How it started
In June 2011, Tim Bradley (Founder and CEO of Feed Starving People) set off on a journey to Southeast Asia. He left the US with no timeline and no itinerary, but a deep desire to witness and experience a different world, leaving the anchors of comfort behind. However, he discovered that although his surroundings changed, and cultures differed, the people did not. The same needs, fears, and desires reside in all of us, no matter who we are or where we are in this world. Making his way through Southeast Asia, Tim looked into the beautiful, but disadvantaged eyes of so many people and his purpose became clear. This trip was meant to be an expression of gratitude for the life Tim have been afforded, and it was now time for him to give back. In July 2012, Tim’s journey was coming to an end in one of the poorest countries in the world, Cambodia. This was Tim’s opportunity to discover the heart of his journey.
It began as a self-run mission that Tim called “Feed Hungry Cambodians“. The original idea was to purchase groceries with his own money and bring them to the poorest villages outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It was meant to be a small expression of service to those less fortunate, but after by voicing his mission via Facebook, it escalated to approximately $1500 in donations. For five consecutive days, Tim spent days and nights planning the logistics of how to best spend and distribute, what is a small fortune in Cambodia. In the end, Tim was able to fed over a thousand people. Not only could Tim provide groceries for entire poor villages but he had the special privilege of taking families and whole villages to local restaurants and feeding everyone. Feed starving people was born!
The first day started off with acquiring a tuk tuk (taxi) driver to drive Tim to some of the very poor villages around Siem Reap. Although there are countless villages, filled with truly hungry people, tourist traps still exist, and it was surprisingly difficult to identify villages with sincere hardships. Tim wanted to get this food to people with a genuine need, but who lacked resources. When Tim discovered the first really poor village, he chose a family that appeared to need the most help. We explained that I wanted to take them out to eat, they agreed without hesitation. Their beautiful children quickly climbed into the tuk tuk like it was Santa’s sleigh, bursting with excitement! The two mothers offered their heartfelt praise by clasping their hands above their forehead; a symbol of respect used when bowing to officials or the Buddha. While at the restaurant, Tim ordered more food to deliver to another struggling family in a nearby village. When Tim stuck his head into the shack where he was leaving the groceries, he saw what looked like a dying grandmother stroking a sick, sleeping child’s head. It was extremely heartbreaking to know that he couldn’t do more. Although the grandmother spoke no English, she held my hand, looked into my eyes, and without one word exchanged, expressed her gratitude for helping them get through another day. The village visits of Day 1 was the window into how Tim would spend the money I had. Every day Tim’s goals grew as the vast number of starving people became more apparent.
The following for days were spent in an orphanage, plus three more local villages. Driving up to these neglected areas and witnessing such things as creeks filled with toilet water running, where children play and families work was heart wrenching. It was not difficult to recognize these people needed help. Parallel to the first day, everyone shared their overwhelming gratitude as Tim delivered large quantities of groceries and various supplies to each village. Although the village visits were incredibly moving, the time spent in the orphanage was Tim’s highlight of the five days spent on this project. Tim believes there is nothing that compares to the smile that lights up a child’s face with such things as a second shirt, laundry detergent, soap, paper, pens, and books. He spent a lot of my time in this orphanage, providing not only food and supplies, but teaching English classes, playing soccer with the kids and even buying them their first slice of pizza and movie. Watching their excitement each day was a true gift, and a reminder of life’s simple joys.