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This story was sent to us by Cordellia Ivy, a SOON reader in Ghana. It is a parable (story with a meaning) that reminds us that we must not be selfish, only thinking about ourselves.

Three poor friends feel hungry

 There were three friends called Kofi, Ebo and Tawia. They were old and poor, with no homes of their own. They walked about from village to village, asking for food and sleeping wherever they could find shelter. One evening they came to an empty hut on the edge of a village and agreed to stay there for the night. Soon they began to feel hungry. "I think it's time we tried to find some food," said Kofi, "I'm hungry. I will try to get some meat and Tawia, you ask for some corn. Then we can light a fire and make a stew."

The others agreed and off they all went to ask the villagers for the things they needed. Kofi got some meat, Ebo was given some vegetables and Tawia some corn.They put the pot of water on the fire to cook in the dark hut. Each got his food ready for the stew. Then Kofi thought, "Why should I put my meat into this pot. I will keep it and eat it myself tomorrow. A stew of corn and vegetables will be good for us."

So, instead of putting his meat in the pot, he dropped a few stones in. The 'plop' noise that they made sounded as if he had put the meat into the water. "Well done, Kofi," said Tawia. "Now, it's your turn, Ebo, with your vegetables."

But suddenly Ebo thought, "Why should I put my vegetables into this stew. They would not be missed. Meat and corn make a good meal. I'll keep them and eat them all myself tomorrow."

So, instead of dropping in his vegetables, Ebo picked up a few stones and dropped them into the pot. The 'plop' they made as they went in sounded just as though he had put in the vegetables. "All right," said Kofi and Ebo, "Now it's your turn Tawia."

But, just as Tawia was going to drop his corn into the pot, he thought, "Vegetables and meat are all you need for a stew. Why should I put my corn in? I'll have it all to myself tomorrow."

So he picked up a few stones from the floor of the hut and put them into the pot, 'plop', just as though he had dropped in the corn.

They sat waiting for the stew to cook

The men sat and waited for the stew to cook. Kofi thought he could smell the vegetables and corn cooking. Ebo wondered how long it would be before he smelt the meat and vegetables. But very little smell came from the pot, so they decided to cook the stew for a few more minutes. At last they were too hungry to wait any longer. Each one took some stew into his mouth – a good helping of plain hot water.

At once Kofi knew what an unkind trick his friends had played on him. Ebo realised how selfish his friends had been. How could they do this to him? Tawia felt ashamed of his friends. What a bad trick to play on him. As each man was going to tell the other two friends what he thought, he realised that he himself had been unkind and selfish. None of them said anything. They sat there in the dark eating plain hot water and pretending they were enjoying a tasty stew. They learned a lesson that night which they never forgot.