Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

5 posts from January 2006


Last week I was blessed to travel down to Lousiania and work with Habitat for Humanity for a week in disaster reconstruction.  It was a most wonderful, rejuvinating week, working with great people, and a much needed break from politics in DC!  I worked in Slidell, LA, in an area that was about 4 miles away from Lake Ponchatrain, and yet because of the levee break, this area of town had 4 feet of standing water in houses!  The lake had risen that far out, it was quite incredible, and saddly, we were rebuilding Habitat homes, and the owners had just moved in the houses in June, only to have them destroyed at the end of August.

THe most wonderful experience for me was working with a 23 year old mother of 2, who was doing "community service."  It was this, or 6-months in jail.  THis young woman was quite the character, swearing, refusing to work, having already been thrown off several habitat and other community service sites. In her off time she was a dancer on Burboun Street in New Orleans. It seems that no one had ever taken the time to work with this ONE person, and show her somecar and love.  It was my goal of the week to get her to work hard, and not simply hold a paintbrush in her hand. 

It really is amazing how when we simply listen, talk, include and engage even the people that seem the most lost, how quickly things change.  After a couple days she said she went back to her parole officer and buddies, and bragged that "I actually had FUN at community service today."  The next day she got a baby-sitter for her children so she could stay later.  By the last day, she was painting up a storm  with me, laughing, taking group photos with my team, and telling us she would even return after her manditory hours were finished.  It was so amazing to see this transformation in this girl, I was truely inspired about how each of our individual actions can truely make a difference.

Whether people are in the US, or in developing nations, many times they can become empowered to rise out of poverty simply if they are encouraged.  So often, in my time in Uganda, friends would tell me that the world just thinks they are stupid, black, poor Africans, and so they cannot do anything.  Of course this is not true, but what difference it really does make when I would work with community womens groups, listen to them, encourage, and maybe a couple pointers. Quickly simles would appear, and they would thank me to coming to their village, as a 'rich' westener, and 'caring about their poor village'. 

Yes, I work in DC on large scale political issues, trying to make BIG change but we all must remember that as important as this is, it is equally important to do the little ONE on ONE things.  If this encouragement is not present, than the additional ONE percent of the federal budget for poverty-focused development assistance will not be put to the best use it could be.  To defeat poverty, the money must come, but also must come the passion, compassion, respect and faith in people to overcome poverty themselves.

Change in US foreign Policy

This morning Washington Post's article on the shift in US diplomatic relations is one to read!  Since the Cold War the US has been focused on combatting communism, but now this is not so much needed, so Rice is changing US relations to combat terrorism. 

This could have a drastic impact on poverty-reduction.  I would argue that the best way to rid the world of terrorism would be to focus on poverty-reduction, and give people the tools to survive, then they would not feel so oppressed and want to lash out at others who have more or may have contributed to their poverty.

But for all those high school students out there, it looks like good college courses to pick may include learning Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, and Urdu, as learning these will soon be the only way to advance in jobs with State.

Conference on Faith and Development

Calvin College is hosting an awesome national student conference Feb. 9-11 that is addressing issues related to faith and international development.  Bread for the World's own president, David Beckmann will be one of the keynote speakers.  Some topics that will be discussed will be:

What is the relationship between development, missions, and evangelism?
What is holistic development?
What types of organizations are out there advocating for the poor?
What is our government’s responsibility and role in the face of global injustice?
What does a life and career working abroad look like? Is it possible to be an advocate for the poor in my native country?

Not coninced you want to go?  Guess what....it only costs students $35!!!!!!!!  Registration is open until Jan 31.  I would encourage you to consider attending, I think it's going to be a great event!

Global Pictures


I am a sucker for photography, especially since they can convey so much in one shot. Ansel Adams once said, "a true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words". So true.

In relation to Bread for the World and the issues of hunger and poverty in particular, photography is an important tool in bringing an otherwise distant audience closer to the real-life situations they work towards alleviating: HIV/AIDS, famine, conflict and often unseen domestic and international poverty. 

Check out these sites for some great photography and the issues surrounding them:

http://www.panos.co.uk/ (Click on "News")


http://www.stevemccurry.com/ (Click on "gallery")


Georgetown Writes Letters!

This is long overdue, but Ashley and I wanted to post something about the letter writing campaign we held on campus at Georgetown in November.  The bulk of it took place on Friday of Hunger and Homelessness week when we sat at a table in the center of campus all day.  We had two sample letters for people to copy.  One was domestic focused and asked for support of the Hunger-Free Communities Act, and the other was more international and asked representatives to support the MDG Resolution.

The fact that it was one of the first cold days of the semester was a little bit discouraging.  We were not excited to sit outside all day and worried that no one would want to stop.  However, after about 15 minutes the first person stopped, and he was from Hawaii!  I think sitting outside gave us a small sense of solidarity with homeless or other impoverished people who don’t have a choice about whether to sit outside in the cold.

Another interesting pair of letter-writters was a mother and her elementary school aged son.  It was interesting to see him ask his mother, and then Ashley and I, what the letters were for.  We wondered what kind of effect the letter in the little boy's handwriting would have on a representative.

Our table was located in between tables for a campus group advertising the Homelessness Walk in DC and a table for an AIDS awareness group.  Sitting so close together made us all realize that our issues were connected.  Our domestic letter encouraged Congress to support the Hunger-Free Communities Act, which would benefit many of the same people as the Homelessness walk.  Likewise, our international letter that pushed the MDG Resolution would have a powerful impact on global AIDS.

On the whole, anyone who stopped by our table that day was interested in what we had to say.  Many people who did not have time to write the letter took a sample letter with them to write later.  By the end of the day, we had over thirty letters, and we are still continuing to tell friends, family, and anyone else about the campaign.  If you are interesting in writing a letter to your Senator or Representative, here is the sample domestic letter and the international ONE Campaign sample letter.  You can find out who your representative is here.

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