Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

8 posts from December 2005

Pictures from Mozambique's World AIDS Day

I've added a new photo album of pictures my friend Rebecca took during some of Mozambique's World AIDS Day celebrations.  Enjoy!

Why I Got Arrested

Some of you may have heard about the vigils Sojourners sponsored last week.  They were vigils to advocate for a moral budget and highlight the potential cuts to anti-poverty programs Congress was considering while passing tax cuts to the wealthiest in our society.  The vigil here in Washington, D.C., occured outside the Cannon House Office Building and over 100 religious leaders and activists blocked the enterence to the buidling and were arrested. 

My friend, Christa Mazzone, was one of the many arrested. Christa  Some of you may remember Christa because she helped organize the Emerging Leaders track at the One Table, Many Voices conferenceShe wrote a wonderful reflection for Sojomail that I encourage you to read on why she got arrested.  Here's an excerpt:

More than anything, I'm risking arrest this Advent season because I have hope. And hope is what Advent is all about. Every year during this time we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the child who will have the government on his shoulders and will be called the Prince of Peace. His rule will establish justice and righteousness (Isaiah 9). Like Mary, I strive to be one who "believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished." I believe the peace and justice celebrated as we anticipate Christ each Advent really are possible. I believe Jesus' birth really does mean good news for the poor and that liberation for each of us is possible. I have hope that the hearts of members of Congress can be softened for Americans struggling with poverty.

My Christmas Tree Adventures

My partner and I decided we would get a Christmas tree this year.  Christmas trees have always been one of my favorite things about this holiday season.  I love the fresh smell of pine that permeates the rooms in our homes.  My favorite type of tree is a white pine and the long, soft needles are so inviting to touch!  We have tall ceilings in our apartment, so we decided to go all out and get a big tree; it's about 7 feet tall and bushy all around.  (Side note: We are car-less so buying a tree is problematic, so in case all of you didn't know, you can buy wonderful trees off the internet and they are delivered to you in a box by FedEx - it's brilliant!)  After we ordered our tree, we walked to the hardware store to buy a Christmas tree stand.  Have you ever gone Christmas tree stand shopping - they can be VERY expensive.  Stands ranged from $10 to $80.  Eighty dollars, can you believe that?  We opted to go cheap - we got the $10 one. (Yes, this is the part of the story where the warning bells in your head should start ringing.)

Continue reading "My Christmas Tree Adventures" »

What? Diplomats participated in a Hunger Banquet?

Students aren't the only ones organizing Hunger Banquets.  Recently, a group of diplomats in Rome participated in a Hunger Banquet.  How cool!

Xmas drinks with a twist of bitter for Rome diplomats

By: Denis Barnett

Source:  Agence France Presse

December 14, 2005 Wednesday 12:09 PM GMT

With festive season drinks and receptions in full swing across the diplomatic circuit, three United States ambassadors came together in Rome to host a dinner with a difference for unsuspecting fellow diplomats -- mainly consisting of rice and water.

"Our dinner tonight will be a bit unusual," said Tony Hall, US ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome, introducing a "Hunger Banquet" on Tuesday designed to dramatise the problem of the world's 850 million hungry people for cocktail swilling diplomats.

With a gesture likely to turn the most practised of diplomatic smiles to ice, Hall invited the majority of those gathered -- representing 60 percent of the world's population who struggle to meet their daily food needs -- to help themselves to boiled rice and water from plastic cups.

With perfect Italian table manners, the straight-faced ambassador even said: "Buon Appetito."

One woman was told to get her water from a pitcher in the back garden, because the vast majority of the world's population do not have running water.

Continue reading "What? Diplomats participated in a Hunger Banquet?" »

Fair Trade Fest

Luther College (Decorah, IA) recently organized a Fair Trade Fest.  I've added some pictures from the Fest to the photo album, so take a look.  Here are some reflections from one participant:

Fair Trade Fest presented an alternative to holiday consumerism that was both educational and entertaining. Extending beyond the concept of 'just' trade confined to the image of one label, we organized around the idea of trading fairly - which included promotion of buying local as well as buying responsibly.

