Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

8 posts from February 2006

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

"The purpose of this conference is to create concrete action plans for next year.  We want to provide you with skills to create change," said Jenny Wood, USAC Student President at University of California, Los Angeles. 

Over the past weekend, I participated in a very well-organized and successful student-led conference - Thinking Globally, Acting Locally (TGAL.)  The best part about it - it was totally coordinated by students.  Over the course of two days, the conference provided students with education about the Millennium Development Goals, how to be an advocate on your campus and other ways to take action on issues of social justice.  TGAL brought together over 500 students from 41 different colleges and universities in California.  It was amazing!!!

The first keynote address was delivered by Carol Welch - the US Director of the Millennium Campaign.  She provided a wonderful overview of the Millennium Development Goals, the current level of funding by the US government and grassroots involvement with the goals.  Many students were inspired by the reality of the goals - it is our generation that will see their success or failure. 

During a workshop about the ONE Campaign, students came up with incredible ideas for expanding awareness about ONE on their campuses.   Check them out:

  • Coordinate a "rivalry" letter writing event.  In this case, the competition would be between UCLA and USC.  The challenge: Write more letters than the other school to members of Congress about the goals of the ONE Campaign.
  • Establish a ONE Chapter on campus.
  • Invite members of Congress who graduated from your college to speak about the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Work in coalition with other groups to plan an event about the MDGs
  • Promote awareness about the US Federal budget and how little is spent on the fight against global poverty.

Do you have any other ideas for continuing to build the movement?

Sweet tea, Fried okra, Memphis BBQ, and Baklava

Last week I got to spend three days on fieldwork in northern Mississippi.  As most of you know, a large part of my job is traveling around the country visiting college campuses to promote BFW and our Offering of Letters campaign as well as support the great work campuses are doing!  While I find the travel tiring, it's also one of my favorite parts of the job.  It also allows me to see parts of this country I've never had the opportunity to visit before, which is cool!

I've never been to Mississippi and up to this point; we haven't had a lot of connection with campuses there.  MS is important to our campaign this year because Sen. Thad Cochran is the chair of the appropriations committee - that's the committee that decides how much money gets allocated to all the poverty focused development assistance programs.

So last Tuesday, my colleague, Suzanne Berman (Bread's Southeast Faith Outreach Organizer for the ONE Camapign) and I flew into Memphis, TN.  The next morning we drove into MS - we had three campus stops on this trip: Ole Miss, MS State, and Rust College.  Wednesday was a good day, but it's our Thursday that I'm going to spend time talking about -largely because I think it was a record for me, 9 meetings in one day!!!!  (But first, I have to tell you about the awesome soul food I ate on Wednesday in Oxford, MS; rice and beans, jalapeno corn bread, fried okra, sweet potato casserole, and washed it all down with some sweet tea - yum!!!!!!  And if I could have made my stomach bigger, I would have also ordered cheese grits!)

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Campus Newsletter

Download Bread's latest campus newsletter here, (Download feb_2006.pdf).  If you didn't already receive it take a look - it's got fun pictures, info about BFW's 2006 campaign and some good features of campus events.

Sign up through BFW's website if you'd like to regularly receive it.

Olympic Fever and Darfur Children

So this post doesn't really have much to do with Bread for the World.  It's just that I have Olympic fever (I can't tell you how many times I cried about Michelle Kwan) and I thought this story was pretty cool.  Yesterday, Joey Cheeks won the gold for the 500-meter speedskating event.  He promptly decided that the $25,000 he'll get for winning the gold he will donate to his charity, Right to Play, that uses sports to help needy children.  In this case, the $25,000 will go to help children in Darfur.  Pretty cool!  It's always nice to see Olympic athletes that are also interested in world issues and poverty.  If you're interested in reading more of the story, you can read the full Washington Post article.

[And this really has nothing to do with hunger, but are any of you as excited as I am about the women's halfpipe competion yesterday?!!!  It was so cool!!!! :o)]

Food Crisis in Africa

I just learned about a really good webpage on the BBC devoted to the food crisis in Africa.  It has good background information including a history of drought.  It's included not just news articles, but also photo journals, an aid workers diary, and stories of people struggling with hunger, but surviving.  The website features an interactive map of hunger and regional information, so you can learn about particular issues affecting an area like West Africa.  It is definitely worth taking a look and spending some time to explore the site.

