“When I was in the primary school in Croatia, there was this optional flat fee you could pay and the kids would be served lunch (not like shop style lunch in US). Obviously, if you were not happy with the food they provided or for whatever other reason you could choose to not pay it and give your kids sandwiches or whatever. But nearly everyone paid it and so did my parents.
One month, in the third year I had forgotten to tell my parents when the payment is due. I told them something like three days before it was due because of a terrible financial condition we were in my dad forgot to account for the lunch fee. Times were difficult after the Yugoslav Wars and my parents were struggling but they always took great care for me not to feel any of it. But this time, my dad couldn’t find money from anywhere. He even asked to borrow money. Keep in mind that this was a relatively low fee, something like $15 but he had no luck. I simply went back to the teacher and told her that I was not gonna go to lunch this month. No big deal, I get 10 more minutes to play soccer or whatever. Didn’t bother me.
But it affected my dad immensely. This was the first time that he had to concede that he couldn’t provide food for his children. First time when he needed to pay to feed his child and he simply couldn’t. Same day he started researching his options. He got a second job, spent days on the computer and phone, every minute of free time he had. About three months later he and my mum called me and my brothers in for a family meeting and asked about how we would feel if we were to move to Australia or Canada. I didn’t really care, seemed cool at the time. We said yes. So they initiated the immigration process, pulled some strings and within a year we were packing our whole life into five suitcases and moving to Australia. We didn’t have any family in Australia, knew about three people. It was a completely fresh start.
Years later, my father admitted that the inability to pay my lunch fee was the straw that broke the camels back and whenever they ask him why he moved to Australia he says that he ‘couldn’t feed his children in Croatia’ even though I never really went hungry. Who knew that missing a little lunch would change our lives for the better.”