Investing in Tomorrow: Florence and the Machine

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In Kenya, economic empowerment can have many faces. For some, it looks like corn stalks growing tall around their house.

That’s how it is for Nelly, the 10-year-old girl we’ve been following with 30 Hour Famine, and her family. By growing healthier and more productive plants, they are able to begin to live #hungerfree.

Today’s average Kenyan farmer is 60 years old. But Kenya is getting younger, and more than half the population is under the age of 25. Those young people are often unemployed, and yet agricultural jobs go unattended. Farming doesn’t seem sustainable…or cool.

HungerFree is coming alongside young people to use methods of empowerment that have been proven to work. It’s the same model World Vision uses with other small farmers, and makes sure that young people have small business. Why? Because then they can grow food for their families and develop an income they can count on.

Not that far from Nelly lives a young woman named Florence, who is a perfect example of what HungerFree helps young people accomplish.

With 14 mouths to feed among her extended family, Florence could be under a lot of pressure. But through HungerFree, she participates in a farming group using new technology to maximize the quality of corn. Food for today is taken care of.

And the food for tomorrow? That’s taken care of with one small asset: a sewing machine. Florence can make her own clothes and sell them for a profit, ensuring that she has enough to provide economic stability.

Facing the Unexpected: What Happens when your plans get shattered?

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Johnny was the star pitcher on his high school baseball team. He was on-track to go to college on a scholarship and had plans to get drafted after sophomore year. But during his last year, a shoulder injury forced him to quit playing. All the plans he had made were suddenly ruined.

You’ve probably heard some variation of that story before. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s a friend. Either way, it’s something that we can all relate to: having to adapt when our plans get shattered.

In Africa, plans for a future are getting drowned by a weather phenomenon called El Niño. It is essentially big shifts in weather patterns across the world due to the extensive warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

El Niño is causing circumstances to change dramatically all over the world, and is just one example of what can happen when the unexpected occurs in food insecure places.

The weather system is manifested in two opposite extremes in Africa – either too much rain or extreme drought. In Kenya, where drought has been drying the earth for years, the sudden onslaught of rain is causing flooding; the rain can’t soak through the clay-like earth.

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That means ruined crops and dying livestock. And each of those means hunger.

Those who are already vulnerable may not have the mechanisms in place to cope with natural, man-made or economic disaster. Instead, families try to cope with their loss of livelihood by having their children drop out of school, depleting their assets, or reducing meal quantity and quality.

HungerFree wants to present an alternative coping mechanism by helping communities in Kenya and South Sudan develop strategies for resilience. Not only does your support through 30 Hour Famine provide food for today, it also helps those who are being flooded by the unexpected.

How, you ask?

Programs already in place make sure that families have back-up resources. Savings groups allow struggling families to take out protected loans from their neighbors. And new farming techniques help crops stay a little bit more protected.

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So now, in the worst El Niño on record, families are able to have a little bit of a safety net. Now, they don’t have to become statistics in a humanitarian crisis.

Through 30 Hour Famine, you can make sure that stays true for a lifetime. This isn’t the first time disaster has struck, and it certainly won’t be the last. But we dare to see beauty and brokenness. We dare to see a world that grow, not diminish, in the face of disaster. What about you?

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Investing in Tomorrow: A Stroke of Cluck Can Change a Life

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Kenya is getting younger and younger. Over half the population is under the age of 25, and many of them are unable to get sustainable employment. That means more stress and less food.

But many young people don’t see agriculture as the best way to a hungerfree life. The average farmer is 60 years old. But what if that farming – which makes sure there’s food enough for today – was combined with a small business?

For Nelly, the girl we’ve been following as we get ready for the 30 Hour Famine, a hungerfree life looks like farming combined with raising goats.

For Erastus, another young Kenyan, economic empowerment comes with a stroke of cluck.

 
Erastus is the sole caregiver for his brothers and sisters. Crammed in a small house, the family often found themselves going to sleep hungry (and waking up even hungrier).

