Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

39 posts categorized "Multimedia"

Watch “The Last Hunger Season” Online

The Last Hunger Season Film Series: Part 1, "Expanding Possibilities." Watch other videos in the series here.

Today’s celebration of World Food Day lifts up the role of smallholder farmers through the theme, “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.” There are plenty of these farmers to celebrate: 500 million smallholder farmers live and work in the developing world. Most of them are women.

Last year saw the publication of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, a book by Roger Thurow, senior fellow for global agriculture and food policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and longtime friend of Bread for the World. Now there is a series of short documentary videos online that bring the book to life, telling the stories of smallholder farmers in Kenya.

Here’s a description of the story:

Africa’s small farmers, who comprise two-thirds of its population, toil in a time warp, living and working essentially as they did in the 1930s. Without mechanized equipment, fertilizer, or irrigation; using primitive storage facilities, roads, and markets; lacking capital, credit, and insurance; they harvest only one-quarter the yields of Western farmers, half of which spoil before getting to market. But in 2011 one group of farmers in Kenya came together to try to change their odds for success—and their families’ futures. Roger Thurow spent a year following their progress.

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers’ lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world’s growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO’s, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

Watch The Last Hunger Season online. Learn more about Bread’s efforts to enact much-needed reforms to U.S. food aid. Then take action to help more smallholder farmers, like those shown in Kenya, and hungry people around the world as well. 

The Jamay Jalisco Club

The Jamay Jalisco Club in Los Angeles raises money for community projects in the town of Jamay, Mexico. Screen shot from video by Jon Vidar for Bread for the World.

Across the United States, people like Pedro Ochoa are raising funds for community projects in poor Mexican towns they left behind when they migrated (watch video below). Ochoa, vice president of the Jamay Jalisco Club in Los Angeles, is part of a vast network of U.S.-based Hometown Associations that send money — remittances — to Mexico and Central America. Ochoa's latest project is getting a school bus to Jamay, Mexico, his hometown, so children there don’t have to walk far to school.

“Our plan is to do what they do here in the States: pick up the kids from wherever they are,” said Ochoa. “I don’t have much family in Jamay but I have my heart to help people in it.”

But while remittances can improve community infrastructure, they rarely result in jobs or investments that give people alternatives to migrating from their countries for work. There’s a growing recognition in the diaspora that there need to be more projects resulting in sustainable income in hometowns. Agencies like the Inter-American Foundation are already working with diaspora investors to support small businesses and agricultural enterprises in high-migration countries like El Salvador. Larger agencies like the Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID can expand these programs to places like Jamay in Mexico and throughout Central America.

To learn more about the links between remittances, immigration, and development, read my colleague Andrew Wainer's latest paper on the topic and visit Bread's immigration web page.

Laura-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter @lauraepohl.


USAID Launches Fifth Birthday Campaign

According to USAID, this year more than 7 million children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. This shocking fact is the basis for a new campaign aimed at ending child deaths from preventable causes such as disease, hunger, and extreme poverty.

Watch the video below to learn more.

Mario Batali's Week-Long Food Stamp Challenge Draws Attention to Vital Nutrition Programs

Screenshot taken from The Chew

Taking the food stamp challenge for a week is a far cry from the reality nearly 49 million Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) recipients face trying to stretch their SNAP dollars to the end of the month. But for celebrity chef Mario Batali, taking the food stamp challenge starts a conversation, and that's a good thing.

The reality for people who rely on SNAP goes beyond just the struggle to eat, and often includes a myriad of other challenges, such as gaining stable hours at work, paying for rent, keeping the lights on, and getting to the doctor. Nearly 99 percent of SNAP households have net incomes below the poverty line (about $22,000 a year for a family of four in 2011). For Batali, who is currently taking the food stamp challenge for one week, planning a week of meals for his family of four on $124 was, “not at all relaxing.”  Batali says, “It’s very much thinking about it all the time, which is what I imagine hunger feels like on a regular basis.”

