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Posts Tagged ‘hunger’

The Life You Can Save

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

If we could easily save the life of a child, we would. For example, if we saw a child in danger of drowning in a shallow pond, and all we had to do to save the child was wade into the pond, and pull him out, we would do so. The fact that we would get wet, or ruin a good pair of shoes, doesn’t really count when it comes to saving a child’s life.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Yet at the same time almost a billion people live very comfortable lives, with money to spare for many things that are not at all necessary. (You are not sure if you are in that category? When did you last spend money on something to drink, when drinkable water was available for nothing? If the answer is “within the past week” then you are spending money on luxuries while children die from malnutrition or diseases that we know how to prevent or cure.)

The Life You Can Save seeks to change this. If everyone who can afford to contribute to reducing extreme poverty were to give a modest proportion of their income to effective organizations fighting extreme poverty, the problem could be solved. It wouldn’t take a huge sacrifice.

But first we need to change the culture of giving – to make giving to help the needy something that any normal decent person would do. To help bring about this change, we need to be upfront about our giving. Will you take the pledge, and thereby encourage others to do the same?

For more details, and sources for the claims made here, please see the book The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty.

World Vision

Friday, February 20th, 2009

What do they do?
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome extreme poverty and injustice. World Vision New Zealand currently supports more than 70 projects in more than 25 countries.

How can I get involved?

  • Sponsoring a Child
  • Getting involved in a Charity Challenge (biking round Cambodia or climbing Mt Kilamanjaro are a few examples)
  • Volunteer to help run World Vision programmes in NZ
  • Participating in/running a 40-hour Famine
  • Donating directly
  • Getting involved in World Vision advocacy campaigns
  • Joining/starting a World Vision group at your school or university

Zimbabwe Food Crisis

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009


Feast or Famine?

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Food for thought… burger Food is an integral part of human existence — we need it to survive. It is part burgerof a global system linked to issues like trade, genetic modification famine, slavery, health, food miles and sustainability. Sounds complicated huh? It gets even more complicated when you consider the huge number of media messages and images we are bombarded with every day, telling us what to eat, how to look and what is beautiful. Basically, food corporations want us to eat cheaply produced food lacking in nutrition and stuffed with chemicals, harvested by poorly-paid labour and flown half way across the world, while advertisers and the media place unrealistic expectations on us to be thin and beautiful. An exaggeration? You decide.

Stuffed or starved? child with foodThere are 800 million people in the world who go hungry every day and there are over a BILLION people who are obese. There is enough food in the world for everyone, but the systems in place mean that some people don’t get enough food and others have access to lots of unnutritious food. Fast food outlets and supermarkets have made food convenient and easy… you don’t have to think, just eat! Un-conscious eating is making us unhealthy and a lot of us obese. But as we keep over-consuming in the developed world, many people in the developing work — including those who pick our cocoa beans, coffee beans, bananas and tomatoes — are struggling because they don’t have access to affordable food. More info: Killing us softly mannequinsFiji, a country that traditionally valued the fuller figure’, was affected by an outbreak of eating disorders three year after television arrived in 1995. A study by Harvard Medical School found that 74% if teenage girls surveyed felt they were “too big or fat” and 15% of the girls reported they had vomited to control weight. The introduction of western values and (unrealistic) images of beauty was seen as the likely cause of the increase in eating disorders. More info: Borrow the movie Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising Images of Women (DVD) from the Global Education Centre library Freeganomics dumpsterIn the US it is estimated that half of the food produced each year is thrown away. You probably know about vegans but have you heard about Freegans? Freegans are a group of people who live solely off the waste of others and distance themselves from big corporations and consumerism. They go through dumpsters outside supermarkets and other shops (known as dumpster diving’) and pick out the unspoiled food that has been thrown away. They also grow their own food or contribute to community gardens. They are not poor or homeless, they do this in an attempt to minimise their impact on the planet. More info: When cows lay eggs?! cowNot sure where your food comes from? You’re not the only one. A recent survey of 1,000 British kids aged eight to fifteen revealed some strange ideas. In answer to the question: If cows ate grass, what colour would their milk be?’, eight percent answered brown, green or not sure. Ten percent of the city kids in the survey (the country kids did a little better) didn’t know where yoghurt came from and eight percent were unable to say which animal beef comes from. Of the same group, two percent thought that bacon might be from cows or sheep, and that eggs come from cows. More info: Are biofuels worth it? cropAlthough recently highlighted as a key solution to another pressing global issue — climate change — the production of biofuels may actually be causing more harm than good, particularly when it comes to food. Biofuels need a large amount of water and fertile land — land often found in developing countries which could otherwise be used to grow food crops. The UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser recently described the global rush to grow biofuels as “profoundly stupid”, pointing out that a global food crisis is going to hit before some of the more serious impacts of climate change. More info here. LEARN MORE: Find out about food production and distribution at Food First or Global Issues TAKE ACTION! It can seem too big and complicated to do anything about, but taking action is the ONLY way things change, so here are a few suggestions to get you started. Get reconnected with your food by growing your own veggies. Check out the action section on for some great tips on organic gardening. Watch these DVDs, all available to hire FOR FREE at the Global Education Centre: Media that Matters — Good Food A Selection of Short Films on Food and Sustainability What’s Really In Our Food? InsideNew Zealand SuperSizeMe The Future of Food This article originally appeared in Tearaway magazine as part of the Global Focus project.

Vegetarianism…make the move!

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Kayt Bronnimann

supermarket shelf of meatWhen you think of issues of global justice, vegetarianism is not one that immediately comes to mind. Many would think that choosing to become a vegetarian is less important than other issues that we should be campaigning for.

It may seem that vegetarianism is an individual choice has little effect in the wider scheme of things. However, the benefits of a vegetarian diet are widespread and effect more than just animals.

Vegetarianism’s links to global issues/why be a vegetarian:

  • compassion to animals/ animal rights
  • refusing to buy into another system of exploitation
  • a diet based on meat is no longer required
  • health benefits
  • compassion to our fellow human beings are great
  • environmental
  • hunger problems

Meat and the Environment/Pollution…
burger close upSince the industrial age the world has seen a rapid destruction of the environment around us, including increased pollution and global warming Much of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed in order to make way for cattle ranches where cows are fattened up and slaughtered to become tomorrow night’s dinner. McDonalds in particular, along with all its other injustices, is guilty of this crime. (See the McSpotlight website for more info)

Unlike the indigenous Indians of the Amazon who use traditional deforestation techniques, including slash and burn, that allow the forest to renew itself after a time, the techniques that McDonalds some cattle ranchers employ ensures that nothing will be growing in that spot once they’re done. Eventually they exhaust the land and have to move on destroying more and more rainforest in their wake. The Amazon is responsible for a large part of the world’s oxygen yet we carnivores seem hell-bent on getting our products no matter what the cost may be.

It’s not only the big multi-nationals that are guilty of contributing to environmental pollution. Farmers are part of the problem too. For years, in New Zealand farming practices were unregulated, allowing the effluent from their activities to be dumped anywhere, most often in our waterways. Although there are much stricter laws concerning this now, with farmers being expected to build settling ponds, the damage has already been done. New Zealand used to be a place where people could swim and drink from most rivers or lakes around the country without fear of contamination, but this is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Many of the world’s plant and animal species are now extinct; hunted to death in a senseless display of man’s bloodlust. And it’s still happening at an ever-increasing rate.

World Hunger
World hunger is something that can be helped in part by adopting a vegetarian diet. A large number of the world crops are grown to be fed to animals that end up on the dinner plate of many a rich Westerner. A huge percentage of agricultural land is used to grow feed for animals. And the developing world also provides much of our animal feed. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that this is an illogical system. With the crisis of world hunger growing worse every year, it is not justifiable to continue taking away valuable land and food from developing countries so that we can enjoy a nice Sunday roast.

sausage bbqIn terms of energy and protein it is much more efficient to grow food directly for human consumption. And with obesity becoming a problem in Western countries it is obvious we are consuming far more than our energy needs require. Our meat consumption is directly affecting the lives of billions of people.

Meat and Oppression
In her book The Sexual Politics of Meat’ Carol J. Adams links meat consumption to an oppressive, patriarchal, war mongering society. If we can so easily kill animals for our own gratification and not link the slab of meat (or more aptly put, corpse) in front of us to a dead animal, how can we be expected to spare a thought for the millions who have been killed in senseless wars over the years?