But since getting chickens, Erastus can not only feed his siblings, he can also plan for a future. Soon, he hopes to build a house that will fit his family.

A HungerFree world doesn’t just involve food. It also takes community, young people, and empowerment. With economic stability – and chickens – dreaming for the future becomes possible.

Keep pushing for a #HungerFree world – http://famine.ca

Becoming Hungerfree

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If you were to stand at the edge of Nelly’s family’s fields, you would see earth that looked a lot like a checkerboard. Every few feet there is a rectangle where the ground is a little lower.

The checkerboard is actually zai pits, a farming technique that involves mixing the dirt with fertilizer and leaving the pits several inches lower than the earth around them. This allows water to accumulate to better grow crops like kale and corn.

Nelly’s family lives in rural Kenya. When Nelly’s mother was young, crops were easier to grow; farmers could confidently know the rains would come. But they were also harder to farm. Digging the earth took more work and yield was small.

Now, rains are intermittent and unpredictable. But with zai pits, it’s easier to be sure that food will grow. In fact, the technique has doubled the crop production for the community.

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HungerFree is helping families generate food for today and tomorrow through programming commonly referred to as Cash for Assets. Farming techniques – like zai pits – allow families to more efficiently grow food to both eat and sell, ensuring resilience during periods of drought.

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And farming isn’t the only way Nelly’s family has more economic stability. They also help care for their community’s goats, and Nelly’s mother participates in a savings and loan group with their neighbors.

One of the challenges of food assistance is the balancing act between immediate assistance and long-term stability. Often, hungry communities urgently need food to be able to continue learning and farming. But they also need the tools to continue to support themselves.

By participating in 30 Hour famine, you are helping families just like Nelly’s grow not only corn, but also sustainability.

But we’re not called to help create a hungerfree family. We are called to help create a hungerfree world. Nelly’s story is just the beginning.

This is the time to accomplish great things. Are you on board?

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The Only Thing That’s Missing Is You

Mother Teresa once said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

Two weeks ago I saw firsthand the effects of many young and passionate youth coming together to cast stones for a better world.

World Vision hosted a Justice Lab in Edmonton, and for the first time I saw the power of community. Having twenty-five passionate young leaders in the same room created an atmosphere of action and change. We addressed global issues such as education, child protection, water and hunger. However the room really came alive when we started talking about global hunger. Suddenly we were all bouncing ideas off of each other of what we could do in our communities to start making a difference. Our advocacy immediately turned into action. Ideas of contacting local grocery stores to harvest the food they don’t use and starting food trucks where proceeds would go to where extreme hunger is present in the world began to fill the air. I had to take a moment and step back in awe at what I was seeing.

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Justice Lab was entirely based off of the idea of “what would happen if you brought together a community of young people who were passionate about social justice?” When we gathered together in Edmonton on February 20th the answer to that question was change. Real global change was igniting our conversation like wild fire. Why? Because extreme hunger is not acceptable and this group of students recognized it and knew they had the power to make a difference. And so do you.

Right now people from all over the world, not just Edmonton, are joining the fight to end extreme hunger. HungerFree is a global movement that believes a hunger free world is possible. There is enough food and resources on the planet to feed everyone. The only thing that’s missing is you.

Join the fight to end this injustice and be a part of the solution to seeing a hunger free world. Organizing a 30 Hour Famine event is great to experience the daily struggle of someone who experiences extreme hunger as well as creating your own community of world changers.

We can’t change the world alone, but we can cast a stone to create many ripples of change.

ON TOUR FOR A HUNGERFREE WORLD

Sean and Karli Quigley believe in music of hope, so it just made sense to partner with HungerFree. The duo, which hails from Winnepeg, Manitoba in Canada, fronts band Bold As Lions. And this February they’re going on a HungerFree tour.

HungerFree sat down with Sean and Karli to learn more.

HungerFree: Why are you dedicating your tour to HungerFree?

