Thursday, February 3, 2011

Think Fast

Approximately 1 billion people currently experience hunger. According to World Vision International, about 1 in 4 of the world’s children suffer from malnourishment, and about 5 million children will die this year from hunger-related causes.  

This year, in order to further our understanding of global hunger, the Program Directors at all three MPI sites participated in the 30-hour fast organized by World Vision International. Though allowed to consume fruit juice, we were highly encouraged not to consume solid foods or coffee (eek!).  In addition to the fast, PD’s also participated in service activities organized through their respective sites, and related developmental discussions. In Guatemala, we began our fast with an hour of service at a local feeding program and then conducted dialogues in house and with the Ecuador PDs via Skype. The fast was both physically and emotionally taxing, but we all persevered.

To be honest, when I first learned about the fast, I was not crazy about it for numerous reasons. Primarily, any given day, I probably spend more time eating than not, and I was not sold on the idea of forgoing food for an entire 30 hours. Additionally, I felt several moral qualms on the matter. Who were we to expect that a mere day-long fast would allow us to empathize with the suffering and turmoil of hunger victims? Watching movies on laptops, drinking clean water, and cozily sitting in our warm beds, we would be surrounded by luxuries and in case of emergency, we would have a kitchen stocked with food. Not to mention, we would begin the fast knowing that in 30 hours we would consume copious amounts of food thus, never suffering through the anxiety of wondering the source of our next meal.

The fast also did not touch me initially on a personal level, as our physical experience of hunger would not resemble the experiences of the hungry in Chaquijyá, where many residents do suffer from chronic hunger. While many of them may only eat one meal a day, they do eat. Our experience would more closely resemble the hunger of victims of natural disasters or war, whose food sources are cut off very suddenly. Like I said, there were numerous reasons, so I was hesitant to believe that the fast would affect my perspectives on working in Chaquijyá.

Having successfully completed the fast, I cannot say if the experience will affect how I make my lesson plans or teach my classes, but I can say that the fast did prove to be more enlightening than I had expected. Namely, even if the fast did not radically change my thoughts on world hunger, the experience did make me think. Though the fast was not “authentic” per say, hunger dominated my thoughts for 30 hours and compelled me to ask more profound questions about myself and the larger issue. I realized that it is impossible for me to fathom the experience of chronic hunger. This realization excited in me both a rush of gratitude for the numerous blessings I am fortunate to enjoy, and also a larger appreciation for the resilience of people suffering from hunger. All over the world, people survive on minimal food and still work, struggling to support their families. 

I am so grateful for the smack-in-face, out-of-the-comfort-zone experience that was the fast. Sometimes I need a shock to my system to make me open my eyes and see the world around me more clearly.

Peace, Ginny


  1. Hello, I was wondering if someone could let me know when this fast is happening, what are the participants expected to do and how can we get more information about it?

  2. Hello, Denise! Thanks for your interest. The fast is happening on August 17-19 this year, and you can find more information about it here: