Thankfully, most students at the College will never have to experience the pain of true hunger. Yet in locations around the world, and even in our own country, this is certainly not the case. Every day, 29,000 children die from hunger and other preventable diseases around the world.
On Feb. 25 and 26, members of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IV), TCNJ Gospel Choir and concerned members of the campus community decided to do something about it by participating in the College’s second annual 30-Hour Famine.
30-Hour Famine is run on a national level by World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization. For the past 13 years, World Vision has encouraged millions of teens in 21 different countries to sacrifice food for 30 hours in order to experience, if only for a small amount of time, the hardships that many poverty-stricken people face each day.
In order to raise funds for this event, students or participants were encouraged to explain to potential donors that just $30 a month (or $1 a day) is enough money to feed and care for a child for 30 days. World Vision hopes that when all of the money raised is tallied in the next few weeks, they will have reached their goal of $13.5 million dollars.
Students at the College set a more modest goal, working to raise $10,000 as opposed to the $7,000 they totaled last year. With 120 participants, IV president Tori Barrett is optimistic that this goal will be met and perhaps even exceeded.
“People haven’t even started turning in their money yet, and we have already received $1,500 in donations from people on campus and a few local churches,” Barrett, junior elementary education and sociology major, said. “Also, every dollar that we raise is matched by six from the federal government. It’s awesome to know that the $1,500 we’ve raised is really providing $10,500-which would push us beyond our goal without even collecting from participants. It’s really amazing to think that there is such an impact being made from the little bit of help that we are really giving.”
Participants in the event agreed with Barrett, noting that 30 hours without a meal from Eickhoff was a small price to pay to help those in need.
“I know how much World Vision really provides for those who are suffering,” Dana Cholish, junior biology major, said. “I knew that by giving up food for 30 hours I would be helping so many starving people. It was a small sacrifice with a huge payoff.”
Funds raised by this year’s famine will be used to fight poverty in locales around the globe, including Southeast Asia. With the recent tsunami claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and resources, World Vision is placing a special emphasis on helping the victims of this tragedy through their 2005 campaign.
According to the official 30-Hour Famine press release, World Vision will also be using the money participants raise to respond to a severe drought in Kenya that has created food shortages affecting 3.3 million people, 1.5 million of whom are children.
In the Darfur region of Sudan, World Vision is the main force behind the World Food Program. The organization also plans to assist Sudanese refugees in Chad.
Students took part in a number of activities throughout the weekend that were designed to place them in the shoes of those they sought to aid.
On Friday night they played a game called “Tribe,” in which teammates participated in challenges that helped them to envision what life might be like in a Kenyan village that lacked food and water and was prone to the AIDS virus.
In addition, IV also organized a Bible study, a trip to a coffee house in Princeton and a service project on Saturday morning. At this time, the students were divided into groups that went door-to-door on campus and in the surrounding area to collect non-perishable items for Mercer Street Friends. Finally, at 1 p.m., the group broke their fast together, enjoying a meal for the first time since Friday morning at 7 a.m., when the famine began.
“The 30-Hour Famine has been a great way to raise awareness about hunger and poverty on our campus,” Barrett said. “But more than that, it helps people see how easy it is to do something about it. It’s a problem that can be fixed if we want it to.”
Aside from addressing an issue that many of us fail to recognize, participants in the 30-Hour Famine gained a new perspective on their lives and the things that they value.
“I think this is a great event for the campus to be involved in,” Erin Arentz, senior English education major, said. “A dollar can go a long way for a needy person. The Famine has changed the way I look at the blessings in my life I normally take for granted.”
With the money raised at the College and around the globe, World Vision and the 30-Hour Famine participants hope that those who are in need will eventually receive such blessings.
For more information on the 30 Hour Famine, check out 30hourfamine.org.