Check out BBC's Africa's Food Crisis!

Here's a photo from their photo journal, Struggling to Eat.


Mini-Live Aid at Davidson

Some_of_the_planning_group_2 Davidson College (Davidson, NC) organized a great event to help raise awareness about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ONE, and hunger.  They organized a mini-Live Aid concert inspired in part by the Live 8 concerts held this past summer.  They held the event during a regularly scheduled “Live Thursdays”, a weekly nighttime venue for student performance.  They had five student perfoWill_jon_banner_1rmers and a student that emceed the evening.

As students were first gathering, they played a slideshow with pictures, statistics, and quotes about  the need for community and concern for others.  In between sets of various bands they presented information about the MDGs, the ONE Campaign, and the federal budget.  They kept the presentations short (less than five minutes) and were presented in an engaging way.  For the federal budget they used Ben Cohen’s model, so of course, also had Oreos as a snack!

In the back of the room, they set up three laptops so that students could sign the ONE Declaration  online. Signing_the_one_pledge The students that participated were interested in learning more so after the event, the organizers of the event sent out an email with more information about organizations that were working on the MDGs.  They’re also continuing the work by organizing a teach-in about the MDGs later this semester.  The same week of the teach-in, they’ll be organizing an Offering of Letters on One Spirit, One Will, Zero Poverty

Go Davidson!

Hospital Visiting Hours

Last year I introduced you to my friend Rebecca who is working in Mozambique.  From time to time, she is going to email me a "slice of life" that I can post on the blog, so you can read about what it's like for her living and working in a developing country.

3 February 2006

I don’t know Luria well, but she’s about my age and participated in a seminar I conducted in 2004.  As the daughter of a priest with whom I regularly work (and therefore in whose house I’m regularly a visitor), I see her and her fellow housemates (her parents, her three-year-old daughter, her four or five other siblings, a couple of their children, and anyone else who may be visiting) from time to time.

Luria’s sick in the hospital with tuberculosis, and today’s a holiday, so I thought I’d head over to the hospital for a visit.  Hospital visiting hours coincide with mealtimes and are clearly publicized as BREAKFAST (06:00-07:00); LUNCH (12:00-14:00); DINNER (16:00-18:00).  The correspondence of visitors’ hours with mealtimes indicates the quality and quantity of the food served by the hospital. Most visitors come bearing thermoses, steaming pots, or pieces of bread to supplement the meager hospital offerings. 

I arrived at about 6:45 this morning to find crowds outside both the men’s and the women’s wards.  Within a few minutes, the men’s ward crowd entered that building.  The women’s ward crowd, however, just kept growing, locked outside the building.  To pass the time, I wandered around the hospital complex and admired the new donor-funded construction projects (including a new pediatric ward and a big maternity ward—so women giving birth don’t have to be surrounded by all sorts of sick women). (I hope that the improvements in physical hospital infrastructure are matched by improvements in the supply inventory—in other words, that there are sufficient Tylenol tablets and bandages to serve the patients in the new wards.) It was a normal morning at the provincial hospital. A cleaning team poured buckets of water on the concrete sidewalks to clean off the mud brought by yesterday’s rain.  Members of the kitchen team carried steaming buckets (presumably filled with tea) on their heads. And at the open-all-night laboratory, people waited in line to have their fingers pricked—standing up, drive-through style—in order to confirm their suspected annual bout with malaria.

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Yes, it's Bono again!

You may have heard that yesterday Bono spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.  I conitue to be in awe at his eloquence (I wonder how many times he's kissed the blarney stone).  He broke it down.  I would recomend you read the entire transcript because every word is fantastic, but he has a beautiful section on justice, here's a bit of it:

But justice is a higher standard.  Africa makes a fool of our idea of justice; it makes a farce of our idea of equality.  It mocks our pieties, it doubts our concern, it questions our commitment. 

6,500 Africans are still dying every day of a preventable, treatable disease, for lack of drugs we can buy at any drug store.   This is not about charity, this is about Justice and Equality.

And a few lines later he goes on:

Preventing the poorest of the poor from selling their products while we sing the virtues of the free market… that’s a justice issue.  Holding children to ransom for the debts of their grandparents… That’s a justice issue.  Withholding life-saving medicines out of deference to the Office of Patents… that’s a justice issue. 

Continue reading "Yes, it's Bono again!" »

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