Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

World Cup 2014: "Citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Saturday, July 5: Argentina v. Belgium; Netherlands v. Costa Rica

Messi_Copa_America_2011 Today, as the World Cup quarter finals draw near, Argentina will face Belgium, followed by the Netherlands v. Costa Rica.  After doing battle with the U.S. team, Belgium emerged victorious to compete with Argentina—which enters the match with three wins in the tournament. While both the Netherlands and Costa Rica have been equal in their matchups thus far, this game will decide which team has the most prowess and determination to advance.

Undoubtedly, Lionel Messi, team leader and top scorer for Argentina, will continue to drive his fellow footballers to victory. Keylor Navas, goalkeeper for Costa Rica, will also shoulder the hopes of his team. Both Messi and Navas have teammates who place great faith in their abilities. Even more impressive is that Navas and Messi are both faithfully dedicated to ending poverty and hunger in their home countries.

Having experienced poverty himself, Messi is an avid supporter of programs that fight hunger and poverty, and firmly believes in the importance of soccer as an outlet. “I believe that sports are really important for children…I learned my most important lessons in life through sport,” he has said. “It is where I had my opportunity, and I wish the same for them.”  

Similar to Messi, Navas has faith that, one day, no child will know the pain of hunger or the limitations of poverty. Navas has spoken about how his role in the World Cup is in the hands of God, and how he hopes to make the most of his time in the spotlight by giving back to those in need.  He believes that “with continual government reinforcement of poverty as a priority, citizens suffering from extreme poverty and hunger can be liberated.”

Keylor and Navas are not alone in their work to help their countries end hunger and support organizations that work to eliminate hunger worldwide—these players and their teammates rely on the support of their fans, both on and off the field.

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Lionel Messi at the 2011 Copa America. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Chasing Soccer Balls and Dreams

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Friday, July 4: Brazil v. Columbia

As the World Cup approaches the quarter finals, today’s match between Brazil and Columbia is sure to be a demonstration of talent, strategy, and love of the game. Having won 15 matches so far, Dante, one of the stars of Brazil's squad, has said that the team is looking forward to the next game, and hopes to advance to the semifinals. With two wins, including one tough victory over Uruguay, Columbia has key player Carlos Sanchez to thank for many of the team’s game-changing tactics in the tournament.

Dante_Bonfim_Costa_SantosThe determination both men have displayed on the field can also be seen in their work to help people escape hunger and poverty.  

Dante, a center back for Brazil, first began playing soccer on the cobbled streets of Salvador. “Childhood in Salvador was tough…but through football I have been able to give a good life to my family. I am glad I have worked so hard for this and I had a chance to be a better person and help many people,” Dante said in a recent interview.  He supports several charities and organizations that are working to end hunger and poverty, including a campaign to help children’s villages in Brazil. Several other players on the team have also experienced hunger and poverty firsthand, and are working with programs in Brazil that address these problems.

Sanchez, a defensive midfielder for Columbia, was raised in poverty in a small city in the northwest part of the country. “There wasn’t always enough food to put a meal on the table at the end of the day,” he has said. Sanchez would often spend hours playing soccer not only to improve his skills, but to help him ignore hunger pains. Today, Sanchez supports UNICEF and its efforts to help end hunger and poverty in Columbia.

Both Dante and Sanchez are working to create a world where no one is hungry, and all children are free to chase not only soccer balls, but their dreams.

Photo: Dante, playing in a 2013 match. (Wikimedia Commons)

‘Not Called to Win; Just to be Faithful’

Advocacy-in-actionElections aren't all about winning, are they? A group of Bread activists in the Birmingham, Ala., area realizes that they have an uphill battle in getting their issues heard by candidates in this fall's elections, but they are staying focused on what's important: just being faithful in their advocacy.

Alabama's 6th Congressional District, based around the suburbs of Birmingham, is represented by Republican Spencer Bachus, who is retiring from Congress when his current term ends in 2015.

A runoff election in July will determine which Republican candidate will compete for Bachus' seat in the general election in November. The Republican nominee is almost certain to win in the district, which the National Review Online called "the reddest district in the country."

