Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.


My teenagers and I reached into a bowl to draw our seat assignments for the Hunger Banquet.

My ticket sent me to the high-income group which represented the 15 percent of the world's population with a per capita income of $12,000 or more. We could afford a nutritious daily diet, had access to medical care, and lived in a comfortable home with at least one car and two televisions.

The tickets my two sons chose sent them to the middle-income group. They were part of the 35 percent of the world's population that earn between $987 and $11,999 a year.

"It's unlikely you own land," the organizer said. "You probably work as a day laborer and a serious illness would throw you into poverty. You make just enough money to send your children to school for a few years -- if they're boys. Or, you might have left your family to work in the city. You send money home and hope it helps make a better life for your family."

My daughter sat with the low-income group, which represented the majority of the world's population who earn an average of about $2.70 a day.

"For you, every day is a struggle," she was told. "Finding food, water, and shelter may consume the entire day. School and health care are out of the question. Early death is normal; many mothers lose one or two of their children before they turn five."

I was served lasagna, salad, French bread, lemonade, and chocolate cake. My sons picked up plates of rice and beans from a nearby table. My daughter scooped rice and water from bowls set in the middle of the floor.

During the discussion, organizers asked those at my table how we felt about our meal and especially about the second basket of bread we were served midway through.

"Guilty," was the general consensus. "We had too much, but we didn't know what to do. We wanted to share it, but there wasn't enough for everyone."

So the organizer turned to those in the middle- and low-income groups: "What should they have done? Who should they have given the extra too? And what might have happened?"

"We'd probably have fought over it," said one.

"Maybe we would have given it to the oldest," another countered. "Or the youngest. Or the sickest."

And then, from one of the students in the low-income group: "But couldn't they teach us how to make bread or how to grow wheat? Wouldn't that help everyone?"

This was exactly the point the organizer had hoped the teenagers would grasp, so she pushed a little more. She shared statistics about hunger in developing nations and in the United States and then connected hunger to low-birth-weight babies, malnutrition, disease, and death.

My kids' stomachs growled all the way home, but they had a full plate of issues to think about.

Journal Entry: Write about a learning experience that made an impact. How did the presenter make the lesson "real" to you/your child?

Visit Oxfam America Hunger Banquet to learn how to organize a Hunger Banquet in your community.

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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