Tuesday 16 September 2014

Hunger - it shouldn't be happening!

Next Friday I'm going along to one of the local Food Bank projects to see how it operates and investigate if I can help out on a regular basis. I know that hunger and poverty is rife in the world, I saw it firsthand when I travelled to Ethiopia with ONE in 2012. I also saw it far closer to my own home when I lived in Hertfordshire and befriended a lady who through a set of crappy circumstances had ended up without enough money to feed herself and her kids.

Since moving to East Sussex I've realised that Hastings is probably an area with a high level of poverty but I never realised how much of a problem it is. Tonight I've been investigating and according to the Campaign to End Child Poverty the level of children living in poverty (and thus hungry) in Hastings across all areas is 31%. When you look at some individual areas the figure is as high as 47% and I kid you not when I say I have a massive lump in my throat as I read that and type this.

I needed to read it too, it is so easy to live a comfortable life and think that everyone else is OK, but they are not and it is up to all of us to make a difference and do something about it and yes that is big and scary and feels like a massive weight but you only have to look at the progress being made in the battle to end world extreme poverty (defined as a person living on less than $1.25 per day for all their needs). In the last 20 years is has been halved and if we continue at the same pace it could be virtually wiped out by 2030 and that is surely something to whoop for joy about.

Taken in Ethiopia. Image Credit - Karen Walrond/ONE
So I choose not to get bogged down and to fall into the doldrums because the problem feels too big but I pledge to help with the Hastings food bank and to chat to people who are using the service and to help them feel valued and heard. But it is not enough for me to just help out locally I also have to keep playing my part in the bigger plan and I'll do that by working with the charities and NGOs that I believe in, like ONE, Compassion, Plan, Save the Children and Tearfund.

I'm trying to stay more up to date with what is going on at the moment, which campaigns are happening, who needs support and what with and also I'm heading to Washington, USA in October for the AYA Summit with ONE. At this meeting I will get to meet a whole host of inspirational women, and just like I was when I went to Ethiopia I expect to be fully humbled and inspired to do more, fight harder and be better. I feel more privileged than I can ever express to have this opportunity, in fact when the email came through inviting me I asked if they really wanted me, surely there were better advocates to spend the cost of the airfare on but it seems ONE believe in me and the people reading my blog and being influenced by my writing and travels. I sincerely thank you readers (friends) for taking the time to take small steps which help us change the world and change perceptions too.

I've never been to America before and I've not been on a plane since my amazing blogger journeys in 2012 but these are not the things that are really exciting me. What is really blowing my mind is the chance to meet some change makers. African women who with the necessary education and tools are making a massive difference within their families and communities. These are the real champions who are slicing the figures for those living in extreme poverty and I pray they impact me and inspire me to keep taking small steps or maybe even to return to the UK and to take a really bold and scary step. Who knows what lays ahead for me...

Can you add your voice and help ONE to campaign for an end to extreme poverty?

If you are not familiar with who ONE are, then please take a look at earlier posts of mine - here, here and here or Liska from New Mum Online interviewed me about ONE and you can read that post. Or go and check out the website. They will never ask you for money, they are an NGO (non-governmental organisation) not a charity, what they require is your support and voice. Can you sign a petition, tweet a message, talk to friends, share on FB or speak to your MP - all those things make a difference when a massive collective of people do them.

I'll leave you with this very short video, I've shared it before but I love it.  It is a bunch of kids talking about why poverty is not our problem!

Disclosure: ONE have invited me to be their guest at the AYA summit in October and they will be paying my expenses to be there. I fully believe in the work they do and I have not been instructed what I must write, I am free to be honest and always am.

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