A Travellerspoint blog

December 2009

What is Hunger?

Food for thought...

semi-overcast 28 °C

'Television images haunt us. Stunted, bony bodies. Long lines waiting for a meager bowl of gruel. This is famine hunger in its acute form, the kind no one could miss.

But hunger comes in another form. It is the day- in- day - out hunger that almost 800 million people suffer. While chronic hunger doesn't make the evening news, it takes more lives than famine. Every day this largely invisible hunger, and its related preventable diseases, kill as many as thirty- four thousand children under the age of five. That's 12 million children per year.
...Statistics like this are staggering. They shock and alarm.. however, we begin to doubt the usefulness of such numbers. Numbers can numb. They can distance us from what is actually very close to us. So we asked ourselves, what is really hunger?
Is it the gnawing pain in our stomach when we miss a meal? The listless stare of a dying child in the television hunger appeal? Yes, but it is more. What would it mean to think of hunger in terms of universal human emotions, feelings that all of us have experienced at some time in our lives?...
Anguish of impossible choices: the choice of a house being repossessed if the mortgage is not paid.
Grief- being hungry means watching people you love die.
Humiliation , the poor are made to blame themselves for their poverty.
Increasingly, throughout the world, hunger has a fourth dimension, fear.

Anguish, grief, humiliation, and fear. What if we refused to count the hungry and instead tried to understand hunger in terms of such universal emotions.

We discovered that how we understand hunger determines what we think are its solutions. If we think of hunger only as numbers- numbers of people with too few calories- the solution also appears to us in numbers- numbers of tons of food aid, or numbers of dollars in economic assistance. But once we understand hunger as real people coping with the most painful of human emotions, we can perceive its roots. We need only ask, when have we experienced any of these emotions ourselves? Hasn't it been when we have felt out of control in our lives- powerless to protect ourselves and those we love?
Hunger has thus become for us the ultimate symbol of powerlessness.'

adapted from
World Hunger- Twelve Myths
Frances Moore Lappe

Posted by africraigs 17:03 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

Barefoot Farming

sunny 28 °C

Hello from the annual ECHO conference! I'm writing this hiding in the room in between seminars whilst extrovert David is downstairs 'networking' with more delegates here. It has been a very intense few days, from packing and cleaning the 'west Africa' house and saying goodbye to the farm, to arriving at the conference and being double booked with rooms... and barging into the room of the middle aged board member, Tom (whom we went to the Preserve with on Sunday).

There is much 'food for thought' in the seminars and workshops, all in some way involved in a Christian response to hunger. There are many different nationalities here, different ages, different backgrounds and personalities, so we have met lots of interesting people. We met a radical twenty- something year old Christian, Noah, who (ironically?) lives on a boat and has made a 'lifestyle choice' of bare feet. His favourite word seems to be 'paradigm'- he has used it in every conversation and twice in the blurb about himself. Then there are a number of professors and super academic people with degrees and experience coming out of their ears, and development workers, our ECHO intern friends, and lots of others we haven't yet met.
Who built the ark?

Who built the ark?

We were chatting to a man this evening who works in Swaziland with an AIDS orphan project that he and his wife set up. He was a very interesting man with lots of stories, including finding a newborn baby in a plastic bag on their doorstep.
My head is spinning with agricultural development buzzwords and the enormous amount of information we have been given in the last few days. Today I went to a workshop in how to make 'Artemisia tea': a natural medicine grown from a plant, artemisia, and cures Malaria. The man who ran the seminar had worked in Ethiopia using natural medicines with the community. I hadn't really given natural medicines much thought before, but when I do think about it, it makes so much sense to use what is already there rather than import 'modern drugs' which contain the same plant extracts along with a heap of chemicals. The tea was pretty grim to drink to be honest, but I guess the saying 'no pain, no gain' is true in this case.

Nice Cuppa?

Nice Cuppa?


DSC_2053

DSC_2053


It is inspiring to be around so many outward looking, passionate people, and hearing about the range of needs in various countries and has definitely re- kindled the excitement to work overseas.

Posted by africraigs 20:18 Comments (0)

Tractor Pull and Preserve

(More American experiences)

overcast

Hello! We're sad to be spending our last night in the 'West Africa' house here on the ECHO campus before we head off to the ECHO conference tomorrow :-( Our week has been varied and interesting (apart from looking up Latin names for plants to make signs) with the added excitement of heavy rain and storms. Florida has the highest number of deaths due to lightning so we weren't allowed to work outside when the storm came. The unexpected rain caused mixed responses, I was sad to see that the beans I had planted earlier in the week in the 'Lowland' area were probably all flooded and dead. It gives a glimpse to the enormous frustration and disappointment that farmers around the world face on a regular basis. When we were looking at the flooded 'Lowlands' I was so scared that what I thought was a black pipe for water irrigation was actually a black water snake wriggling towards me.

Watch out of for the snake

Watch out of for the snake


Wet, muddy Dave

Wet, muddy Dave

We had part 2 of 'Urine as a Fertiliser' which was very interesting, we heard about the interns' trial- and found out which crops grew better with the urine rather than the normal soluble fertiliser. There was even a 'taste test' of the plants which had been fertilised with urine. Mmmm.

