Even the most frivolous of TV shows can turn out to be a great source of inspiration

By Nina Steele 

Come Dine with MeOnce in a while, I watch Channel 4’s ‘Come Dine with Me’. For those of you not familiar with the show, it is a culinary contest that pits 4 or 5 strangers against one another. Each contestant has to have the others over to their house and cook a 3 course meal. At end of the night, the host is scored by the others and the person with the highest score wins £1000. Needless to say that there is usually a lot of skulduggery going on. Since everyone is keen to win, good cooks are often marked down, out of fear and jealousy. It makes for good TV, but inevitably, it also highlights how devious some people can be.

I usually bother to watch the show if some of the contestants are interesting, and this particular episode certainly didn’t disappoint. The episode in question was shown on Monday, January 10th. One contestant particularly stood out. Her name is Suzanne Hook, and as the show went on, she told the others a bit about herself. As it turned out, she had quite a story to tell.

She is of mixed Vietnamese and black American heritage. Her father was a G.I. who was sent to fight in the Vietnam War. She was abandoned at birth and raised in an orphanage. Resentments about the war and the American intervention meant that mixed raced kids like her were discriminated against in the orphanage. The discrimination translated in those children being fed less than the others. As a result, she suffered from malnutrition. Thankfully, she was later adopted by an English couple and so England became her home. That was in 1972.

In 2007, she went back to Vietnam and spent her time there teaching English to orphans. She was so touched by the experience that in 2010, she made the decision to move there permanently and set up her own orphanage. She sold all her possessions to fund her charity, including her house. Her story was reported by various news outlets at the time, including ITV news and the Daily Mail.

Suzanne’s story shows how we can all make a difference in the lives of the children that are already among us. Figures from UNICEF put the number of street children at around 100 million globally. With so many children without a home around the world, it makes no sense at all that some in society still believe that everyone ought to procreate.

Instead of the focus being on everyone having children, the right thing to do should surely be to educate people, so everyone understands that having children you cannot afford is irresponsible. In addition, those in authority must do everything in their power to ensure that children that are already here because of no faults of their own, are looked after and not left to fend for themselves.

Which brings me back to the work that Suzanne is doing. I am glad that I watched the show on that day. It goes to show that as they say, everything we come into contact with has the potential to teach us something.

To see the work that Suzanne’s charity does, visit her website:

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