by Ryan Fiore (Staff Writer and Reporter)
LOWER BURRELL, Pa.- Imagine not being able to eat whenever you wanted to. Imagine living day after day struggling to find food and water. That’s what it’s like to be a starving child in certain areas of countries like Kenya, Africa, and Nigeria. Now imagine voluntarily not eating for 30 hours. Well that’s what it’s like to participate in an event called “30 Hour Famine”, run through the Christian organization, World Vision.
For nine years, the Youth Fellowship of Grace Community Presbyterian Church of Lower Burrell, has been participating in this life changing event. After being notified online from World Vision, Terri Wilson, the director of the Youth Fellowship, brought the idea of the famine fundraiser to the Presbyterian Church. “Since we help people locally, I wanted the youth to get involved in something that was going to help people struggling internationally,” said Wilson. Wilson stated that while she and the youth fast, they stay active with games to keep their minds off of their hunger.
Ben Edwards, a member of the Youth Fellowship and junior at Burrell High School, provided insight regarding why these kids want to participate in a 30 hour fast. “After watching videos of kids walk miles to medical help and go through poverty, it really inspired me,” said Edwards. “I wanted to experience what hunger felt like. It’s not the greatest feeling in the world, but the greatest feeling is knowing you’re doing it for the kids.” This will be Edwards’ sixth year participating in “30 Hour Famine.”
Participating members of the “30 Hour Famine” may either pay a flat donation fee or pay a fee by the hour. Participants ask for outside donations right to the event as a form of fundraising.
The Christian organization World Vision raises money that goes to kids that don’t have food and clean water. Many children die from starvation and malnutrition. a 2013 statistic found on the “30 Hour Famine” website reported that “more than 17,000 children younger than five died every day,” mostly from starvation and malnutrition. That is one death every ten seconds. Another way the money that is raised is used is to provide the kids with clean water, and obtaining clean water sources. Many kids die every year from filthy and undrinkable water, something that most people take for granted.
World Vision’s idea of raising money by doing “30 Hour Famine” is not just for supplying starving children with food and clean water, but to additionally help with farming techniques as well. They each families how to ration the food they are provided with over time and they also teach practices of better hygiene. Even though it’s for a special cause, you still might be thinking it’s crazy to fast for 30 hours. Why would you fast when you can just donate money? Well, the whole point of it is to be a learning experience.
Some people don’t fast for the famine, but still play a big part in organizing it. Bill Ludwig, who helps at Youth Fellowship on Sundays, is of big help the weekend of the famine. He cooks for the “break-fast” the next morning, prepares entertainment to help pass the time, and helps with the cleanup. Ludwig is not only a helper, but a proud parents of two of the youth who participated in the famine. “They’ve been doing it for a while and it’s nice that they come do it.” Ludwig has a son, Luke, who is in high school, and a daughter, Katie, who plans to come home from college to participate. “It’s nice that she might come home because she doesn’t have to.”
The Youth Fellowship planned to participate in “30 Hour Famine” on the weekend of Feb. 27 and 28. However, due to unexpected circumstances, the famine event was postponed. They have rescheduled for the weekend of April 9 and 10. They plan to pass the time with games, cross building, and sleeping over at the church. After the 30 hours is up, the youth will gather together in the church and nourish heir hunger with a big feast, or as they call it, a “break-fast”, to celebrate their hard work. “I’m just very blessed to be with a group of people who share the same values,” said Edwards.
Though there is no specific fundraising goal, the youth set their own personal goals. In the pamphlet given to the youth students, a page shows that $35 feeds and cares for a child for one month. Meanwhile, $425 feeds and cares for a child for over a year and $840 feeds and cares for two children for over a year. Wilson revealed in a Sunday night Youth Fellowship meeting on Feb. 21 that over the course of the nine years that the youth group has engaged in the famine experience, they have raised over $31,000. The final amount raised by the youth group for this year’s famine will be announced to the youth group with in a few weeks.