I’m on Day 9 of 21 Days for World Hunger, and I would like to share a story about a young woman named Birke. Birke, 14 years old and living in Awasa, Ethiopia, has had more than her fair share of obstacles in her life. Having lost both of her parents to HIV/AIDS and with no relatives to live with, she was forced to live on her own in a rented room. For Birke, this meant that she had to pay for her school, food, rent, and other expenses with no outside help.
Determined to carry on, she found work in local households washing clothes and gardening; a skill she learned as a small child from her mother. Sadly, these jobs could not provide her with the money she needed to get by.
Not willing to give up on her education, Birke discovered the USAID Urban Gardens program at her school. The program connects HIV/AIDS affected women and children with plots of land provided by schools, local government, or other individuals. The program supported by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides education on HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and supplies beneficiaries with drip irrigation kits. Birke, who’s been a part of the program for over two years, grows a variety of vegetables to sell at the local market. By using drip-irrigation that gradually feeds water from a reservoir, Birke can attend school all day without having to worry about watering her vegetables.
Birke’s garden means both nutrition and income. By selling her vegetables at the local market she is able to make 200 birr (around US $16) from each monthly harvest. With this money she is able to pay her rent and other expenses. Along with the economic benefit of the Urban Gardens program, Birke has also enjoyed the positive social change gardening has brought to her. When asked if she felt any discrimination due to her orphan status, she responded that all of her fellow students are very supportive.
Beginning with her mother’s early teachings on gardening and continuing with USAID’s Urban Gardens program, Birke has learned both social and technical skills that will contribute to her future.
To learn more about USAID’s Sustainable Agriculture, check out this link. Thanks to Tom Cole for sharing this inspiring story.
Makin’ it through Day 9
Okay, even with that lovely story about Birke, I was a bit downtrodden today after trying to mimic the diet of the approximately 1 billion hungry for the last 9 days. And I had been doing so well these past couple of days! I think it had more to do with the fact it was a beeeeautiful Sunday, and I stuck myself inside working all day. I felt particularly bummed when the husband and the puppy went to the beach for some fun. Whine alert: I’ve fallen behind on my work because of all the world hunger research, so that’s how I spent my day. Blech. I was envious of all the people who were enjoying themselves; and starting around noon, I was feeling shaky-hungry. Double-blech. I ask myself if it’s worth it. To spend my days on real work and my nights on world hunger research. Am I helping anyone? Helping anyone at all? And who was I to feel sorry for myself when there is real suffering happening every minute of every day in every part of the world? I mean, look at Birke. She’s 14 years old. What kind of strength must it take for a 14 year old orphan to transcend such hardship?
I wasted a good 30 minutes feeling sorry for myself and decided buck up buckaroo, what good could pity do? A large handful of peanuts and a timely message from a friend helped pull me out of the fleeting funk.
The trick is never to give up. Thank you for caring for the poor and the weak and the voiceless.
I wonder what the starving people do when they feel hopeless. I suppose it’s different for each personality. Some carry on and some surrender to the dismal oppression of defeat. I guess there are some who swing in and out of a myriad of moods. Just like…well, most people, hungry or not.
A few days ago I emailed NBC’s Biggest Loser TV program and submitted the following request after explaining to them what I’m doing:
Today I was thinking about The Biggest Loser and the amazing forum you have for bringing about awareness of World Hunger. Would you be willing to make any mention of the fact that 1 billion 20 million people in the world are going hungry and how by your contestants losing weight (eating less food and hopefully consuming more vegetarian fare) they are helping to alleviate the suffering of over 1 billion people? I would also gladly provide you with information. For now, we need more people to care. The Biggest Loser has a massive following and enormous influence. Delivering a message about how each person can help affect change by switching up some calories for compassion could have a phenomenal impact on World Hunger.
Here’s the message I received from NBC:
Thanks for your email. NBC values your comments, but unfortunately, due to the volume of emails we receive, we cannot respond to each one. Please check our FAQ section to see if your question is answered there:
Since we cannot accept unsolicited scripts, show ideas, or other creative material, any such submission by email will be deleted without being read.
While I wasn’t surprised to receive an automated response, I was still hoping a real person would’ve followed up. I am still hoping. If anyone has any more ideas for reaching out, I am an open vessel for receiving your ideas.
Today’s nutritional intake – I’m holding steady at 116 pounds and dinner consisted of leftovers:
|Chai Tea||12 oz||192||4.25||30.5||0.75||0.75||65||25.5||0|
|Black Eyed Peas||.25 cup (dry)||120||0||21||4||8||0||2||153|
|Leftover Sweet Potato||1/2 cup||90||0||20.5||3.5||2||36||6||150|
|Lentils||1.5 cup cooked||339||1.5||58.5||24||27||707||6||1097|
However mean your life is, meet it and live it: do not shun it and call it hard names. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.
- Henry David Thoreau
To support the organizations I write about in the series, purchase a World Hunger: Be the Solution Tee. Proceeds from the shirt will go to the Small Planet Institute Fund and the International Fund for Africa. All tees are sweat free and available in organic cotton. To see the selection of World Hunger tees at Conducive’s Humanitarian & Human Rights Tee store, click here
To follow this series from the beginning, you can follow the links below:
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 1
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 2
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 3
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 4
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 5
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 6
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 7
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 8
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 10
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 11
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 12
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 13
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 14
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 15
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 16
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 17
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 18
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 19
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 20
21 Days for World Hunger: Day 21
Solutions for World Hunger: Part I
Solutions for World Hunger: Part II
Solutions for World Hunger: Part III