A Travellerspoint blog

USA

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)

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)

Very Thank-FULL

Thanksgiving and other highlights from the week

sunny 21 °C

Hi! We've had another busy week on the farm, transplanting tomatoes, turning compost, creating plant supports, milking the goat, weeding, mulching, and of course, eating...
DSC_1979

DSC_1979

Temperature of Crystal's compost

Temperature of Crystal's compost

The poor, hungry interns...

The poor, hungry interns...

Thanksgiving meal

Thanksgiving meal

Quite the feast

Quite the feast

ECHO had Thursday and Friday off as holidays so all the staff and interns got together for a feast and games outside for Thanksgiving on Thursday. Everyone brought something for the meal, David made Roselle tea and lemonade which went down a treat. There was something really special about seeing much of the harvest fresh from the farm as part of the meal. Americans certainly know how to make a meal out of an event! We went to a park yesterday for the daughter of one of the interns, who was celebrating her fourth birthday. Another lovely event with games and food, there seems to be a strong sense of family here, and people have been so welcoming to us. Le Boule

Le Boule

Another highlight was the visit by our roaming Nomadic missionary friend, Graeme, a Tasmanian guy who divides his time between Papua New Guinea, Romania, and visiting Romanians around the world. It was a visit similar to an espresso, short and intense, lots of deeper issues discussed, and we picked his brains on various questions we had about next year. The roaming missionary, Graeme

The roaming missionary, Graeme

Graeme and David

Graeme and David

We enjoyed going to a bonfire at some people's home last night, they had 3 crazy fluffy dogs who could jump really high on their hind legs, and the daughter, Candy, dresses them up in dog t- shirts etc. We went to see Fantastic Mr Fox this week with some of the interns, which was entertaining and well worth seeing! David is currently at the library, making up for lost time and I need to continue with En Route studies... Au Revoir! PS... it seems fitting for a blog about Thanksgiving to verbalise how very thankful we are for the friends and family who have supported us in so many ways, and to our God, who gives all good things. :-) DSC_1971

DSC_1971

DSC_1961

DSC_1961

Posted by africraigs 07:28 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

To pee or not to pee?

(And other issues related to soil fertility)

sunny 28 °C

DSC_1915

DSC_1915

DSC_1903

DSC_1903


HI! I can't believe we've only been here a week. We've been really busy on the farm and feel settled here. We've got into a routine of shadowing the interns in their various 'zones' in the mornings and studying/ having seminars etc in the afternoons. One particularly interesting seminar this week was led by an intern, Andrew, discussing urine as a fertiliser for soil. (Apparently it is very effective as long as it is diluted.) He has been working with another intern on a trial, and had a big plastic bottle of urine on the desk throughout the seminar.
We have been involved in various tasks, including making an enormous compost heap with an intern in the 'mountain' area, going on a wild goose chase (well, ducks) in the 'rainforest', trying to coax the ducks into their new home in the pond, and plenty of weeding.

One intern, Sherril, the animal lover...

One intern, Sherril, the animal lover...


DSC_1855

DSC_1855

Weeding

Weeding

Spot the difference between the hair and hay stack (clue... there is no difference)

Spot the difference between the hair and hay stack (clue... there is no difference)

Crystal's mammoth compost heap

Crystal's mammoth compost heap

The ducks' house needed to be moved near the pond, which was a team effort, and involved plenty of 'good job's' being said. We've noticed how readily the American give praise and encouragement here, which has been amusing. Compliments such as 'hey, neat compost pile' and 'great job fertilising' fly around, creating a super positive work ethos!

Trying to figure out how to move the ducks' house

Trying to figure out how to move the ducks' house

Lifting the ducks' house

Lifting the ducks' house

David received an email from Roger (from REAP) with specific plants & techniques to study whilst he's here, which has helped him feel a bit more focused and a little less overwhelmed.
Once again, my En Route course has been relevant this week, all about Christian development work and poverty, which has tied in really well with the work that ECHO promotes.
David organised a trip tonight to see an ice hockey game between Florida Everblades and the Reading Royals (not my home team...) The Florida Everblades

The Florida Everblades

After the Ice Hockey match

After the Ice Hockey match

It was an interesting experience, although strange to see all the Everblades 'fans' traipse out 5 minutes before the end of the game as their team were losing. I guess the 'good job!' culture of support and encouragement isn't everywhere in the States....

Posted by africraigs 21:30 Archived in USA Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

Getting my goat

sunny 26 °C

Sunflower

Sunflower

Had a fairly relaxing weekend trying to find our feet here and get to know the interns and staff. We went to a nearby church yesterday and were very warmly welcomed, and were given the ultimate cheesy 'first timer gift' bag- with a rainbow and 'Smile, God loves you!' emblazed across. Again, though, we were incredibly blessed and encouraged by the warmth and generosity in the States as an older couple took us out for dinner at "Sweet Tomatoes" and then showed us Fort Myers in their car. Their son, we heard, is an alligator trapper! I can't believe how measly the pay is for such a dangerous job (about $25 per alligator). We are both perpetually afraid of being attacked from any bushes by a wild and hungry alligator...
Planting agussi melon

Planting agussi melon


We had a strange start to the day on Monday, being once again slightly baffled by American culture, the devotions meeting turned into a very open meeting where live issues were raised and openly discussed, with tears and emotions running high. We felt quite awkward. We worked with a lovely intern, Joy, in her 'patch' on the farm. She gave a great overview of her garden, and even I could follow... or should I say fallow. DSC_1828.jpg'Semi- Arid' zone that we worked in today

'Semi- Arid' zone that we worked in today


We were shown around the library, by the very organised & well- read librarian, who tries to encourage/ bribe students to the library with candy on her desk... (even more reason for David to work in there).

A feeble attempt to milk a goat

A feeble attempt to milk a goat

I tried to help milk a goat this afternoon- an interesting and tricky job, especially as Freckles the goat kept trying to sit down. David had to hold up her bottom whilst I tried to squeeze out some milk. I think I was more of a hindrance than a help, but it was a good experience.
David wishes he was here for the full year, like the interns, and is excited to be learning by doing and having a 'hands on' experience... even hands on a goats bottom.
Makes a good brew...roselle tea

Makes a good brew...roselle tea

Posted by africraigs 18:20 Archived in USA Tagged food Comments (0)

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