by Yuen Shalyn
World Vision Malaysia
The word “Famine” took on a whole new meaning since I started working at World Vision Malaysia. 2014 is my third year participating in this annual event. It never fails to bring about a new perspective each time. This year, I learnt about GRATITUDE.
All staff are encouraged to fast together for 30 hours and this included a time of reflection. It was July 7 when all of us went through our usual day of work without food. It was initially liberating to go hungry for such a cause as we stepped into the shoes of those who struggle with hunger on a daily basis.
But as the day progressed, lethargy kicked in. With the stomach rumbling away, I found it difficult to concentrate. At that moment, the story of children struggling to stay attentive in class cause of hunger became real to me.
Did you know that 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world? (WFP, 2012)
Well, it was more than a number for me. The truth is that each hungry child is not able to concentrate, learn and perform specific tasks because hunger is very real. Education is one of the basic elements needed to create a safe place for children to thrive, while school meals will provide children at least one full meal a day. This helps children to learn better.
One of themes of this year’s 30-Hour Famine is on Child Safety. Every child should be safe, secure, protected and cherished. When it comes to children, the first thought that comes to mind is my 4-year-old daughter. How we, as parents will always try our best to provide an environment where our little ones can grow and flourish. Some of our concerns may be to provide our children the best education, a comfortable home, and to help cultivate their talents. But for many who are struggling with poverty, their main concern is to SURVIVE with basic provisions such as food, water and healthcare. I feel for the children but more too for the parents who by default are their pillars of strength and refuge.
My personal reflection on gratitude does not stop here. Yes, we should be grateful with how blessed we are while many are striving for mere survival. But more importantly, we should be more conscious on the needs of those struggling and start acting on how we can make a difference in their lives.
We were indeed grateful that our ‘next meal’ was served at 4pm, July 8 (after fasting for a total of 30 hours).
For many, their hunger continues on. Leading up to the Famine Countdown, all of us at World Vision are reminded of how we together with the thousands of campers can do our part in creating a safe place for every child and for them to have hope of a better future!
To learn more about the 30-Hour Famine movement, check it out here: http://famine.worldvision.com.my