Friday, July 4, 2008

You have donated: 10,000 grains of rice

I saw something online that really freaked me out. It was chilling.

On the right, theres a ticker updating the number of hunger deaths in the past hour, and it was increasing by 1 every 2 seconds. Pictures included. Trishaka Trivedi. Iniaka Diop. Chaiyo Seow. Shasmecka Bonita. All children. They look like any child you would meet on the street, not so different from you and I. Who am I kidding? 

We're poles apart. We're born into privilege. They're born into a struggle for survival. I want to go to the latest movie. They would do anything for a bowl of rice. At 17, I hang out with my friends and laze around doing nothing. At 17, the boy is responsible for his mother and seven younger sisters, for their daily subsistence and survival.

I'm pretty sure that for most you of (me for sure), guilt sets in, and you wish you didn't blow so much on something so stupid, because you could have...what? Exactly. You not spending any money on yourself is not going to help a family 3000 miles away survive. They're not going to eat your abstinence. Ok, you could donate to charities (there are SO many of them, chief among which is the UNFP - UN Food Program, but how are you going to donate enough money to make a difference when your only source of income is pocket money?)

You can't exactly convince your dad to donate much money either because he's too busy working to keep your family in comfort, and who can blame him? There is something that a lot of us have now, however. Time. Time to learn and time to give.


“Web game provides rice for hungry . . . FreeRice went online in early October and has now raised 1 billion grains of rice [by November 9].”

- BBC News

“Addictive, yes. But . . . each correct answer results in the donation of rice to help feed the hungry around the globe. Perhaps that qualifies the game as a good addiction . . . one with redeeming qualities, something that’s, oh, didactic and edifying.”

- Kansas City Star is a vocabulary building game that donates 20 grains of rice to the UN WorldFP for every word meaning that you get right. Its gets harder as your Vocab Level goes up. So you learn new words, which is a MAJOR plus point - vocabulary being a primary measure of intelligence, and you donate rice to the UN WFP.

The rice is sponsored by the ads on the game page, the logic being the more you stay on, the more exposure the company gets. Obviously they don't courier 560 grains of rice to Uganda! Instead, they wait until the rice grains accumulate to the level that they can send them off in sacks with freerice in green emblazoned on it. 

Want proof that its real?

Go to the World Food Program Website,, and click on How to Help in the blue tab on the left. In the orange tab that springs up, click on Give More Rice. There's a link for a video. Its called: 'Video: FreeRice for Bangladesh' in red bold font on the left of the picture. Watch it. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears while watching it. 

And for an added feel good factor, it lets you keep score of how much you've donated in the past. I got addicted. I learnt that full family needed 7200 grains of rice for one meal. I reached 10,000 recently, not enough for more than one family. Why bother? 


Its a game. You have fun and learn something.


Where would the world be if we all asked that? 

The hunger deaths have reached a thousand from 400 by the time I wrote this post. Start playing. 

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