2 hamburgers–22
2 tofu blocks–8
1/2 kilo rice–15
1 egg–6

shampoo sachet–6

Daily Total: 179

  1. jen says:

    Chill, a week has to be one of the longest stretches you’ve gone without running. How are you guys feeling emotionally and mentally in the absence of exercise or, more specifically, the absence of running?

  2. Jonathan says:

    Loving these posts! So glad to feel some solidarity. I couldn’t exercise right now if it was do or die!

    • freeisaverb says:

      Thanks so much for your comment, Jonathan. We’re very curious to hear how the Global Hunger Fast was for you guys back in the States. We thought a lot about you last week, and it was cool to know that our church was experiencing the week along with us. Thanks for encouraging us to do the fast in the first place! We love and miss our Christ Church family, and are excited to share life with you all in a few months.

  3. Jennifer Rolander says:

    This must be really hard for the two of you not to be able to run-especially since you are such avid runners. I totally know how you are feeling right now since I had to give up running 4 years ago. Raymond and I completely respect what you are doing with only $2 a day and I am sure it has been completely eye opening. You two continue to amaze us! Lots of love, Jennifer and Raymond.

    • freeisaverb says:

      Thanks so much for your comments, Jennifer! The odd thing was that we didn’t miss running nearly as much as we thought we would. I think part of that is because running here is just not very much fun (lots of pollution and pavement, and no really beautiful place to run). But it was also because we were just that tired and hungry almost all of the time. I felt like I was hoarding calories. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to part with any more calories than I had to. We love you guys, and so appreciate your support.

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