Bold As Lions: We believe in this. From the beginning we’ve always said that we want to make music that means something. When we’re in the studio, writing, every single word is thought out and has an important purpose in the song. What good is having a platform if you don’t use it for something productive, if you don’t use it to better someone else’s reality? That is why we’re donating our time and dedicating this tour to HungerFree. This is something we stand for as a band. When people think Bold As Lions we want them to think HungerFree. We want people to know that its cool to care. And here’s a great place to start.

HF: How did you first get connected with World Vision?

BAL: When the Little Drummer boy music video came out, it gained attention over night. One day I [Sean] was driving down Broadway in Winnipeg and I got a phone call from someone asking me if I wanted to travel across the world to play music…all of this before he even told me who he was! It turns out his name is Devon and he worked for World Vision. 3 weeks later I ended up in a couple countries called Georgia and Armenia that border Iran. From that point on, we’ve been working with World Vision with the artist Collective, but mostly with the youth team. Speaking or playing music in schools and churches on behalf of World Vision and our passion to see a better world.


HF: What of the HungerFree message and approach inspires you most?

BAL: We love the idea of branding it as HungerFree. It’s an idea that students can get behind. Hunger Free sounds positive; it sounds possible! The model that World Vision has laid out is probably one of our favourite things about it. The way they will stay in one community until they are totally self-sufficient and then move on to the next – it’s a legit way to end hunger. It’s an ACTUAL solution and it isn’t that far off. Whenever we talk to people about this, their reaction is always my favourite because they seem so surprised that it’s so thought out and you can see skeptics thinking up a storm about how this just might work.

HF: What has been the response to working with World Vision and HungerFree so far?

BAL: Working with HungerFree so far has had such a great response; it’s becoming a term people are using just by seeing it continually branded as the HungerFree tour on our social media. Schools have been excited about getting involved. Currently we have a 20 school reach in the month of February and still more requests and responses coming in. Unfortunately for some dates, multiple people have wanted to book a spot on the tour and we’ve had to turn them away, which is a good problem to have!

HF: What advice do you have for young people who are interested in connecting their passion and talents to making a difference in the world?

BAL: This is something I really feel makes all the difference. If you aren’t passionate about something, you aren’t going to put everything into it. The things you do with your time, life, and resources really show where your heart is. For us, because we are passionate about music, doing this tour – putting in hundred of hours, late nights, little sleep, doing all the booking, editing, writing, speaking, producing, programming – makes it all worth it. It doesn’t seem like work because we love it.

Some advice that we would give young people who are interested in doing this? What do you love? Start there. Start with your passion and then pick a cause that you care about. When those two things mix, you have to succeed. So you love to snowboard? Enter every snowboard competition and donate the winnings. You love math? Have a mathlete competition and donate the funds! Trust me, any time you put yourself second to someone else, people think its weird and want to hear about it. It doesn’t take too much selflessness to start spreading awareness.


TAKE PART IN CREATING A HUNGERFREE WORLD TOGETHER THROUGH

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Youth Interview: Speaking Up

World Vision Youth are amazing individuals who are constantly pushing themselves further in efforts to becoming more passionate activists for social change. Check out this interview with Jennifer, one of our amazing youth, who is on the road to becoming an amazing speaker!

Why are you passionate about child labour/child trafficking/ child rights?

I am really passionate about bringing awareness to the people in society who are oppressed and vulnerable. I really see children living in poverty and slavery as some of the most vulnerable in society, especially girls. The reality that these kids face every day is unimaginable. Despite their circumstances, I believe that they carry unbelievable potential. I think that given the right tools and the right opportunities, they can rise up and shape the world for the better.

Why NO CHILD FOR SALE?

The “No Child For Sale” campaign has been incredible in helping to equip and motivate me to raise awareness about this issue of child slavery. The videos, graphics, and information that are available online have been incredible resources for me while I’ve been preparing to speak. The work that World Vision has put behind the campaign is amazing, and I felt like the tools that are available would really help to enhance my presentations.