In the meantime, the Bread activists in the area are deciding how to raise issues of hunger and poverty with the final two candidates as well as getting themselves organized for general and ongoing advocacy activities for Bread.

Suzanne Stigler Martin has done most of the coordinating of the Bread group and reviving its membership after a previous leader, who had built a strong group over a number of years, left and members fell away.

The earlier group of activists had worked hard to win Bachus over on issues related to hunger, and the congressman had actually changed his mind about debt relief in the Jubilee Campaign of 2000. The current group is looking to continue the legacy they've had with Bachus with his successor.

With Martin, the current group has organized itself into teams so that leadership is not so dependent on one person and so the work is spread out.

The teams divide the work into areas such as outreach to churches, advocacy, and elections strategy. The group started a Facebook page to promote their work and provide education on hunger and poverty issues. During the slower summer months, the group plans to add educational items on immigration reform.

The group has been actively trying to engage new congregations in the area in Bread work, encouraging them to hold an Offering of Letters or move to the "next level" by adding advocacy if they have a food pantry or soup kitchen, for example. The group has used the visits of Bread's regional organizer, LaMarco Cable, to encourage congregations to connect with issues being debated in Washington, D.C.

For its congressional campaign work, Martin said the group tried to contact all of the candidates running in the primary with three basic questions related to hunger and a deadline to respond. They planned to post the responses on their Facebook page.

Martin said that it was a challenge for the group to try to contact seven or eight candidates, so it has decided to wait until there are just two candidates in the general election. She said in a primary campaign candidates tend to be focused more on winning the nomination and less on issues.
Martin has other tips for similar groups that want to be involved in congressional campaigns:

  • Appoint a person to monitor candidates' campaigns for events that Bread activists can attend.
  • Try to get to know the candidates as human beings. Befriend them so that you become a trusted source or adviser on hunger issues.
  • Work your networks. If nobody in your group knows a candidate directly, maybe a friend knows a candidate and can make an introduction.

Overall, Martin says advocacy work is for the long-haul. "There's a lot of opportunity. It just takes time," she said. Her group's work shows that it's about developing relationships with not only political candidates in a campaign but also with church members. She adds: "We are not called to win; we are just called to be faithful."

This post originally appeared in Bread for the World's July newsletter.

Defend the Rights of the Poor: Tell Congress to Pass Immigration Reform

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Rosa tends to the family live stock, a usual task for many children in rural Guatemala where she lives. Child malnutrition rates are also among the highest in the world causing an annual GDP loss estimated at $300m. Immigration reform must address the poverty and hunger that drives migration.  (Joseph Mollieri/Bread for the World)

By Eric Mitchell

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the southern U.S. border. In their home countries, many of these children face violence, extreme poverty, and hunger. With hopes for a better future for their children, parents have made the difficult decision to send their children thousands of miles away to escape the horrible conditions at home.

Your Representative needs to hear from you! We need to flood their offices with calls and emails in the next 48 hours.

Politics may be blocking comprehensive immigration reform, but Congress shouldn’t wait to act! This issue is more than just law enforcement or what happens at the border. Congress must address the root causes of migration.

Can you take two minutes right now to contact your Representative? Simply say: I urge you to pass legislation that supports development-assistance programs, especially those addressing migration push factors, including hunger and poverty.

Call (800-826-3688) or email your U.S. representative today and urge for a vote on immigration reform.

If we support successful development programs in countries like Honduras and Guatemala, we can help to not only reduce hunger and poverty, but also the likelihood of parents sending their children to migrate alone to the United States.

There are only a few days left before Congress leaves for its August recess. Our faith calls us to “defend the rights of the poor.”

Please help us get  calls and emails to Congress in the next 48 hours.

Eric Mitchell is the director of government relations as Bread for the World.

World Cup 2014: How the United States and Belgium Fight Hunger and Poverty

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Tuesday, July 1: U.S. v. Belgium

JozyAdvancing after a close and compelling match with Germany, the U.S. team will play Belgium today.  The players will surely kick things up a notch as the semifinals draw near. Despite the tension around this match, there is one thing that both U.S. and Belgium fans can agree on—both countries are making strides in combatting hunger and poverty.

