But the firsthand experience, gratifying as it was, came with its ups and downs. In both countries, the scope of poverty was overwhelming. While Jason was completely immersed in it, Cuong witnessed vast discrepancies between the city where the team stayed and the rural areas where they observed the distributions. The distance was short—only a 15-30-minute drive—but the differences were shocking.
“The kids in these areas could only eat rice every day,” Cuong shared. “They could grow food and fish, but they sold what they caught.” As a result, many children in those regions are at risk of malnutrition. He added, “One of those kids could grow up to cure cancer, but they may not have that opportunity because they don’t have nutrition. Who knows what they could do one day, if they had that chance?”
Jason shared, “When I was in some of these huts [in Malawi], they didn’t have a single possession. But what they had on the walls were dusty pictures from six, seven years ago—pictures that Vitamin Angels had taken on a previous trip, just hanging there, curled up and old, and it was very impactful about what we were doing. And they just treasure us coming back.”
He added, “A child wrote me a heart-wrenching letter that he spent all day making—and he doesn’t write English first—and this was written on a scrappy piece of paper; in the letter, it said, “Please don’t forget about us.”