What motivated or inspired the idea to speak at local churches?

Honestly, I didn’t have any plans to start speaking in churches! Initially, it started as a one-time deal at my home church. My pastor expressed interest in holding a ‘No Child for Sale Sunday’, and knew I was passionate about social justice, so he asked if I would be interested in speaking. In preparing to speak, I did a lot of research, and I actually became very passionate about the issue. After that presentation, I was asked to speak to youth leaders at an upcoming youth camp, and then another pastor asked me to speak at his church on a Sunday morning. The opportunities that have opened up have been incredible, and the local churches have helped me to get my message out to so many people.

What have your speaking experiences been like?

My speaking experiences have been amazing! It has been such a gift to be able to share my passions with people from across the province. The presentations have been well received by the audiences, and it has helped to spark some interesting conversations with people who may have never even heard of child slavery before.

How do you prepare? Or is it a heart speech?

I definitely make sure that I am prepared before speaking. I practice several times before speaking, and I usually have an outline of a script with me when I speak. By being as comfortable with the topic as possible, it helps me to be more confident when I speak. I also love using Prezi in my presentations. I find it adds a visual element to the presentation, and helps to keep the audience engaged. However, I try not to limit myself to the script. I try to let my heart and passion for the issues show, and I find that those are the moments that I am able to really connect with the audience.

Do you ever get nervous to stand and speak? How do you move past the fears if any?

I definitely get nervous from time to time. I am a true introvert at heart, so public speaking is something that has never come easily for me. Here are the three best ways that I try to move beyond the nerves, so I can be as comfortable as possible when I speak:
1. Be Prepared. I try to know my topic as well as I can, and I go in knowing exactly what I want to communicate to the audience. If I’m prepared and familiar with my topic, the speech comes across as more coherent and confident.
2. Get Excited. Whenever I am given the opportunity to speak to a group of people, I always see it as a huge blessing. That is my opportunity to show others my passion, and to try to get them passionate as well! I find that just by thinking about how exciting the opportunity is, the nerves go away.
3. Pray. I pray both while I am preparing to speak, and right before I speak. I pray for confidence, and I pray that my message will be well received by the audience. This keeps me focused and grounded, and it helps me to push beyond any fears or doubts I may have.

What has been your best moment so far in all this?

I have had several amazing moments after my presentations while I am talking to people from the audience. I love hearing their feedback, and listening to how inspired, or excited they are to start making a difference. I also get so inspired by people who tell me about things that they are already doing in their daily lives (child sponsorships, buying fair trade, etc.) to make a difference. These are definitely the best moments for me.

What has surprised you the most so far?

It has surprised me how unaware most people are about child slavery. At the same time, it surprises me how receptive people are to the presentation, and how eager most people are to find ways to make a difference.

What encouragement do you have for youth and students who want to follow your example?

I encourage any students who feels passionately about any social justice issue, to start finding opportunities to share that passion. Start by sharing in school, at church, or during community events, and you may be surprised what other opportunities open up after that!

It is also important not to back away from opportunities when they present themselves, no matter how insignificant they may seem. There have been several times that I almost declined speaking engagements, and little did I know how many other doors would open because of that one presentation. Each door that opens will bring new connections and new lessons. You never know where your willingness to seize an opportunity will take you.

What is next for Jennifer Brenton on this journey of justice?

I hope to be able to continue to speak and to keep bringing awareness to child slavery and other social justice issues. I’m currently planning to do some more speaking in the New Year, including speaking at the Imagine Next Gen Leadership Conference here in Newfoundland in April.

I’d also like do some work with World Vision’s Girl Rising campaign. Education for girls is another issue that I am super passionate about, and now that I have some speaking experience, I’d like to be able share this issue with others as well.

Compassion Knows No Bounds

Written by: Miranda, Youth Ambassador
If you had told me that I would be shaving my head when I first received the email inviting me to apply to become a Youth Ambassador with World Vision, I would’ve laughed in your face.

