Reportedly, a school lunch in India has killed at least 22 children and sickened many more. Authorities believe the horror happened after the food from the free lunch program was somehow tainted with organophosphate, a substance used as an insecticide on rice and wheat crops. It's entirely possible it happened through negligence -- a failure to properly wash some component of the meal, which included rice. It could have also been intentional.
It's an absolutely heartbreaking scenario. These children were already at a disadvantage. They needed to take part in the free mid-day meal program because they were somehow malnourished or otherwise in need of better food. And then something like this happens.
The idea that this could be intentional is nearly too much to bear. Who could do such a thing to these children who range in age from 8 to 12. They are babies.
So far an investigation has been launched and the parents who have lost children have been offered 200,000 rupees ($3,370) in compensation. Of course, there is no amount of money in the world that will bring those children back, and parents are furious and besides themselves with grief. Who can blame them?
The headmaster at the school has been accused of criminal negligence, and the reality is, whether it was deliberate or intentional, something or someone went horribly wrong when serving food to an incredibly vulnerable population.
As a parent, you can't help but imagine this being you. This could be my kids. It could be your kids.
Every time I think about those parents and the trust they put in the school and in the lunch program, I start to cry again. Now 22 children will never play another game of hide and seek and will never run around the school yard again all because someone didn't follow the proper procedure in preparing their food. Sure, it's a lesson in hygiene I won't forget. But it comes at an unimaginable price.
The death toll in this tragedy is beyond imagining. Those poor, sweet children.
Do you think someone could have done this on purpose?
Image via Michael Ivanov/Flickr