Friday, April 10, 2009

Unite for World Hunger & Hope

Through BlogCatalog, I have gotten involved with BloggersUnite. The campaign to catch my eye? The one for world hunger. I thought that I was aware of the problem, but this is what I learned in the first 5 minutes at BloggersUnite:

1 - That 500 million people live in absolute poverty.

I have a hard time grasping or visualizing the idea of 500 million people, but I had a harder time understanding what is meant by "absolute poverty." So, I looked it up. The best definition I could find was on Answers.com: Absolute poverty may be defined as an individual's inability to satisfy basic needs in food, clothing, shelter, and health.

And for those of us just trying to deal with a "downturn" in the economy in our daily lives, we have a hard time doing without what would be considered luxuries to others. To those living in absolute poverty, my whining about a slow internet connection or the fact that I can no longer go and get my nails done on a regular basis... Well, this kind of puts me in my place, doesn't it?

2- That in the U.S., 46% of black children and 49% of Latino children are considered chronically hungry. Those were the numbers from BloggersUnite's page. I went and checked out this site and got more disturbing numbers:
  • 16% of white children are chronically hungry
  • 1 of 8 kids under 12 years old go to bed hungry every night
  • 1 of 6 elderly have an inadequate diet
  • 12 million live in "food insecure" households
  • 2 million rural households experience "food insecurity"
  • 35 million Americans do not get enough food due to lack of resources.
Okay. But to many of us, those are just numbers that are a little hard to comprehend. So let's really look at numbers:

I don't know how to make anyone visualize numbers like 500 million, 12 million or 35 million, so I wondered what it would take to help understand even 1 million. I went over here to figure out how long it would take to just count to 1 million. The answer? Roughly, (figuring it takes 2 seconds per number) it would take 23 days to count to 1 million. 23 days just to count to 1 million!

And seeing how mind-boggling the numbers are, remember that we are not just talking about numbers, but about people going hungry. We are not talking about living, breathing humans just like us, just like our own babies, parents, siblings, friends and neighbors. People. Millions of hungry people.

Poverty. That's not easy for some of us to comprehend, is it? But think of this: as bad as things have ever been for me or for you. As hard as it is to pay our bills and keep up on rent and utilities and car notes, think about the people who are just struggling to have something to eat. Not "good" food, not fast food or fun food or meals-around-the-table food, but just any food to sustain themselves. Food to keep from starving.

Recently, I did a fast. Actually I did a couple of fasts. By choice. One of the things about hunger is just the physical. When I was fasting, I experienced cravings for and fantasies about food. Eventually I got a headache and went through a period of fatigue. But I was fasting by choice and knew that there was food available. Now that I'm involved in this campaign against hunger, I am realizing that there are all these millions of people who are hungry and have no hope of full relief. Imagine what that does to the soul. Can you imagine not knowing when are what you will eat next? Of if you will eat again? There are people who can. There are children who can.

Please, do whatever you can to help those who are hungry. If you can donate, do it. If you can spread the word, do that. If all you can do is pray, do that. Just please do something.

I don't have a lot of money. (Let me quit & be honest: I don't have much money at all these days!) I was wondering what I could do about this. I mean, it's one thing to show my support with a blog post, but if I'm asking you guys to do something, I feel like I need to do something more.

So. **taking a deep breath**

We all know about my nasty little habit of smoking cigarettes. And we also know about the taxes that have pushed the sticks to dang near $10 a pack. I'm broke & roll my own, but that's no longer the cheaper option. Anyway, what I am going to do is.... (and I'm saying it here where my friends, family & blog buddies can nag me about it) ... from now on, any money I would be spending on the nasty tobaccy, I will be donating that in some way to the hungry. If it means donating to one of our local food banks, okay. If it means donating to something online, all-righty. But I pledge now that will not spend any more money on smoking. (I am making a PLEDGE - which means that I am trying!)

This is big for me, people. This is SOOOOOO big for me. I hope that I can stick it out. Please pray for me if you believe in prayer (because I do), or just root for me if that suits you better. And I will be honest & let you know of any slip-ups I have.

Peace
--Free

3 comments:

  1. I live in a country where a high percentage (most) of the population is living under the poverty line (by the american standards, "poverty" is what we use to call "[upper] middle class" here). That sort of graphic images of children starving, being pested by flies, sick, which populates the screens of developed nations, I've witnessed in person. It is the reality around here (our minimum wage is about US$ 200/month, and lots of people who work regularly do even less). I'm not trying to pose myself as a poverty specialist or as a justice paladin, but I feel the obligation to express my (almost) insignificant opinion: world poverty, specially hunger, is a matter of politics, not money. Millions of people worldwide are stuck in a perpetual cycle of misery due to bloody dictatorships (Africa), opressive theocracy (Middle East) or populist goverments (China, Latin America). Banks of food and stuff are an american thing (a great idea indeed). So, although your concern about world hunger is an expression of love towards the other (love being the essence of God), I would, for now, keep the cigs ;) (anyway, as a smoker of american pipe tobbaco, the taxes have hit me too). As Jesus said (good smaritan parable), the people who needs you most are the ones who cross your path. The internet has widening your path as more people is crossing it right now (people like me).


    For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.

    Matthew 25:35,36


    Peace and joy.

    Free II

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  3. I don't even know how to express to you my sorrow at the situation that so many people live in everyday. Your comments gave me a whole different perspective on this issue & I would like to use them in my future post on the subject.

    Sadly, you are so right: this is not, at the heart, about money, but about attitudes and access. And the worst of it all is not how hunger is affecting the bodies of the suffering, but how it surely affects the soul.

    My challenge to myself is not just about the money I will be diverting from my cigarettes to the cause, but it's also about giving myself a strong reminder of the cause.

    If I never see my name on the cover of a book, I am so glad that I had the resources to write these posts for at least you to see. You do understand, I hope, that there are people who care & are trying to find a way around the problems of red tape and politics to help the PEOPLE behind the issue. It may seem not enough, but people do care.

    (The verse you quoted is one of my favorite. I've been hungry, thirsty, unclothed & imprisoned - not literally, but in my heart - as I've gone through recent problems. People like you, those who I've communicated with, were the one who nourished me, fed and visited me. I don't think I've said it before, but I thank you.)

    Peace
    --Free

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