The rain has meant it has been even more muddy than usual, which added extra entertainment to last night's trip to a 'Tractor Pull'[i] contest. DSC_2078

DSC_2078

Watching the nail biting tractor pull contest

Watching the nail biting tractor pull contest


This is a seemingly typical southern American 'redneck' hobby where massive 4 wheel drives are modified and subbed up to pull a tractor and various heavy weights through the mud. As the evening went on, the cars got louder and increasingly ridiculous. DSC_2074

DSC_2074

DSC_2072

DSC_2072

We looked around the 'Appropriate Technology' department this week which was interesting, especially hearing the statistics for deaths due to dirty water and seeing the various approaches and stages to purifying water. David was delighted to see a biosand filter and kept talking about his time at Equip... so much so, that the intern in charge of appropriate technology: Joseph Longenecker might go to the Equip training in April and start a link with ECHO and Equip.Alternative Technology

Alternative Technology

We went back to the 'Next Level' church today with 2 slightly older men, David and Tom, who are at ECHO for the annual board meeting. I wasn't sure if they would enjoy it, or if it would be their 'style' but they seemed to get stuck in and found it great. Not only did we enjoy the service and the worship and sermon, but... we also got our '2nd time gift'... a coffee cup.

2nd timers...

2nd timers...


The Next Level

The Next Level

After church we went around a nature preserve (same as what the British would call a 'reserve') with the board members, Tom and David. David is a lecturer in Ecology and Biology and knows so much about all the plants and animals and birds, so it was like have a personal tour guide as we walked around the preserve. We spotted an alligator snoozing on a raft, and various birds. David and Tom were both fascinating guys with a wealth of experience and stories- including being able to impersonate a baby alligator. At the 'Slough Preserve' with Tom and David

At the 'Slough Preserve' with Tom and David

I'm sure there are many other stories to share from the week, but we need to head over to the interns house to practice music for the approaching ECHO conference. David is playing the bongos. The conference looks as though it is an intense event, starting at 6.30am and finishing at 9.30 pm, with 300 guests, 3 workshops each day and several key speakers. I have noticed a workshop on 'soap making' which looks good.

Until next time...Cheese.

Cheese.

xx

Posted by africraigs 14:04 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Next Level and bagpipes

sunny 27 °C

Hi! On Monday,we had a busy morning in the roof top area of ECHO, where there all sorts of clever uses of space and creative, resourceful thinking to grow food in unlikely places (e.g. in a tyre, on an old carpet, on top of a chicken pen etc.)
Planting in Tyres

Planting in Tyres

Urban Garden: growing plants in limited space

Urban Garden: growing plants in limited space

Kim showing how to use the 'tippy tap'

Kim showing how to use the 'tippy tap'

How to be humble: cleaning out the chicken coop manure

How to be humble: cleaning out the chicken coop manure

We had another interesting day of churches on Sunday. We went to 'The Next Level Church' which we were slightly wary and curious about due to the name- (which sounds slightly like a computer game or a cult). We both really enjoyed it, the music was like a rock band, the preacher was very funny, and the church seemed really outward looking and had a pioneering attitude and expectancy for great things. They are running a 5 week 'serving' programme in the community, all different outreach activities which is going really well. It's been interesting going round different churches and seeing how they operate. One amusing part of 'The Next Level' was the dedicated parking for '1st, 2nd and 3rd time visitors' to the church. And the incremental value to the gifts (first week a book and pen, second week a travellers mug and then the third week a $10 voucher for Starbucks)! Man, I wish we were here longer...

One of the interns had heard about another church who were having a special Scottish advent service in the evening, and thought we might like to go along. David proudly wore his kilt and we walked in. Yep, I did, and I was defintely not the one that needed to have any shame. The pastor of the church was standing up at the pulpit wearing a kilt and jacket and a Bonnie Prince Charlie cap. He looked hilarious. A lot of the congregation were wearing plaid clothing for the occassion. The most incredible point was when a battalion of pipers (the Florida Lee County Pipe Band) stood up and holding the saltire aloft, marched out to "Scotland the Brave"! Wow, this country is crazy, but I like it! Why can't we be so proud of our own heritage?
I spoke to the pastor after the special "Hanging of the Greens" ceremony who told me that various Presbetyrian churches like to celebrate their Scottish heritage by having a Scottish theme sometime during the year. Judging by his name I guessed that he was of German ancestry and he confirmed that, so it was even more incredible that he was willing to wear a kilt.
Crazy America: German Pastor dresses up in full regalia for Scottish service

Crazy America: German Pastor dresses up in full regalia for Scottish service

ECHO interns and me eating cookies at the Hanging of the Greens ceremony

ECHO interns and me eating cookies at the Hanging of the Greens ceremony

Kilted Piper and Me eating cookies together. He had never been outside the USA

Kilted Piper and Me eating cookies together. He had never been outside the USA

Meeting the pastor in his kilt

Meeting the pastor in his kilt

Posted by africraigs 20:02 Comments (0)

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