A cup of coffee. A pleasant evening. I’m bored to death on my bed and then I pick up the newspaper or a word games book. A pencil in my hand, I race through the word game. I just generally find conquering vocabulary and terminology games irresistible. Well, most of us do. It is always either a daily crossword, word wheels, unscrambling the words and no one gets to know how fast time passes by. Whoever has the time to see the watch anyway! Before you know, you have spent hours in the same room crossing every level or winning every little challenge that comes your way. And then, there are some of us who sit glued to the computer surfing through a zillion sites, some doing serious business and the rest wall-posting or scrapping even an unknown person (No offence meant for the people who actually do dead serious work online. I appreciate the sincerity!). And yet, it is natural to be jobless and bored at the same time. I have a solution for everyone – those who just have simply nothing to do at times and also for those who may never be bored because meeting deadlines is the crux of the life they live. It kills your boredom and even gives you a break from a hard day and at the same time, makes you feel good about your existence in some part of the huge wide world.
Well I am going to introduce www.freerice.com to you. FreeRice began on October 7, 2007. FreeRice, as they claim to be, is a sister site of Poverty.com. What it is all about is also what it aims to do, which is to provide English vocabulary to everyone for free and to help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. It seems like big talk and small work at first but it is not. As you log onto the site, the homepage opens to the first word of the word game you will begin. A word is given to you with initial difficulty level as zero so that FreeRice is able to adjust to your level of vocabulary. The word has four options from which the best which defines the word has to be chosen. For each word you get right, FreeRice donates 20 grains of rice through the UN World Food Program. As you answer a word correctly, the difficulty level also rises. And if you are thinking why just 20 grains are donated, well, that is why you have to keep on playing.
As you answer 5 words correctly, donated grains become 100. Every donation of 100 grains becomes a landmark at the right hand side of the page, displaying your statistics also in a diagrammatic form, in a bowl of rice. It also says below the bowl, “You have now donated 100 grains of rice. Please play as long as you like”. If you answer a word correctly, you get a harder word making it more challenging. But, if you answer it incorrectly then you get an easier word which lets you master or perfect that level and then move on, something also quite challenging in itself. There is no time limit. You answer as and when you feel like. So again, sparing a few seconds on each word is not asking you much. There are 55 levels in all that you need to accomplish and their records say that finishing more than 48 is a rare occurrence! All that you have got to do is prove them wrong and trust me, they will be more thrilled than you if that proves to be true.
Additional features included are audio options next to the word asked, denoted by a speaker symbol which allows you to hear the pronunciation of the word. The options tab on the top right hand corner of the page allows you to set the options provided that can be manipulated according to your needs. So, you probably must be thinking that FreeRice must be super rich right? Wrong. FreeRice runs the site at no profit. Here is how it works. When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people. The rice you donate makes a huge difference to the person who receives it. According to the United Nations, about 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes, most of them being children. To a mother or father watching a loved child die in their arms from hunger, the rice you donate is more precious than anything in the world. So beleive me, every grain counts! On March 27, 2008 itself approximately 136,657,720 grains were donated and in the month of March, more than 24,226,462,090 grains will be donated.
Imagine just a word feeds a hungry soul. As Los Angeles Times aptly puts it, “FreeRice.com is one of the most ingenious websites of 2007. In the best spirit of the Internet, it offers education, entertainment and a way to change the world ― all for free.” All of you sitting in any part of the world just think for a moment, your gain of vocabulary which is free also feeds some one hungry in some other corner of the world free of cost; it is all just a click away. For your information, I just answered as easy a word as ‘gutsy’ and the best part is all it cost me was 20 grains, absolutely free.
[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/franciscodaum/2124385866/]