Yesterday saw hundreds of thousands of people in around 100 countries step out with WFP, to call for an end to child hunger.
I remember in a special way those brothers and sisters who suffer from hunger
Pope Benedict XVI
Participants from across the spectrum joined – including children from among the ranks of the hungry as well as heads of state, royalty, Olympic champions, famous artists, students, scouts and grassroots activists.
Now in its fifth year, “Fight Hunger: Walk the World” was organized by WFP and its corporate partners, TNT* and Unilever*, around the globe.
Taking a stand
Among the Walk’s many supporters were hundreds of volunteers, as well as private companies, charitable organisations and other institutions such as the International Olympic Committee, the World Organization of the Scout Movement, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
In all 24 time zones, from East Asia to the Pacific, people took to their feet to draw attention to an unacceptable fact: 18,000 children die of hunger daily on a planet that produces more than enough food to feed every inhabitant.
Through a simple act of walking in unison – on one day of the year – citizens are raising awareness and resources to eliminate this scourge.
In 2006, more than 700,000 people walked around the world to raise awareness and enough money to provide WFP school meals for one year for 100,000 children. Initial reports (see www.FightHunger.org) indicate that this year’s Walk was equally – if not more – successful.
The Pope, for a second year running, acknowledged the importance of the Walk. Yesterday, while on a visit to Brazil, he said: "I remember in a special way those brothers and sisters who suffer from hunger. I want to mention the Walk against hunger promoted by the World Food Programme, the United Nations agency responsible for food assistance.”
Brazil, which last year saw a massive turnout of 200,000 walkers, is expected to exceed that figure in several locations across the country.
The King of Swaziland participated in the Walk in Lobamba and released four doves to symbolically banish hunger from the four corners of his country. He was joined on the walk by around 5,000 people.
President Museveni of Uganda walked a full eight kilometres: “Good exercise for a noble cause,” he said, leading some 5,500 people in Kampala. Walks took place in five other locations in Uganda, with an estimated 48,000 internally displaced people taking part in war-torn Pader, northern Uganda.
Ahead of the walk, Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent a letter to South Africans urging them to join the Walk in Johannesburg.
Walks took place in several European capitals as well as in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, where 2,500 people turned out despite unsettled weather. The Rotterdam walk was organised by WFP partners TNT and Unilever whose employees were joined by members of the public.
The Walk even took place in a virtual sense, as players of the popular on-line game “Second Life” walked and danced the night away in another dimension.