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Morality of Preparation Tells Why Foreign Aid from U.S. Stops Dire Global Suffering of Millions

By Rev. John L. McCullough and Rev. David Beckmann

Via “The Hill”  

David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; Ambassador Tony Hall, head of the Alliance to End Hunger; Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners; and Ritu Sharma, president an co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, announce the beginning of their fast to form a circle of protection around federal programs that help hungry and poor people – programs that could be cut in the budget. Photographed at the National Press Club on Monday, March 28, 2011.
(Photographs by Laura Elizabeth Pohl / Bread for the World)

As religious leaders and faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to promoting the dignity of every human being, we are keenly aware of the irreplaceable role American leadership plays on the world stage.  The work we NGOs do would not have nearly the impact it has without U.S. government leadership and funding, which, through our own leadership and private funding, we leverage every day.

Together we are helping build healthier generations in even in the most desperate places. Our work does not just alleviate the emergency at hand, we work to mitigate disasters before they hit. Building strength and resilience in anticipation of unavoidable catastrophes prevents avoidable deaths. It helps populations make a fast comeback so they can get back to the act of living and not just surviving until the next catastrophe strikes.

Take Africa’s Sahel, infamous for its history of famine. Because “building resilience” is underway, during the massive 2011 drought, children did not die by the tens of thousands as they tragically did in areas we have yet to reach, such as Somalia. Our public and private partnerships across the region have made it better able to weather the recurring cycle of droughts. How? With health centers that provide nutrition when it’s needed most; more resilient drought-resistant crops; diversified food sources; improved livestock survival rates; preserved food stocks; safe water storage; roads that get crops to market and keep local economies afloat.

Church World Service President and CEO, the Rev. John L. McCullough, was asked to address a joint gathering of Bread for the World and Scaling Up Nutrition June 10, 2013.

Foreign assistance can dramatically reduce the need for expensive emergency relief, and, most importantly, it saves and improves lives for the long haul. Foreign assistance from the U.S. and many other countries around the world is making smart investments that enable communities to thrive and momentum is on our side:

  • Six million fewer children died last year from preventable diseases than in 1990 and a record-breaking number of children around the world now live past their fifth birthday. Nutrition interventions during the critical first 1,000 days from pregnancy to age two help to ensure a child’s ability to grow, learn, and thrive throughout their lifetime. Every dollar invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity. It is exciting to see that the U.S. government will soon announce a landmark, comprehensive nutrition strategy on global maternal and child nutrition.
  • Investments in primary education have helped increase the global literacy rate by 33 percent and triple primary school enrollment in the last 25 years. Individual earnings increase 10 percent for every year of school completed which fuels economic productivity among these countries, many of whom are also our trade partners.
  • The U.S. government has supported life-saving HIV/AIDS antiretroviral treatment for 6.7 million men, women, and children worldwide. Of the 780,000 pregnant women who tested positive for HIV last year, 95 percent of their children were born HIV-free due to treatment interventions.
  • Then there’s polio. On the verge of eradication, polio once crippled 350,000 children every year. Last year there were 400 documented cases worldwide.

As the U.S. Congress works on appropriations, every American who believes in the basic dignity of a human being must continue to support this momentum. That means funding for humanitarian and poverty-focused development assistance programs must remain at levels comparable or higher than those enacted in the previous year.

We don’t believe there is a choice here. How can we stomach the desperate looks on children’s faces and refuse to help when we know we are able? Each of us, citizens and elected representatives, reflect the priorities of this great nation, and among the most important is hope and compassion for all God’s children.

Beckmann is the president of Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging Congress to end hunger domestically and abroad. McCullough is president and CEO of Church World Service, a global humanitarian agency with programs in development and humanitarian affairs, advocacy for social justice, and refugee assistance.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/207117-morality-of-preparation#ixzz34STU3Mmp
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World Malaria Day is April 25th

Rachel Finn and Nina Pine, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

by Nina Pine and Rachel Finn, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

While the two of us have been planning the San Francisco CROP Hunger Walk as our World Malaria Day Event, often we are asked the question, “Why are you supporting malaria prevention efforts at a hunger walk?  Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”

The fact of the matter is, however, that malaria and hunger are incredibly intertwined.  Just check out this video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GElrSm2hF2g] from one of our volunteers, who explains her own experience with malaria and why it’s such an important cause in the fight against extreme poverty as a whole.

Delivering food to a community in need is a noble act.  It is a life-saving act.  And yet unfortunately, it is not a sustainable act.  Extreme hunger worldwide is not caused by a lack of food, but rather, systemic social corruption and flawed distribution.  To change the narrative on hunger, we must change the systems of power and the societal structures in which communities live.  To do so is a daunting task, and incredibly complex.