In a brief backstage interview for his TV show, The Chew, Batali goes on to note that taking a challenge is not the same as living the reality, “It’s easy for us because we all know that next week we are going back to whatever we do. But it’s an interesting conversation every day to think about what hunger is, what food is, what nutrition is -- in a way that really makes us think about it on a much more personal level.” [See the video below.]

Another reality is that SNAP works. In tough economic times SNAP has been a life-line to families. As the economy heals, participation in the program will decrease.

Yet some in Congress want to force families out of the program. The House has proposed cutting $169 billion to SNAP and some have said that the churches can pick up the slack. Proposed changes like block granting would mean 8 to 10 million people would lose benefits that put food on the table. It would require roughly every religious congregation, on average, an additional $50,000 per year over 10 years to make up for these cuts. 

We need your help to turn the conversation into action. In June, members of Bread for the World will be in D.C. for our annual Lobby Day. We will be carrying petitions to our members of Congress that say people of faith find cuts to SNAP unacceptable. We have set a goal that the petition will include 5,000 religious leaders. Sign the petition and please make a commitment to ask your community’s leaders to speak up and defend our nation’s most effective line of defense against hunger.

Robin-stephensonRobin Stephenson is a regional organizer at Bread for the World.



The Civil Wars: Raising Hunger Awareness with Song

120302-thecivilwarsGrammy Award winners The Civil Wars are receiving acclaim for their song with Taylor Swift, “Safe and Secure,” for the upcoming Hunger Games film, but many don't know that singing duo scored another film about hunger, the documentary Finding North, about hunger in America. [Stay tuned for my interview with the directors of Finding North, coming out Monday!]

In this interview below, Joy Williams and John Paul White, the artists behind The Civil Wars, talk about how they became involved in this groundbreaking documentary through the guidance of T Bone Burnett, one of the best producers in the music industry. “We could not have been more stoked about it,” John Paul White said.

It’s clear that hunger is an important issue for The Civil Wars. Joy Williams explains the importance of seeing a film like Finding North in order to understand the larger, systemic problems of hunger in America:

Forty-four million people go to bed hungry in America and don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and so [Finding North] highlights food insecurity in the United States, which basically means food deserts where people literally don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. [The film] definitely puts a face to what I would consider an epidemic in the United States.

It’s refreshing to hear Williams talk about hunger so knowledgeably and it’s my hope that their involvement in the documentary will get more people to watch the film, learn about hunger, and begin advocating for poor and hungry people in their communities.

Watch the interview with The Civil Wars below:

JCHOI_SMWKNDJeannie Choi is associate editor at Bread for the World. Follow her on Twitter at @jeanniechoi.


+Learn how to advocate for poor and hungry people

Photo caption: Screenshot from Magnifier video.

Francis in His Time, Franciscan in Our Time

Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, the catholic church relations liaison at Bread for the World, delivered a reflection at the Franciscan Mission Service for their inaugural Sunday Souposium. Her talk, entitled "Francis in his time, Franciscan in our time," focused on how Christians are called to be in relationship with God:

Several years ago there was a question that was very popular: What would Jesus do? Do you remember that? And it was, "WWJD?" It was all over the place from bumper stickers to bracelets, really.

It's a good question. It's a reminder of Jesus's example of how to act. However, for Francis, Jesus was not only a reminder, an example, a person to be imitated, but a brother, a lord, the Word of God, the revealer of God, and the center of the Spirit.

So the relationship of Francis to Jesus was so real and so intimate that he was called to imitate Jesus not only in what Jesus did, but also in how Jesus lived: humbly, courageously, gently, directing everyone and everything to God. The incarnate Jesus is the extravagant love of God.

Below are three video excerpts of Sister Margaret Mary's talk. Watch, listen, meditate, and share your thoughts with us in the comments below.




Learn more about the Franciscan Mission Service.

