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fasting for hunger
Two weeks ago, the Immanuel Baptist Church encouraged dozens of people to go hungry, ironically to raise awareness for world hunger.

The inescapable irony of consensual fasts is that starving one individual does not automatically feed another.

Even more ironic, of course, is that the Immanuel Baptist Church is not the first religious institution to hold a fast to raise hunger awareness. Last April, World Vision held its annual 30-Hour Famine. Participants included high school students, college students and young adults.

“It’s tiring and at the end everybody’s hungry,” admitted 13-year-old Logan Cox, who volunteered with the Immanuel Baptist Church.

Nevertheless, when it comes to raising money for causes, the most profitable ventures tend to be those that ask its participants to do something that would otherwise be deemed impractical or downright stupid.

A fine example of this trend is the Ice Bucket Challenge of last summer. What started as an inane summertime campaign to cool down and select a charity for donations became distinctly linked to ALS once one of the nominees nominated his wife’s cousin, whose husband had the disease.

What’s so ironic about voluntarily self-submersing in paralyzingly cold water? The disease for which it raises money is known for incapacitating its victims by weakening the muscles progressively until the stricken cannot walk, speak, swallow or breathe.

A particular weakness of the Ice Bucket Challenge is that such a chilling movement can only be replicated during the warmest months of the year. As one Facebook user, who wished to remain anonymous, astutely asked last November, “Does nobody care about ALS anymore?”

Beyond technical issues like timing, the prevailing trend within these movements involves the kind of suffering people are willing to put themselves through in order to placate their inherent feelings of guilt for not having been born into poverty or beset with a life-threatening condition.

The question remains, do they raise money because people believe in the cause? Or are they effective because of the publicity that comes with collective self-sacrifice?

Perhaps there is another reason that unorthodox fundraisers are effective. Whether it’s dumping ice water for ALS, going hungry for world hunger, or running the Boston Marathon for cancer victims who are too weak to run, they all unite the global community in an act of solidarity. Maybe the acts of starving, freezing, dehydrating, cramping and collapsing are worthwhile endeavors at awakening empathy for the profoundly disadvantaged.

But what does that say about the people who choose to dedicate their professional lives to easing the burdens of others? Are they not the ones most worthy of all that publicity and honor?

Maybe the people who care most do not help the needy for fame or glory. In a culture that worships the rich and famous for being filmed while doing stupid things, it is policemen, doctors, nurses, teachers, firemen and human rights workers who bring balance and order to abject dysfunction.

What sets these workers apart is their willingness to contribute on a daily basis to make the world a little safer, fairer, healthier and more educated. Far from a media holiday and a chance to show off in front of their friends, they see service as a civic obligation. Not a want, but a must.

Leah Zazofsky

Sources: ALS Association, Bluefield Daily Telegraph, TIME, World Vision
Photo: NBC News

30_hour_famine
Contrary to popular belief, congressional leaders are only part of the key influence in making poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy. Even though the 535 members of Congress in Washington D.C. representing voters are directly responsible for supporting or rejecting an issue or bill based on the voters’ opinions, all citizens are just as important in this process. Not only can they make their opinions known to the three members of Congress who represent them, but everyone, regardless of age, can make a difference by raising awareness in their community of a specific issue in order to bring about change.

This is exactly what a group of seven teenagers proved when they fasted for 30 hours to raise money that would benefit the fight against world poverty. These members of the Allin Church Youth Group in Dedham, Mass. participated in the World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine from 12 p.m. on April 26 to 6 p.m. on April 27. It was during those 30 hours that these teenagers not only fasted, but also learned more about world hunger as they felt the hunger that millions experience every day.

Participating members of the Dedham community donated at least $1 to this youth group for every hour that they fasted, and all contributions were used to benefit the lives of children in the Philippines in association with World Vision. World Vision is a Christian organization working in nearly 100 countries to address the issues of poverty and injustice. According to 30 Hour Famine, hundreds of thousands of people participate in this event every year in the U.S. alone, and thousands more across the globe do the same to help feed poor children and their families in developing countries.

World Vision’s 30 Hour Famine provides people with the opportunity to understand the hunger that millions experience every day of their lives. According to World Vision, 870 million people are hungry worldwide, revealing that this injustice needs to be resolved. But the 30 Hour Famine is not the only thing World Vision does to address this issue. This organization also provides individuals the opportunity to sponsor a child to not only fight poverty, but to create a better world for that child.

This experience for the Allin Church Youth Group did not end after the 30 hours were up. These seven teenagers, along with the entire Allin Congregational Church, will have the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and personally assist the children there who benefited from their 30-hour fast. This inspirational group of teenagers proves that anyone, regardless of age or political standing, can join in the fight against poverty and hunger.

— Meghan Orner

Sources: 30 Hour Famine, World Vision, The Dedham Transcript
Photo: Delphi United Church

30HourFamine09-1
This April 26-27 is the 30 Hour Famine weekend, and thousands of teenagers across America will go hungry to support children across the world as part of World Vision’s fundraiser. World Vision is a leading Christian ministry serving people in nearly 100 countries, and the funds from the famine go to areas of the globe that need the money the most.

QUICK FACTS:

+ about 112,000 teenagers will choose to fast for 30 hours in the pursuit of learning about hunger and making a real-life difference in the lives of hungry children around the world.

+ Just over 3,000 Famine groups will participate.

+ Millions of dollars will be raised. Remember: $1 feeds a child for a day and $30 feeds a child for a month; compounded, $360 feeds a child for a year.

As a result of this weekend alone (not the whole year), approximately:

+ 11,667 otherwise hungry children will be fed for an entire year.

+ Or, 140,000 hungry children will be fed for a month.

Not only does the famine raise money for the poor across the globe, it teaches young adults about how those people live each and every day and raises awareness of global hunger and world poverty. By participating in the famine, teenagers learn how to advocate and make a difference in the lives of others.

Katie Brockman

Source: World Vision

30-Hour-Famine-Campaign-in-Kaohsiung
From February 2nd to 3rd, over 50,000 Taiwanese attended the 30-hour famine campaign in Kaohsiung (a province of Taiwan). This was part of a larger 30-hour famine campaign, the 30 Hour Famine Hero Rally, run by “World Vision Taiwan.” It was the 24th year of this campaign, and it has been growing in strength as the years have passed.

World Vision Taiwan is part of World Vision: 30 Hour Famine, a global campaign to raise awareness of world hunger. The 30-hour famine is a worldwide experience that students, as well as anyone else, take part in once a year.

Participants gathered together and did not eat solid food for 30 hours, in order to experience what it feels like to live in poverty with scarce or no food. The 30-hour famine campaign in Kaohsiung, just like all of the 30-hour famine campaigns, had two parts: raising awareness about world hunger and fundraising for the hungry.

In the past twenty years, the 30-hour famine campaign in Kaohsiung is one event that has helped lower world hunger. The rate of hungry children has dropped by 50%. The goal of this rally was to raise $13.5 million U.S. dollars to help eradicate poverty and hunger not only in Taiwan but worldwide.

The donations do far more in disaster areas than they ever could do in countries like the United States. World Vision uses the donations to feed children and families in high-risk areas, but also teaches them how to overcome hunger on their own, and provides them with the proper tools to do it. Anyone can take part in a 30-hour famine, or host their own.

Visit the 30 Hour Famine website to learn how to host your own fasting event for the sake of world hunger.

– Corina Balsamo

Sources: Gospel Herald, World Vision Taiwan
Photo: Want China Times