Amy Jackson speaking with members of her community on the importance of addressing hunger issues abroad.
In early October, WFP launched a unique online course with the One Campaign and WFPUSA to transform students from all walks of life into powerful spokespersons in the fight against hunger.
249 students from all over the world enrolled in “Growing Solutions to Hunger: The Hunger and Agriculture Griots Project” to learn the facts of hunger, explore agricultural solutions, and challenge themselves to develop new advocacy skills. Six weeks later, these proud graduates – one mom, one teacher, one PhD student, and one grandfather – wanted to share with you their personal stories of transformation.
What she learned: Looking the other way is no longer an option
I have always known that I am fortunate. I have always had enough food. I have always been nurtured. I have always been able to speak my mind. I’ve never been beaten, and I’ve never been too sick to recover. I’ve always known that I am fortunate … but I’ve never understood why.
I can remember the first time I realized that not everyone is as fortunate as I am. I was as a child, in the 80s, staring at the television screen. I saw masses of people: hungry people. Babies with too-large bellies. And desperate eyes.
I did a great job of pushing those images out of my mind for most of my life. Surely there was nothing I could do. So I pushed those images further out of my mind. It was easier that way.
As an adult I’ve done my best to honor the life I have been given: I believe in the goodness of people. I feel for the weakest among us - and the outcast.
But what have I really done?
Thoughts of gratitude and guilt and empathy and compassion have floated in and out of my head for years - years in college … years as a young professional … years as a busy mother of two.
Then one typical night – wasting time on Facebook - an opportunity fell into my lap. Well, my laptop. ONE Campaign and WFP were looking for volunteers … voices to spread their message.
I didn’t waste time. This course was tailor-made for me. My educational background is in agricultural journalism and education. The demands of motherhood have eased as my youngest just turned three.
ONE and WFP had just offered me a chance to fill my need of filling others’ needs.
I became a griot. This was my time.
Roger Thurow said it best: “Well meaning people believe that hunger in the world is a given, like the poor, it will always be with us.” And as horrible as it seems, this was me: Compassion isn’t enough. Action is required.
During the course the main two things I learned are:
- The magnitude of hunger and malnutrition is enormous.
- There is hope.
The knowledge to solve these problems is out there.
I am in awe of how little it costs to nourish a child. Simple storage solutions. Irrigation systems. Better seeds. These can all save a family and, in turn, transform entire communities and countries.
During this course, I have really started talking to people within my own inner circles and learning about what people are doing locally … oftentimes that reaches out globally. This course has connected me to like-minded people across the world. I’m seeing their amazing work in action. And I’m taking action myself. I am active in our democracy, and I am spreading a message.
If I can convince other people that this problem can be solved; if we can get people talking; if we can give people the tools to do it, do you think we could put the WFP out of business? Maybe.
If everyone had to look into the eyes of a starving child just once, I think we could.
Written by Amy Jackson