In the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, a large percentage of the population—approximately 46.5 million people—still remains victim to the epidemics of hunger and poverty. While programs are in place to alleviate hunger and eliminate poverty, the nation’s leaders have not yet made ending hunger a top priority.

Jozy Altidore, one of the U.S. team’s key players, has said that, “I may be a young person, but I believe it’s never too early to want to make a difference.” As a supporter of several charity missions, Alitidore is one of many premier athletes who supports the idea of a hunger-free nation.

Belgium, according to 2007 figures, has a poverty rate of about 15 percent. Two of the players for Belgium, Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen, pride themselves on doing charity work in the Congo—previously a Belgian colony. Ambassadors for the cause of ending hunger and poverty worldwide, Kompany and Vermaelen shine on and off the field as they support the goal of a hunger-free world. Kompany comments, “…if you can take a child who had no chance and give them a chance to become someone who can make a difference, then how much more beautiful can a story be?”

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Jozy Altidore in a U.S. v. Austria match. (Wikimedia Commons)

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Give now and double your impact

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Photo: Elisabeth and her family upon arrival at Burbe. Story and image courtesy of World Food Program USA (@wfpusa).

By David Beckmann

Since May, more than 16,000 people have crossed the Baro River into the tiny border town of Burbe, Ethiopia. Most of the refugees are mothers and children, and far too many share stories of husbands, fathers, and brothers lost to violence in South Sudan.

"A lot of people have died. People are running in different directions. There's no food, no water," says Elisabeth Nyapal, who crossed the river with her six children and a small mattress.

Relief workers distribute meals and administer vaccines. Without them, the death count would be unthinkable.

But despite the growing need for speedy and efficient relief in times of crisis, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would direct $75 million in food-aid funding to shipping conglomerates — effectively snatching food from the mouths of 2 million hungry people.

We can't let that happen. We need to raise our collective Christian voice and say no. To make this happen, a generous group of Bread members has offered to match your gift dollar-for-dollar if you donate by July 15.

Your gift today will support Bread's education, organizing, and advocacy efforts to ensure that food aid reaches the people who need it most. Your gift will also promote policy changes that would allow relief agencies to purchase food near famine-stricken areas—saving lives in times of crisis and boosting local economies.

"For us, everything is destroyed," says Elisabeth. "We are asking the international community to help us get a better life."

Help Elisabeth and her family by supporting Bread’s efforts to make U.S. food-aid programs work more efficiently. Please donate today while your gifts will be matched. Give now and make twice the difference.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

World Cup 2014: Lucky in Soccer, Lucky in Life

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Reina Villanueva

If the World Cup had a yearbook, Nigeria and Algeria might have been voted “The Teams Least Likely to Advance.” However, both countries unexpectedly held their own against legendary teams such as Germany and Argentina to advance to today’s Knockout Round match. Some might say that they were simply lucky. But luck is nothing new for team captains Madjid Bougherra of Algeria and Joseph Yobo of Nigeria. Both star players know that they have not only been lucky in soccer, but also in life.

Madjid_Bougherra_2011_2With 61 percent of households in Nigeria living in hunger and poverty, Joseph Yobo was one of the lucky few to grow up with access to running water, electricity, and an education. However, this was not the reality for many of his neighbors.

“When I went to the homes of abandoned kids and those living with HIV/AIDS, I was close to tears and begin to appreciate how lucky some of us are in the world,” Yobo told BBC in 2007. “I see myself as someone who is privileged enough to be able to help elevate others who are not so fortunate.”

This realization is what pushed Yobo to start his own charity foundation. The Joseph Yobo Charity Foundation has provided food, mattresses, and scholarships to needy children in the soccer player’s hometown.

Like his opponent, Bougherra has used his fame to help the impoverished children of his home country of Algeria. Spurred by his own humble upbringings, the Algerian team captain became a UNICEF Ambassador in 2011.

“A player has to use his image to do positive things, because football is a great sport played by millions of people around the world,” explained Bougherra. “Personally, I have the greatest respect for players who help develop the game and are committed to society. A lot of them were born in poor neighborhoods and feel as if they have a mission to perform, which just shows the power of the modern game today.”

Yobo and Bougherra may be unlikely soccer stars and surprising challengers in the World Cup, but they are certainly making an impact in the lives of many children living in poverty.

