It’s an image that he’ll never forget. In the Spring of 2017, Dr. Tom Kelly, a professor and theologian at Creighton University, was on an immersion trip in the Batey - a Haitian immigrant community in the Dominican Republic when he saw an emaciated little boy, appearing to be no more than ten months of age, sitting on an old rice bag, alone and hungry. The irony of a malnourished boy resting on an empty rice bag didn’t escape Dr. Kelly as he was no stranger to the suffering of the poor particularly in Latin America. But it is what he discovered about this child that shook him. The boy, who could neither crawl nor walk, was in fact over two years old! His name was Pascal.
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“From the minute I saw Pascal, I knew I would hold him in myheart forever”, recalls Dr. Tanya Bendict, founder, and president. I remember hearing the laughter of children. The young boys were content shooting sticks back and forth with one rubber band that they shared. [One boy named Pascal, who was gravely malnourished] wanted to be held. My greatest concern, though, went far beyond the children’s need for toys [and cuddles].
“Food, is something we [most Americans] take for granted.” Many of the children were malnourished and they needed food every day. [Most people] don't like it if we miss a meal by an hour or so. I can't imagine what it would be like to go without. At the end of my visit, it was clear the most urgent need was to start a children's pantry to provide food on a regular basis and this was a priority. I knew nothing about how to start a nonprofit and I didn't even know where to begin. What I did know, though, was that I had to do something.
In 2017, I founded Pascal's Pantry, along with the help of Dr. Tom Kelly,colleagues, and friends who had visited that small community with me.
-Excerpt from Tanya Benedict, PhD, CPH. “He had me at Hello”. Web blog post. News and Updates. Updated April 14, 2018.