Yet, one effective step we can tangibly make is on the issue of malaria.  Malaria is a disease of poverty – it has been eradicated in parts of the world with access to needed finances, such as here in California.  Malaria is both treatable and preventable.  And yet, a child still dies every 60 seconds from this deadly disease.  It is less a problem of complexity than a lack of resources.

Malaria prevention, elimination, and hopefully one day, eradication, are excellent goals in and of themselves. And yet, the ripple effect from treating it has far larger reaches.  It improves education, because children do not miss days of school due to severe illness.  It improves maternal health by significantly decreasing the number of deaths in pregnant women.  Perhaps most importantly, malaria elimination would drastically improve the situation of extreme hunger around the globe.  Individuals will not have to miss days of harvesting crops due to illness.  Families will not have to decide whether to spend their money on medicine for a sick child, or food for the rest.  Men, women, and children will have the strength they need to fight against the societal blockades keeping them impoverished.

We hope you’ll support us this World Malaria Day in taking a holistic approach to tackling extreme poverty, by recognizing the interconnectedness of problems around the world.  Please visit cropwalksf.org to learn more about our Walk and how to be a supporter.

Will you walk with us?

Why This Atheist Still Needs His Former Pastor

by Chris Stedman
from Relevant Magazine

“It’s been a long time, Tiffer,” he said through one of his characteristically gigantic grins. It had been nearly as long since anyone outside my family called me that name.

“It sure has, Doogie,” I said, returning his grin, imagining he hadn’t heard that nickname in a while, either. As an espresso machine rattled and steamed from across the room, Matthew informed me that he had recently left a call in parish ministry and was now in Massachusetts working for an organization called Outreach Inc. – Kids Care, which organizes meal-packaging events for churches and conferences that want to give back. In addition to coordinating these events, he donated his Sunday mornings to traveling around New England and preaching at churches, hoping to inspire them to get involved in the fight against hunger. I asked if he’d be interested in expanding his partnerships beyond churches and Christian conferences and working with an atheist organization on an interfaith program. He didn’t even hesitate.

It’s funny because, when he first asked me to get coffee, I hesitated. “What will he think of the work I do now?” I asked myself. “Will he feel like he failed me as a pastor? Will he want to debate theology? Will he try to bring me back into the church?”

Such hesitance was unmerited; he sat and listened as I updated him on my life, smiling and nodding as I described how I’ve come into my own as an atheist, an interfaith activist and a young man. Now, Matthew and I have a better and more honest relationship than we ever did in my youth.

It’s been a more productive one, too: in less than six months, we’ve mobilized hundreds of people to come together in interfaith coalition and donate their time and money to package over 30,000 meals for food-insecure children in Boston. Most recently we held an event (planned with Boston University’s Interfaith Council) called HUNGERally, where over a hundred student representatives from eight Boston-area colleges and universities spent a Saturday night learning about the problem of hunger and pledging to work together across lines of religious difference to address it.

All of this is the direct result of a partnership between an atheist and his former pastor. In light of this, I cannot help but wonder what the world would look like if we were more willing to forge unconventional alliances. What would happen if we were more radical about whom we saw as our collaborators? What would happen if we took the risk of reaching out to the unfamiliar? If atheists and Christians started seeing one another as necessary partners in making the world a better place, what might we come to understand about each other? What might we come to better understand about ourselves? What might we accomplish together?

Click here to read the full article

An Empty Place at My Seder Table

by Ruth Messinger
from the Huffington Post

Last spring, my organization, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), asked its supporters to set an empty place at their Shabbat tables. This was a gesture to show solidarity with the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night.

As I prepare for Passover, this year, I’ve decided to incorporate the empty place at my table as a new Seder ritual. This empty place will stand for all those around the world who still lack the basic freedoms that our Seders celebrate. I want my guests to understand that none of us will be truly free until marginalized people everywhere can realize their human rights — access to food and water, gender equality and freedom from violence, government accountability and transparency, access to education and health care, and the list goes on. So, before we begin to sip our first cup of wine, I and my guests will be reciting the lines below.

As we enjoy bountiful food and drink this night and remember our starvation in Egypt … We commit to support those who struggle today with the horrors of hunger.

Among those I’ll be symbolically inviting to join my Seder are the hungry. The Hagaddah itself invokes, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat.” This is more important today than ever, as more than a billion people globally are now living on less than a dollar a day. It is common for people in the Global South to spend 75 percent of their income on food, yet food prices have skyrocketed recently. And in Washington, politics have trumped compassion. Our government is putting the final touches on a federal budget that cuts by 11 percent food aid that is designed to help those who are starving.

By setting an empty place in solidarity with the hungry, I commit myself to promoting food justice by protesting cuts to humanitarian aid, and by supporting communities’ work to grow food.

Click here to read the entire article

April 19th, 2011 at 12:09 pm