My Top 5 Humanitarian Photo Blogs

These women are part of a sewing/tailoring workshop at a family center run by MRDS.org in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq. (Copyrighted photo courtesy of Heber Vega)

If people remember a photograph, they are more likely to remember the issue or event that goes along with it. As a photographer, I try to take memorable and striking photos that will help our members remember the issues of  hunger and poverty.

But when it comes to photographing hunger and poverty-related issues, there's the added responsibility of maintaining the dignity of the people being photographed. It's what I aim for in my photography for Bread for the World, and it's what these photographers do well on their blogs.

Here are my top five humanitarian photo blogs, in no particular order:

  • Esther Havens is an American photographer whose work I first stumbled upon on the Charity:Water blog. Her vibrant pictures capture people's strength, dignity, and unique personalities. Some of her pictures are even funny -- which is rare in humanitarian photography -- as you can see in this blog post about Rwandan boys participating in an education and food program. Don't miss her post about the reality of working as a humanitarian photographer.
  • Glenna Gordon, an American photojournalist, shuttles between West Africa and New York, but used to live in Liberia, where she photographed for newspapers and NGOs. If you're looking for news and music from Africa, plus fresh photographs and introspective commentary about life in Africa, then you'll enjoy Glenna's blog, Scarlett Lion. Her photo story on Harper, Liberia, a decaying coastal town, is a must-see.
  • Heber Vega is a humanitarian aid worker-turned-photographer who has been based in Iraq since 2003. His blog is a mix of his own photography -- like this post on photographing women in a Muslim Country; interviews with other photographers; and advice on photographic techniques. One thing that impresses me about Heber, who's from Chile, has nothing to do with his pictures: he founded The ONE-SHOT Project, a nonprofit that teaches photography and multimedia skills to Iraqi children.
  • Photo Philanthropy is well-known in photography circles for promoting photography for social change. Every year since 2009, the organization has granted awards for the best humanitarian photo stories from professional and amateur photographers (full disclosure: I entered the contest in its first year and didn't win). The blog features pictures, interviews with Photo Philanthropy award winners and grantees, and opportunities for photographers to work with nonprofits.

If you know any other humanitarian photo blogs that you like to visit, please share them with us in the comments. And don't forget to check out Bread for the World's Flickr stream and the Bread Blog for beautiful photos and compelling stories.

(Copyrighted photo courtesy of Esther Havens)

Laura-elizabeth-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World. 



NPR Story: SNAP is a Lifeline for Millions

Federal nutrition programs are finding ways to connect the people who rely on them with a healthy selection of foods. Photo by Jim Stipe.

I recently wrote about the polarized campaigns and public support for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). A reader just sent me a great NPR story focused on these issues and I wanted to share it with you all.

I particularly recommend listening for their interview with Kisha Castillo of Silver Spring, MD. Like so many, Kisha never thought she would have to rely on SNAP, but has become a victim of the stagnant economy. This story reflects what we know is true: SNAP is a lifeline for millions of Americans who are struggling to put food on the table. Check it out here.

Ben-d'avanzoBen D'Avanzo is Mimi Meehan Fellow at Bread for the World. 



+Learn more about SNAP and how you can take action.

Educating the Future, One Child at a Time

Picture 3
Screenshot from "Educate the Future" by the Global Campaign for Education.

“To get to school, I had to walk barefoot three miles, uphill both ways.”

You might be used to hearing this joke, poking fun at our parents’ and grandparents’ views on how “kids today” have got it so easy, compared to what they had to endure in order to receive an education. But all over the world, there are millions of “kids today” who are actually living this reality every day.

Around the world, 69 million children don’t have easy access to education, if they have the opportunity to go to school at all, according to the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), an organization dedicated to promoting access to education as a human right. Nearly 250 million children have to work in order to help their families get by, and it’s hard enough to study for hours without having to worry about helping your family pay their day to day bills … especially when you’re a child.

