In April I returned from a Hunger Project Leadership Immersion Trip to Malawi, back from what, as everyone said it would be, was a life changing experience.
The result: I have committed to invest $50,000 over the next 3 years as my contribution to getting an Epicentre we visited called Nchalo into self reliance (i.e., breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and hunger for 37,000 people).
If you are keen to know more about why I was compelled to commit so much, then please read on…
I am not going to lie, probably the most nerve-wracking thing for me going on the Leadership Immersion trip was thinking about what ‘life changing’ would entail. Was I going to come home wanting to throw my life into disarray and pursue some incredibly different path? Was I going to feel lost, confused, uncertain, angry, upset? I kinda really like my life and wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted to put myself through.
But I did it anyway. And what I experienced was none of the above, instead it was a profound empowerment and perspective shift.
I went feeling some of the global issues like poverty and hunger were hopeless … and I returned extremely hopeful. Why? Because The Hunger Project (THP) have developed a holistic, integrated approach (called the Epicentre Strategy - see infographic attached) that is a sustainable solution - a cure that ends intergenerational poverty and hunger rather than a band-aid (like food drops) or very narrow (like just installing a well) approach that drives most of the charity / aid / non-profit work that we see.
What did I learn:
- It’s time we changed our approach! - for decades, after who-knows how many billions of $$ this situation has not yet been solved, yet we keep doing the same thing expecting different results. Crazy and wasteful? I certainly think so.
- People are the answer - the millions of people suffering from poverty and hunger are not stupid poor people who need handouts, they are millions of people who we can partner with to help them change their situation for themselves
This second point is so powerful and is what I saw in action in every conversation we had in the communities (and we had a lot), whether we were at an existing epicentre or somewhere where THP had only just begun working.
- Where I thought I’d see adversity and struggle, instead I saw strength, appreciation, power, hope, success, community, entrepreneurship, resilience, conviction and pride
- It struck me incredibly how when we spoke to people in the communities they knew exactly what they needed / wanted. In one guy’s words - "thank you for the food drops (provided by a different organisation), but what I really want are the skills to be able to farm better so I can feed my family long term”
- They don’t want our pity, they want our respect. They want to take ownership, they want to be / do better, they just need some support in channelling their energy and resources most effectively
- We all want the same things - safe housing, food, clothes and the ability to provide for our children (especially giving them an education). The only difference is by pure luck, you and I were born somewhere that easily affords us these opportunities, and they were not
The change The Hunger Project is facilitating is working, and I couldn't NOT throw as much of my weight as I could behind being part of a sustainable solution (finally!)
I am committed to funding this myself - however if you feel compelled to contribute, please don't be shy, it would be greatly appreciated.