Pacifism and vegetarianism have often gone hand in hand - with the belief that it is hypocritical to condemn war, and killing around the world, while buying in to the culture of meat eating. If one can justify killing animals, it is only a small step to justify taking human life. Killing, whether of a human or a cow, should never be justified. What right do we have to take another creature’s (human or otherwise) life so that we can continue with our existence?
cow in a field
Challenge the status quo

This constant need for expansion, growth, consumption of more, More, MORE!! that capitalism advocates is destroying our environment, extinguishing species, and keeping the poor in poverty so we can enjoy our comfortable lifestyle.

Obviously vegetarianism isn’t going to solve all the world’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. We need to combat the apathy that we all seem to have, realise our privileged position, and think how our actions may be affecting the rest of the world. And extending this consideration to animals can’t hurt. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s time we opened our eyes and start giving a damn about the world we inhabit.


The Vegetarian Society
The Vegan Society
The New Zealand Vegetarian Society


  • Become a vegetarian!
  • Join an animal rights group

The Future of Food - Review

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

By Lena Stahlschmidtfutureoffood_photo

The information that the film presents is so interesting and terrifying that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Although the format is what some may call a little dry’ the movie had my full attention the entire time. This is the type of film that you’d expect to see in class; educational, informative and no Hollywood action scenes’.

The movie presents food in the 21st century: the way we grow it, the way we mess with it and the current corruption, deceit, and dangers that exist. It also gives an even dimmer outlook of our planet’s future related to food. The movie looks at the many aspects of genetic engineering ranging from the cellular make-up to its global impact. The main focus is on the lack of studies, precautions, and knowledge about the effects of GE and the role that the American government and agriculture companies played in the development of GE food.

It is a documentation of corruption, deceit, money, and power that has lead to our generation being the guinea pig in the fight for the global control over food. The issues raised in this movie are crucial to the sustainability of our planet and existence.

Stars: 4 ****

Find out more.
Learn more about where New Zealand stands in genetic engineering Here is what another Just Focus members had to say.

Take Action!!!

Food Altert.

The Campaign


Beautiful the word

Friday, April 21st, 2006

Leah Millis

All I could do was tell her she was beautiful. And she was. Her mother brought me in to the small room, revealing a skinny little girl, enveloped in sheets, curled up on a bed so big it seemed to swallow up her tiny body. Her dark skin contrasted with the white of her covers. Daylight filtered in from the window, providing the only light in the room. A glass of water sat on the floor next to the bed. I could hear the girl’s laboured breathing, and her mother watched anxiously as I sat down next to the girl, and struggled to find words. They thought I was a doctor. They told me she had problems breathing, had a bad cough, and sometimes she fainted. All I could do was tell her she was beautiful, and smile, and ask her name. She smiled weakly back, and I realized that in that sad smile, in her small, frail arms, and sick eyes there really was beauty.

As we passed hundreds of faces, bumping up and down a dirt road full of potholes and puddles, it finally hit me. We really were in Haiti. I felt out of place, almost a rude invader while we streaked through these people’s lives, stirring up dust behind us, the travelers on the road parting ahead, to let us through. Here an old man, with fifteen hats stacked high on top of his head. There a young boy leading his family’s mule, the animal weighed down with twigs and cargo. Every house, every naked child, every family we pass, all have stories. The thatched roofs and fences made with cactus, the lines of clothing hanging near by, the old women cooking by their fires all fill me with emotion. I search, and I grope for the right words to describe what I see, and the word that comes up the most is beautiful.

We arrived at our destination, and set up camp. All the children came to greet us, with their big white, beautiful smiles. It wasn’t a school day, so they all wore their own clothes. Some were better off then others—some boys had a belt, others did not, some had shoes, others did not. Their shirts and clothes were all second hand, usually with some recognizable logo, or something written in English. The children’s laughter rang out through the afternoon, and I was overwhelmed for a while trying to learn names, and allowing them all to touch my white skin, and my hair. Each smiled, and many of the little girls used my own word to describe me, as I used for them, “belle” they said as they examined my hands. One little boy with big eyes and a wonderful smile wore an old worn out sweatshirt, that maybe once was white, but since had turned grey. It hung loose over one shoulder, and the disparity between the old piece of clothing, and the pure, chocolate color of the boy’s remarkably clean skin was beautiful.

