Overcoming Hunger, One Meal at a Time
Today, over three billion people are living in poverty worldwide, and over one billion people, mostly women and children, are facing a chronic food and nutrition crisis. According to statistics compiled by UNICEF, it is estimated that 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Around 1.4 million children die each year due to the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation, and almost 30 percent of all children in developing countries are visibly underweight and crippled by stunted growth. Poverty and hunger pose as crushing and devastating emergencies worldwide. Unfortunately, the extensive numbers and statistics representing individuals in poverty prove to be daunting to many of those capable of making change, and prevent people from taking action. However, there are still people and global organizations that take up the call to end world hunger, and fight for a more peaceful, just, and prosperous world. Our Orcas community is filled with courageous and strong-willed individuals striving for positive change. High school juniors Ray Doss, Halle Thompson, and Dana Sabine recently hosted a school assembly to raise awareness about world hunger. The Orcas High School students wanted to get teachers, students, and the community thinking about the hunger crisis, as well as provide them with an opportunity to get involved in the battle against poverty.
The event was hosted on Tuesday the 25th, right before students left for Thanksgiving break. During the assembly, the student body was randomly separated into three groups representing the lower, middle, and upper classes. The upper class group was then given a full meal of quesadillas and beans, the middle class group was given a small cup of beans, and the lower class group was forced to share a few tortillas. This activity provided students with a visual example of the extent and effects of hunger, as well as demonstrated the injustice of poverty. Doss, Thompson, and Sabine then gave a presentation about world hunger, and explained to students what it really means to suffer extreme poverty. At the end of the assembly, the three students explained to the audience that it was one thing to understand poverty, and another thing to work to overcome it. They proposed an opportunity through which students could work together to fight poverty, and make a difference in their world. Doss, Thompson, and Sabine set up a charity project through Oxfam to raise money to build a well in a developing African country. Orcas High School students can participate by donating to the cause and joining the international Oxfam confederation of organizations. The entire presentation was very powerful and the audience left the assembly with good information and lost to think about.
Doss, Thompson, and Sabine had lots of inspiration, motivation, and help in planning and putting on their program. The three students got the idea for the event at a leadership camp held the summer of their sophomore year. “We went to HOBY (Hugh O’Brien Youth) leadership camp where they held this event,” Thompson explained, “It was really powerful then, and we thought it would be an important demonstration to introduce to our school.” Ray Doss went on to explain that the group met over the summer to plan a way to bring the HOBY Hunger Banquet experience back to Orcas Island. A huge amount of planning went into the event. The students were inspired by both the HOBY program and example procedures provided by Oxfam, but they also wanted to cater their event specifically to Orcas. “We kinda started from scratch,” Doss said, “we planned everything that we would do or say based on our own reactions from the one we did at HOBY. We had lots of help from volunteers in the community. We could not have done the event if it weren’t for the generosity of people on our school and community.” The food was donated and prepared by the school cafeteria, and many teachers and community members were involved in the assembly. The event was also purposefully planned to take place right before Thanksgiving. “We wanted to have this event right before Thanksgiving break to give everyone some perspective. I know that’s what everyone talks about around thanksgiving, but we though a visual representation of how our world looks would really show how lucky we really are,” stated Thompson.
Thompson and Doss confessed that hosting the event did have a few challenges. “For me, the most challenging part was the idea of public speaking, especially about such a heavy topic” Thompson admitted. Doss, however, disagreed. “The most challenging part for me was organizing and planning. I have learned a lot form the experience, and the biggest thing was how much it comes down to the minor details!” Despite all challenges, the assembly was a huge success and the presentation was flawless.
The event was a huge learning experience for everyone involved. “Hopefully, students are more globally aware after our presentation. It’s easy to take things for granted when they are constant and unlimited in your life. The goal was that our presentation would be hard to shake off, and it would leave a powerful impression on our school, and show students that poverty is one of the many problems our generation has inherited, and that it’s in our hands to fix this,” Thompson related. Doss hopes to see students get involved in the battle against hunger. “In the school we hope to accomplish our goal of raising 350 dollars to build a well in a third world country. We hope the community can join us as well by donating to our fundraiser, directly to OXFAM at oxfam.org, or become members of OXFAM by going to their website and joining,” Doss noted. Based on the positive feedback the students received, the even appears to have been a huge success in raising awareness about world hunger. “Afterwards, we got a lot of feedback from different parents, teachers,and students, which was really surprising and touching. I think our presentation definitely had an impact. Hopefully our fundraiser will be just as successful,” Thompson declared. Now it is up to the Orcas community to use its new knowledge about world hunger to join the struggle to end poverty and hunger. Don’t let the statistics impede progress. Donate to OXFAM now by clicking on the logo!