Reina Villanueva is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at American University in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Madjid Bougherra passes the ball during a Qatar Stars League match. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: "If it’s about doing something for the kids of my country, I am in."

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Sunday, June 29: Mexico v. Netherlands; Costa Rica v. Greece

Today, don’t miss the match-ups of Mexico v. Netherlands and Costa Rica v. Greece—both games are expected to be battles of strategy. Many of the players put those same strategizing skills to use in their work to address hunger and poverty.  Players, such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of the Mexico team, are a part of organizations that pledge to make the world a better place for kids who aspire to make a difference through fútbol. Ultimately, these organizations and programs—with support from World Cup athletes—are working together to end hunger and poverty across the globe.

JavierMexico’s poverty rate, as of 2012, was an estimated 52.3 percent. The country is working toward achieving many of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with programs focused on the welfare and equal education opportunities of children. Mexico also receives support from global programs, such as UNICEF.

Hernandez—as a newly appointed UNICEF National Ambassador—recently said, “When I heard that UNICEF wished to invite me to become a National Ambassador, immediately I thought: if it’s about doing something for the kids of my country, I am in.” UNICEF National Ambassadors are chosen not only for their skills and prowess in their occupational fields, but also for their desire to empower future generations.

In Greece, many families are struggling to find stability, resulting in more than 14 percent of the population living in poverty. Living conditions of children in Greece have declined, as 74.1 percent of poor households with children have reported that they can’t cover their basic needs. As 2015 approaches, the country is focusing on increasing policies that will improve food security for children, create more employment opportunities, and address the need for social economic equality. Greece aspires to complete these goals in order to benefit those in need.

Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Photo: Javier Hernández Balcázar during Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion. (Wikimedia Commons)

World Cup 2014: Progress Against Poverty in Brazil, Columbia

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Bread for the World's World Cup series will use the occasion of the Cup to focus on the great advances many of the participating countries and players have made in fighting hunger and poverty. Each day, until the end of the tournament, we will highlight a country, or an individual player, that is making a difference.

By Bianca Brown

Saturday, June 28: Brazil v. Chile; Colombia v. Uruguay

After several exciting matches, and a day of rest, today Brazil will play Chile, and Columbia will play Uruguay. All of the teams are preparing for the highly anticipated matches, eager to claim victory in the prestigious tournament. In Brazil—the host country for this year’s World Cup—fans are waiting to see how the games will impact the nation’s staggering poverty levels.

As of 2007, the population living in poverty in Brazil totaled to 23 percent. We’ve previously written about the World Cup protests taking place in Brazil—many Brazilians believe the money the country has spent on the event would be better spent on health, education, and infrastructure. Still, before the Cup controversy, Brazil had made significant progress against hunger and poverty, through the Zero Hunger Initiative and other similar programs.

Similar progress toward eliminating hunger and poverty has been made in Columbia. "There is not only significant poverty, but some of the poverty is stunning in its extreme…it really is at the root of so much of the unrest that occurs," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told the Washington Post. The congressman has traveled extensively in Columbia since 2001. While 32.7 percent of the population experiences poverty, levels are decreasing, due to development assistance and a new poverty-reduction strategy adopted in 2011. The needs of the country’s impoverished citizens are reflected in its National Development Plan, which is dedicated to reducing poverty, eliminating hunger, and offering stable employment to those living in rural areas.

 Bianca Brown is an intern in Bread for the World's communications department and a senior at Georgia's Wesleyan College.

Quote of the Day: Rev. Gabriel Salguero

"Tenemos un problema. If we don't speak out there will come a time when the rocks cry out."

—Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, speaking about the need for comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform during Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering.

Bread for the World views global progress against poverty as an exodus from hunger. International migration is part of this exodus—as people move across national borders to escape poverty and improve their livelihoods. Once in the United States, immigrants typically improve their economic condition, but their legal status means they are blocked from realizing their economic potential and making full contributions to the U.S. economy. Immigration reform can change this, and reduce hunger and poverty. Email your representative and tell him or her to support compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform.

Photo: Rev. Salguero during a talk at Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering on Monday, June 9, 2014. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

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