Concluding from the smiles that permeated the evening, the evening was a success.  We had a plethora of speakers from the community and campus, share about topics such as Thai rice farmers, hemp production, organic farming, and the Global Justice Movement - all interspersed with the musical talent of Luther students (and faculty).

Uniting under the umbrella of responsible trade, Fair Trade Fest engaged students and community members alike in conversation about the every-day opportunities we have to change the way the global economy impacts our world.

As the holiday seasons draw near, let us continue to share our time and love with those in our lives, as well as our brothers and sisters in our global community.

Awareness, Advocacy, Action and Ribbons

I just learned about the activities Hastings College in Nebraska organized for Hunger and Homelessness week.  They used the theme "Awareness, Advocacy, and Action."  The first day, focused on Awareness, invited students on campus to join the ONE Campaign. 235 students signed the ONE Declaration contributing to the 2 million that have now signed the declaration.

The second day focused on Advocacy.  Students set up a call center so that people could call their members of Congress and voice their concerns for those struggling with hunger and homelessness.  They provided a list of members of Congress names and phone numbers to make the process go more smoothly.  They ended up with over 60 people participating!

They also in the call center invited people to prepare sack lunches for a local food ministry.  Over 400 sack lunches were made.

Wednesday's theme was Action.  Students during their chapel service offered reflections based on experiences of working with children in poverty at the international, national, and local levels.  During the service students were also invited to fast until dinner to deepen the awareness of those who live with the daily reality of hunger.

Finally, throughout the week, the campus community could look at a multicolored rope of ribbons with the names of all students, faculty, and staff members written on the ribbons. As a symbol of hope and the power one community has when visions and actions are united, the ribbons traveled around campus to bring awareness of community empowerment.

Way to go Hastings!

campus activity update!

I recently received a BFW campus activity update from David Salverda, one of the leaders of the Coalition for Social Justice at Calvin College.  He informed me that students from Calvin College have overseen a number of successful activities this semester in support of ending hunger. First, students coordinated and ran a world hunger week in which they passed out information about hunger issues and got people to sign letters.  With the letters, they passed out Peter fish, which were later collected at a campus wide worship service. They also ran several letter writing campaigns and bassed out biblical basis for justice at their chapel. Once again, all of these efforts were successful! Good job, Calvin College!

Mozambique's World AIDS Day Celebration

I would like to introduce you to my friend Rebecca.Lago_rvm_and_i

Rebecca, a former BFW employee, now lives and works in the Niassa Province of Mozambique.  She's the HIV/AIDS coordinator in this province for the Anglican Church.  She's been living there for three years now.  She mentioned to me in an email a few weeks ago about t-shirts the church were making for World AIDS Day.  The front says, "Know your status?" and the back says, "In Christ there is no difference between positive or negative."

I think that's pretty cool - especially given the stigma people living with HIV/AIDS often face.  I asked Rebecca to write up a quick description about what she'll be doing and what celebrating in a place like Mozambique takes and this is what she sent me right before she left:

I'm off in an hour to Cobue, the last town on the shore of Lake Niassa (Lake Malawi)  where a car can reach.  (I should correct myself: where a car can reach in the dry season.  It started raining in earnest on Sunday, so it won't be drivable much longer!) We're actually taking a lorry full of 3 tons of corn, since there's quite a food shortage these days.  But the purpose isn't primarily to take corn.  The purpose is to celebrate World AIDS Day with about 200 activists from up the lakeshore.  They'll be walking all the way from the Tanzanian border to take part in the festivities-2 solid days of walking.  We'll also have some visiting activists come by boat from Malawi. I'm excited. This group seems to be very animated about fighting HIV-though the closest HIV testing center is 200 miles beyond the site of our festivities. If Mozambican statistics are applicable, 30 of the 200 activists will themselves be living with HIV.

If you're having trouble visualizing the route, here's a map:

Mozambiqueover She drove from Lichinga to Cobue (pronounced Co-bwey), which is the northwest city listed.  This part of Mozambique is bordered by Tanzania to the North and Malawi to the west (west of the lake).  The corn she is referring to is because this area of Mozambique is also affected by the famine that you may have read about happening in Malawi.

Today as we celebrate World AIDS Day on our own campuses and in our communities let's also remember the "World" part of it and remember people in places like Cobue, Mozambique that are also celebrating in their own unique ways.

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