woman in haiti with poem

Since my arrival in Haiti, I realized that the meaning of such a common word in America had completely changed for me. The word became once again uncommon, and special— it lost its superficial feel. The meaning of the word had previously been warped, misconstrued, violated, and utterly tainted. In America, the word has been used to describe giant mansions, unnaturally skinny movie stars, and pretty sunsets over the mountains. I realized that the mansions, the movie stars, and the sunsets did not deserve beautiful. Such a sacred word meant more to me now then something that was simply aesthetically pleasing. The surface meaning had been broken, and the true depth of the word was being revealed to me. It was much like watching a stone disappear into the darkness of a deep pond after having been cast in, the ripples upsetting the flawless surface.

Beautiful was in the sad conditions of the houses with rusted tin roofs, beautiful was in the hundreds of lines found in the faces of the elderly, lines etched by the sorrow of time. Beautiful was in the eyes of a mother who had five children, and no food to give them. Beautiful was in the face of a young man who looked like he hadn’t eaten in three years, but still smiled as I wished him a good day. Beautiful had been written in the songs, and in the souls of these people. Beautiful described the brightly colored graves, and the happiness seen in their luminescent white smiles. Beauty emanated through the night when the stars shone, as the warm breeze tickled the palm trees silhouetted by the moon.

I watched the little girl as she lined up with the other school children in her loose-fitting uniform, with the newfound knowledge that her cough was caused by asthma. In America, it was an easily treated problem—in Haiti, a constant plague and hardship. Especially for a skinny little girl who just wanted to be able to run and play with the other children. But despite her affliction, she smiled, and laughed with the other girls. And though sadness gripped my chest, and crept up my throat, all I could think was that she was beautiful.
And she was.

Nature’s Pain

Friday, April 9th, 2004

By Callum Gay, Kate Thompson, Bella Shewan, Blaise Ramage, Courtney Richards and Paul Zoubkov

Reading the environmental facts is like being subjected to one of those infomercials that just won’t shut up. Every time you think it’s over, it starts up again with more bad news.

Did you know?

  • An area of rainforest roughly the size of a rugby field is hacked down every second.
  • Your average domesticated cat eats more protein per day than a person in Africa.
  • Ninety percent of all large fish have disappeared from the oceans in the last fifty years.
  • And — YES! — the ozone hole is larger than Russia and China combined.
  • According to international pollution standards, one fifth of the world’s population breathes air that is unsafe
  • An estimated 500,000 plant and animal species will become extinct in the coming decades
  • Every year an area of land the size of New Zealand turns into a desert due to deforestation and poor agricultural practices
  • The world’s population grows by 90 million people per year — or 240,000 each day
    Six and a half million tonnes of litter are dumped into the sea every year
  • Nearly half the world’s rivers are going dry or are badly polluted. Eighty percent of major rivers in China are so degraded that they no longer support life
  • Some 60-70 million people die of hunger each year.
  • Around 80 percent of what we produce in NZ is thrown away after one use

Don’t Give Up

The state of the environment can be pretty hard to get your head around. BUT the world isn’t completely stuffed yet. It sustains us: it gives us life. We have an obligation to future generations to do the best we can. And theres heaps we can do.

You CAN make a difference!

USE WISELY: Conserve energy, avoid using disposables, recycle materials, and try to walk and cycle instead of using the car.

SHOP WISELY: Support companies that are enviro-friendly, buy goods with the least amount of packaging and always ask yourself, Do I really need it? What makes me want to buy it?’ Make your own stuff!

RAISE AWARENESS: Talk to your mates or whanau about environmental issues. Organise an awareness-raising event or campaign — maybe a concert, public talk or demonstration.

GET POLITICAL: Pressure city council, government and your local members of parliament to make positive change. If you’re 18 you can stand in elections!

JOIN OTHERS: Volunteer with organisations like Greenpeace, or join a global network of concerned and active young people

GO FOR IT! Learn more about the issues, and realise that you can do plenty. Every little bit helps!

This article was written as part of the Global Focus a collaborative project of Tearaway Magazine and the Global Education Centre. It was first published in Tearaway magazine and is reprinted here with their permission

Illustrator: Gavin Mouldey