Fact: There are 7 billion people in the world and roughly 1 billion of these are undernourished or suffering from starvation.
Fact: Hunger is the number one risk to health worldwide, killing more people annually than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined.
These facts are nothing short of shocking. Here we are, living happy, healthy lives with food on our plates every single day, whilst for a seventh – a seventh!- of the world population this isn’t the case. Why should we care? Because we can. Because we are somehow able to help, it is our duty as human beings to do so. Because we’re young and free and have the necessary motivation within us, we should all take advantage of it while it lasts.
Young people can join the fight against hunger in a multitude of ways, ranging from volunteering in local homeless shelters, to participating and fundraising for existing initiatives and to spreading the word at college and university campuses. Personally, I have for the past few years been fundraising for the WFP’s Fill the Cup campaign through the LSE’s United Nations society. More recently, I have started volunteering with an NGO in central London that collects unsold food from shops and distributes it out to homeless people every evening, whilst this past week, as part of my online internship, I have challenged my online community to skip a meal and donate all proceedings to the WFP’s WeFeedback initiative. There are so many initiatives out there for you to get involved in, so many projects to sponsor, so many organisations to volunteer with, that the problem you are faced with primarily should be one of choice.
You may initially be put off by the fact that you feel you can’t make a difference... it’s only natural - in a world of 7 billion, what impact could you potentially have? Each time someone mentions that argument, there’s this one quote by the Dalai Lama that crops up in my head: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room”. It’s true - everyone can make a difference, everyone can join the fight for a hunger-free world, no matter how small and how insignificant you think you may be in the grand scale of things.
Some people may also say that the fight for a world free of hunger is ‘pointless’, that famine may actually not have a solution - maybe this is the way the world is meant to be, maybe this is the natural course of things, maybe this is simple economics, maybe there isn’t anything we can do - thankfully, there is. The solutions are out there and available. We have the knowledge, the science and technology to do it and contrarily to popular belief, it has been proven that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone and ensure everyone has access to enough nutrients to live healthy, productive lifestyles.
So go out there, step outside your comfort zone, search your university campus, speak to your high school teachers, google everything you can possibly ever think of in the hunger milieu and I guarantee that you’ll be able to find a channel through which you can redirect your energy and help, in some way, fight for a world free from hunger.
Written by Joana Santos, WFP Online Intern - November 2011