Ruth Fremson/The New York Times 





Mama, I'm hungry

My tummy hurts, also at night,

My hair and skin are now so dry.

I am only 8 years old.


My baby brother cries.

He is hungry, too.

You say your milk has stopped.

You need food and safe water.


Daddy died some months ago.

Villagers say he killed himself.

There were so many debts.

He tried to buy food for us.


You say I can't go to school.

I want to be a teacher.

You send me work with bricks.

I am so tired, so very hungry.


The men look at me strangely.

They offer me food, candy.

They are rude. I am afraid.

But I am so hungry, Mama.


You married off my big sister

Now one less mouth to feed here.

But I know she's not happy.

Her eyes are sad and full of fear.


Mama, I'm cold at night alot.

I want food to keep me warm.

To cover me, you give me paper.

The hunger pangs won't let me sleep.


Will we lose our house as well?

Without home and land, can we survive?

I am so very hungry, Mama.

Can we really stay alive?


Will I grow up? I am not so sure.

I get very sick. I cannot play.

You talk about the big city.

But where there would we stay?


I have hopes and I have dreams.

They seem so far away.

Like our food, dreams disappear.

I can only hope and pray.


Mama, I'm Hungry!


WUNRN - 2011