Making Hunger Personal

by Dorothee Stieber, Grade 12

The annual SMUS 30 Hour Famine took place from Thursday, April 3rd to Saturday, April 4th. Under the passionate leadership of our Social Studies teachers Kirsten Davel and David Lynch, 70 students and three teachers from the Senior School fasted for 30 hours to raise awareness of hunger around the world. Initiated by World Vision Canada, this nation-wide event serves to fund nutrition and food security programs in communities suffering from the global food crisis. Healthy nutrition and support will be provided in the poorest areas of Ethiopia, Nicaragua, North Korea and India thanks to the famine donations.

At SMUS, the 30 Hour Famine was a collective experience, shared during a sleepover from Friday to Saturday. Thanks to generous contributions from Thrifty Foods and Senior School Director Ms. Kathy Roth, water and juice supplies, as well as motivational activities supported the students’ strong will and sacrifice for the cause. During the evening, students also chose to learn the story of General Romeo Dallaire, a UN peacekeeper who played a key role in the UN mission during the Rwandan genocide. The story, depicted impressively in the movie Shake Hands with The Devil, though not directly related to the issue of hunger, exposed the students to a variety of horrors that continue to develop around the world, while we are safe and sound.

While busy times in our own lives often keep us from seeing the conditions people in our world, both near and far, are suffering from, we all chose to take the opportunity to change our focus for a moment. Reading and hearing about war, poverty, and hunger in the world is the call for some to take action. However, increasingly overwhelmed by historical and present day issues, we find ourselves involuntarily desensitized. News and reading are often not enough to inspire action towards change.

This is why the 30 Hour Famine is so important. These 30 hours of fasting allowed us all to take a step back and hold on for a moment. “I was able to open up to some issues beyond my comparatively insignificant personal world,” said one participant. “We all have to realize that we need a constant reminder and occasional breaks to stay in touch with what is happening around us. Compassion, love and struggle for those in peril are the essence of human nature, after all. All we need to do is come alive. While this may sound cliché, I find it’s true. It doesn’t take much more than holding on for a moment. Allow for stories of struggle to become clear as what they really are: reality for a human that essentially is as deserving, vulnerable and worthy as we are.”

Adds Ms. Kirsten Davel: “I have the greatest job in the world, for I can share these stories [of pressing issues] with the generation that will shape the future. Together, we can make a difference.”

The 30 Hour Famine. This time, it was personal.

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