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Travel = Awareness = Empathy = Action

by Globetrooper Lauren | 6 Responses
40-hour Famine

I can feel the sun burning my eyelids apart. In a depressing limbo of fatigue and hunger, I roll over, strain my neck and squint at the clock. It’s 11.00am = Hour 35 of a food-lover’s nightmare; a self-imposed 40 Hour Famine.

‘How am I going to get through another five whole hours?’ Then the image of a skeletal child enters my mind, bloated and with desperate eyes. Hunger and undernourishment have become such a distant reality for developed countries that we’ve ended up at the other extreme, obesity and heart disease.

But there are over 1 billion people living with chronic hunger today, and the percentage of undernourished people in developing countries is increasing. It’s getting worse.

How do they cope? The emptiness and discomfort are all I can think about and my body won’t let me sleep any longer… I need a distraction. Twitter gives me some respite until the conversation turns to the sweet nothings of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Let me die now, please.

When I left Australia two months ago to travel the world, I had no interest in starving myself (a 40 hour famine was actually a spur of the moment decision after consuming too much chocolate). But through my travels I want to break from tradition, learn first-hand about global issues, interact with different cultures, and be liberated from societal norms that aren’t actually normal. How can the balance of consumption be so unequal? Why are we increasing our definition of the ‘healthy weight’ of a child just because the majority are now considered fat? Why aren’t we doing more to reduce hunger in the most needed areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia?

Only two hours left until I can eat my way back to oblivion. This would be so much harder if I didn’t know how long until my next meal, like most of the world’s hungry.

If you think it’s unacceptable that 1 billion people are chronically hungry, sign the 1billionhungry petition. Through the United Nations, this will put pressure on governments to make eliminating hunger their top priority.

I signed it, and now I’m terribly embarrassed to admit that I fell straight back into my ingrained way of thinking by celebrating the end of my hunger strike with a Reese’s chocolate cup. Typical. But I don’t want to be typical and I don’t want to make excuses, do you?

This post is my second article for the MatadorU Travel Writing Program.

Posted in Adventure Travel | August 1st, 2010

6 Responses to Travel = Awareness = Empathy = Action

  1. Dear Globe Trooper,

    I loved this piece. And I like your whole concept of travel, awareness, empathy and action. Reminds me with the work Nicholas Kristof has been doing. Keep up the good work. And let’s all sign the U.N.’s petition to raise the priority of chronic hunger as one of humanity’s most serious problems.

    Middleboro, Massachusetts

    • Thanks for your comment Sharon. I just can’t fathom that around 1 out of 6 of the world’s population are starving. Especially with so much consumption in developed societies – I heard the other day that 40% of the food bought in North America is wasted or thrown away. Forty percent!! I think about that now every time I go to the grocery store to ‘stock up’ for the week.

  2. Lauren,

    Action is the key to change. We both know your blog or your hunger strike won’t solve this rampant problem. BUT, we can hope that your blog will reach and inspire others. Even if they don’t take action today, they may in the future, and the more of us that are on the team advocating for change, the better.

    You’ve also inspired me to get back on the MatadorU bandwagon. I started the program, but life got busy and I abandoned it earlier this year.

    Take care, and I’m looking forward to reading more from you!

    • Thanks for your comment Sabrina, I also need to get back on the MatadorU bandwagon, life always seems to get in the way (in a good way!).

  3. Great reflection Lauren. Passing this along!

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