Did you know that 29,000 children die every day from hunger and other preventable causes? Within the 3.2 seconds it took you to read that sentence, another child died, but some people are trying to do something about it. World Vision's 30-Hour Famine is an international youth movement whose mission is to "fight hunger and change the lives of your group, hungry children, and our world forever." It raises money which goes toward helping girls go to school, caring for AIDS orphans, fighting disease, and feeding children.
When the 30-Hour Famine started in 1971, only $600 was raised. Last year, North American teenagers raised $12 million through fasting for 30 hours and asking for donations. The first time I participated was in tenth grade. This year, I really wanted to make an impact on the lives of children in developing countries, and as the head of my school's Multicultural Leadership Club, I had the opportunity to organize the famine. It turned out to be a huge success.
Since I had to organize the famine, I did some research. The high death rate of children in developing countries shocked me. I also found out that 860 million people go to bed hungry, and that one child in five in the developing world is malnourished. Just $356 can feed a child for a whole year. Stunned by the number of people living with starvation, I decided I would do my best to raise a lot of money. I advertised the event and 56 people decided to participate. The MLC organized many events for fundraising: we sold cotton candy, we had a Mystery Box event (in which you touch whatever is in the box and guess what it is) and Guess the Candy, (where you guess the number of candies in a jar). We raised $500 with those three events. All those participating in the famine received forms so they could collect donations. I asked everyone I knew (including church members, friends, teachers, neighbors and even my employers) and raised $800. The 56 participants raised $4,600 for impoverished children.
The actual 30 hours of fasting was not impossible. Armed with juice boxes, the participants fought off hunger by drinking. We had an awesome sleepover in the school gym. First we had a gym-riot, which is an icebreaker that helped us get to know each other. After that, we had time to play sports, watch movies, do makeovers, play board games, and other things.
I feel this event truly raised awareness about the less fortunate. Because most of us live in such comfort in North America, we rarely contemplate others' fates. Imagine you are a girl born in Guatemala, you wouldn't have the opportunity to go to school. Many teenagers in developing countries worry about their next meal while we worry about what to wear for a date or if we have enough money to buy a pair of designer jeans.
It is a completely different world out there and I believe that those who can should try and make a difference. After participating in this event, I feel grateful for everything I have. Even though I am not wealthy, I am much better off than many. I have a whole new perspective and set of values.
What you get in return from the 30-Hour Famine is priceless. Sure, you cannot change the world, but you can start by changing individual lives. Take a stand against hunger and disease! Interested? Check out www.30hourfamine.org.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.