I’m back! It’s taken a little while for me to get my thoughts back into sync and now I want to share my experience with you. I could tell you stories for days; it was a sensory overload in so many ways.
So, for those of you that aren’t familiar with The Hunger Project and the work they do; they work to break the cycle of poverty, believing that “hungry people themselves are the key to ending hunger”.
They work in the communities to help unleash their vision, commitment and leadership, arming them with the skills and knowledge to help them feed themselves and their families.
Our program lasted 8 days with 5 of those on the field. During our time we visited numerous epicentres, all at varying stages of their journey. We also met people from a village not yet associated with THP – it was a VERY different experience.
THP spend an entire 2 years working with villages on mindset change, this includes everyone in the communities and the village leaders. This is before anything else happens. Seems a lot I can hear you thinking. During this time the villagers learn to believe that they are the key to ending their own poverty; without this, the program would not succeed. From here, the villagers build their own epicentres, right down to making the very bricks they use, (some 700,000 bricks must be handmade to build the epicenter) it’s a remarkable process and further reinforcing a sense of importance and self worth they achieve.
Spending time with the different THP villages was an uplifting experience. It was so wonderful to hear them talk of excess food supplies they have stocked, HIV support groups and children’s education. It was clear to see how much progress THP has helped these people achieve. Taboos of old were no longer; people could speak freely about their health, women no longer had fear around childbirth, babies are being born in maternity wards rather than the roadside! 1 epicentre celebrated the birth of 50 babies a month, and not one birth related death in the past year.
The one village we visited that was not part of THP was a different ball game altogether. It devastated us to see the people so broken with empty eyes and so much sadness. Even the children were introverted and void of any emotion. Here, unlike the other villages, there was chronic malnutrition, no support and death all around. One woman that touched my heart so much was Christina, I felt such an affinity to her; a 38 year old and mother of 5 children, 4 of which had died at young ages. I could relate to her so much, we’re not so different; I was just born into a country of such great fortune and opportunity, she was not. I will never forget Christina or my time with her.
I could write for hours! But, in a nutshell, the trip was re-calibrating, life altering and confronting. I will never forget it and it makes me all the more determined to continue the work of The Hunger Project and put an end to poverty!