My neighbour is starving her children


November 18, 2016

Dear Pastor,

The lady living next door to me has two sons. None has reached the age of 10. They both have different dads and these children really love me.

The second child's father lives there too. Sometimes, even before I wake up in the morning, the children would come knocking on my door to wake me up.

These children are always saying that they are hungry and asking if I have anything to eat. If I have I will share with them, but even when I say I don't have it, they would say I am lying. I don't like that. I have a guava tree in my yard and they pick even the green guavas and eat them with salt.

Some weekends when they're home, I make breakfast for the three of us. After eating, they go home and I would hear them being beaten. I don't know if it's because I gave them food, but even my boyfriend says I must not be mean to them with food as long as I have it to give to them.

Pastor, this lady and I live the way neighbours should live, but I wonder if they secretly have something against me or they hear the children begging for food and beat them for doing so.

Now the children have started to hide and ask me for food. When I give them, they would hide to eat it. If I tell them to go and tell their parents that they are hungry, they would say that their parents only have bread or crackers.


Their mother cooks once per day, and that is way down in the evening. Because I heard them being beaten all the time, I decided to stop giving them food.

One morning, the older child saw me drinking tea and asked for some. When I refused to give him, Pastor, you should have seen the look on his face and then he held down his head. I feel so awful now. I couldn't finish drinking the tea.

Please tell me what to do?


Dear Confused,

You said that these neighbours are good neighbours, but their children are always begging you for food. They are always hungry.

What I find very strange is that you have not considered approaching these neighbours and asking them if they have any objection if you were to give them food.

Tell them that you have observed that when the children have taken food from you, you hear them crying as if they were getting beaten.

Tell the parents that you know that they are poor and you are quite willing to assist them from time to time by giving the children food. And by giving them food, you are not condemning them as their parents.

Children who are well fed at home do not go to neighbours to beg them. So these are indeed needy children. You may consider from time to time buying certain produce from the market and offering them to your neighbours.

If you go to rural Jamaica or your relatives bring certain produce from their farm, such as yam and banana, you should share it with your neighbour.

I would encourage you to give to the children whatever they may ask of you, if you are in the position to do so. But please speak to their parents.

In any case, it is wrong for their parents to be abusing the children by beating them.


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