The GCE is trying to change those figures, by organizing faith-based groups, NGOs, foundations, teachers unions, and other organizations to create a coalition to advocate for a greater emphasis on education as a priority in poverty-focused development assistance.

In a new video showcasing some of the group’s youngest activists, teenage students stand in front of the Capitol building, spelling out “Education for All” with a paper-chain of links decorated by other supporters of the initiative.

One girl emphatically states that she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but that she thinks that’s the beauty of education — because it gives her the opportunity to choose from so many potential career paths. For many children around the world, the chance to simply have a career is more than they can ask for.

Hopefully someday, the parents worldwide who had to say, “I walked miles without shoes to get to school,” will have children who will  someday joke about it as well—because everyone will have easy access to quality education, and “those days” will just be a memory.  

To learn more about the Global Campaign for Education, watch the video below or check out their website at campaignforeducation.org

Emily-Warner Emily Warne is a communications intern at Bread for the World.


Living in Hope: HIV/AIDS in Uganda and St. Francis Health Care Services

This red dirt road leads to St. Francis Health Care Services, an HIV/AIDS clinic in Jinja, Uganda, near the source of the Nile River.  (Video story at the end of this blog post.)

At the end of a red dirt road, near the source of the Nile River is St. Francis Health Care Services, an HIV/AIDS clinic serving some of the poorest people in Jinja District, Uganda. The power is out at the clinic, but no one is fazed.

The pharmacists continue to dispense medicine to their patients out of their small office, as sunlight streams through windows despite the drawn curtains. The medical assistants continue to diagnose patients, who wait their turn while sitting in blue plastic chairs in the hallway. And Faustine Ngarambe -- founder and executive director of St. Francis Health Care Services -- continues to work on plans to expand the clinic's programs, which serve about 600 people per week.

"HIV is not only a health issue; it’s economical, it is psychological, it is even a cultural taboo -- all of those things," said Ngarambe. He doesn't have a medical background, but in 2009, he won the Parliamentary HIV/AIDS Leadership Award from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

St. Francis offers its patients services that heal not only the body, but the mind as well: counseling, nutrition and agriculture education, financial assistance, support groups for young people and grandmothers, and more. It's this kind of holistic approach to HIV/AIDS care that has made Uganda an oft-cited role model for decreasing HIV/AIDS rates. HIV prevalence in Uganda is currently at 6 to 7 percent, according to a UNAIDS report released yesterday, down from about 14 percent in 1990, according to this UNAIDS study from 2010.

Ngarambe became interested in HIV/AIDS care in 1989 while working as a missionary in Kenya. A Ugandan friend was HIV positive, but wouldn't disclose his diagnosis; the stigma was too great.

"He was dying silently within himself," said Ngarambe. "And when he was brought back to Uganda for burial, even his parents did not even view the body."

When Ngarambe returned Uganda, he and four colleagues started St. Francis Health Care Services. The clinic has grown from just five staff members and no permanent facilities in 1998, to 37 staff members, 100 community volunteers, and two permanent treatment facilities in 2011.

In a grassy field near St. Francis's main building sits Ngarambe's latest project: A maternity ward -- half-finished and in need of more funding -- that will specialize in prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmision. The ward is a result of the United Nations designation of Uganda as one of 22 priority countries for eliminating mother-to-child transmission.

St. Francis receives financial support from local and international sources, including the Stephen Lewis Foundation and Nile Breweries, but finances -- as well as a lack of enough equipment, space, and staff -- are always a concern. In addition, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said last week it will cut funding to several countries, including Uganda. This could hurt the nationwide effort to fight AIDS.

Still, Ngarambe presses forward.

"The thing that motivates me very much," he said, "is because I've touched peoples' lives and restored -- as our slogan -- restoring hope and dignity of the people who have been devastated by the HIV/AIDS epidemic."

Laura-elizabeth-pohlLaura Elizabeth Pohl is multimedia manager at Bread for the World.


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