Meet Phil: Hunger Griot

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 he learned: How to be a part of the solution for his granddaughter's generation

Have I mentioned I became a grandparent for the first time 2 years ago? My granddaughter is now old enough for us to take walks around our community several times a week. Our walks are a time of questions and discoveries. “Why are the leaves falling from the trees?” “WOW look at this bug!” “What is the big white circle in the sky tonight?” She is looking, seeing, discovering and experiencing the beauty of life and I am blessed to be with her.

Since her birth I have realized my thought process has been much more contemplative and even more so as I followed the WFP social media pages on the developing famine in the Horn of Africa and the tens of thousands of children who were dying of starvation and malnutrition. A thought kept reoccurring, something was stirring in my heart, what would my son or daughter-in- law do if it were their daughter (my granddaughter, the little one holding my hand) who was hungry or suffering from malnutrition? I knew that I knew I had to do more for the children, for their parents and grandparents who have no voice; it was time for me to be more effective in being a part of the solution for my granddaughter’s generation.

Having been involved in philanthropy for many years, I focused my research on the issues of hunger and famines. I quickly realized that one of the best resources was the WFP. As I began digging deeper I saw a posting on Facebook about a new collaborative program by ONE and WFP: The Hunger and Agricultural Griot course. I applied and fortunately was accepted. Prior to taking the course I think I was fairly typical; maybe a little more of an advocate, but I believed that famines happen and the best way to help was to send more food to help in the emergency and somehow things might get better.

My perspective on hunger and agricultural issues has been truly transformed. The evidence is clear that famine is a man-made disaster. I have been challenged to my core beliefs on the causes of famine, the possibilities of smallholder agriculture and the critical role of women. Through the course materials of videos, fact sheets and articles by many different and diverse organizations, I now believe there are real attainable solutions to hunger and famine. I have hope that for the first time in history we have the knowledge, technical understanding, and tools necessary to make sure that everyone on our planet, no matter where they live, can have nutritious food for their family.

The Griot course has also challenged me to realize that prior to this course I was, what I call a “quiet voice”. I was not sure there was a real hope for a resolution to the continual famines in the world. This course, the new knowledge gained, the interactive relationships with fellow Griots throughout the world, and the understanding that food insecurity is very complex but also solvable has given me great hope. I will no longer be a “quiet voice”. To me one of the most inspiring, compelling components of this course has been the videos of fellow villagers telling their stories. They have touched my heart and I will tell their story and share their hope.

I promise to be a voice that is heard, to convey this passion to my family and friends and even more so to my community and beyond. To communicate the reality that we have the opportunity to be a great generation--the generation that ended hunger!


Written by Phil Gregoria