As I was writing my application I was thinking about where I was in my life at that point, and the goals I had for the future. I had just gone on the first two trips of my life, first to Mexicalli, Mexico to build a church and Sunday school with my youth group, and then to Spain and France with my school. I had a desire to not only see the world, but also change the world. I wanted to impact individuals beyond my close family and friends, and broaden my world-views in the process. So when World Vision’s Youth Ambassador Program stumbled into my inbox, I leaped at the opportunity.

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Prior to that point, I had participated in the 30 Hour Famine several times, but knew nothing of World Vision beyond that. By the time I found out I had been accepted into the program, I was still fairly blind to the initiatives World Vision participated in, outside of knowing they aligned somewhat with my desire to see a change in the world.

Two months into the program, I was still struggling to not only come up with an impact project, a task assigned to us with the purpose of having every YA create a difference, but also to find my voice in a group of amazing individuals. I’m not overly shy, but compared to some of the YA’s I met, I felt meek. The YA’s I met throughout the program are nothing if not some of the most intelligent, driven and compassionate individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, and one thing is for sure, they drove me to try to be remarkable myself, even if it was just to keep up with all of the differences they were making in the world.

By the time the impact project proposals were due, I still wasn’t really sure what direction I was heading in. However, the issue of human trafficking had really caught my attention, and tugged at my heart. As the eldest of three younger sisters, the prospect of any young individual being sold and valued for only their body horrified me. The only problem was I wasn’t entirely sure how I could make a change with so little resources available as a youth.

I decided to shave my head because I wanted to show people that you could make a difference no matter what kind of resources you have, as well as make a statement about what human trafficking victims struggle with. The symbolism behind shaving my head was really about the contrast between Canadian culture and that of Bangladesh. Here in Canada, I have continued to be a contributing member of society even after I’ve shaved my head, because I’m valued for so much more than my body, but for human trafficking victims in Bangladesh, they are told they don’t have a worth outside of their body.

Shaving my head was a nerve-wracking experience, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any other way. I felt a lot of doubt and hesitation leading up to the experience. It was difficult to lose a part of me that defined who I was so much as a person, and I will admit that I struggled a lot with my perception of myself afterwards. However, I value these struggles as much as I value the good that came out of the campaign. The fact that I’ve struggled with my self-esteem following shaving my head reflects the society we live in, and the kind of problems that aren’t only huge issues in human trafficking, but in my everyday life. Why is it that something so non-permanent and unreflective of my personality plays such a huge bearing on my self-perception? Why is it that shaving my head made such a huge statement with people, when my hair hardly reflects who I am at all?

I think that my journey with the Shave to Save campaign has opened my eyes to a lot of injustice in the world, but it has also given me hope that it can be changed. The fact that Fion and I raised over $6000 is still staggering to me, and proves to me that people truly do care. I may never even meet an individual who was truly impacted by my campaign, and neither will any of those who sponsored us, and that says a lot to me about the capacity of human compassion. The fact that two young women in Canada can fight for the rights of young women in Bangladesh is incredible to me, and it’s really taught me not to underestimate the capabilities of our generation to make a mark.

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It goes without saying that as much as Shave to Save changed the lives of those impacted by our sponsor’s generosity, it also changed mine in ways I would never have thought possible. It taught me that no human voice should be silenced. Every time an individual speaks up, a change is made, and a spark ignited. It taught me that human compassion knows no bounds, and as much as we can get caught up in our daily lives here in Canada – where we are blessed with freedoms that so many do not enjoy. There is no reason to ignore the capacity we have to spread equality and justice. Shave to Save taught me to not sit back and wait for change to happen, but to bring change into the lives of those around me. Shave to Save isn’t something that ends in me shaving my head, the real journey has just begun. My desire to change the world is only just being shaped, and I really can’t wait to see where the desire for change takes me next.

You can create your own fundraising campaign and start changing the lives of those around you. Click below to start your journey.

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